March 13th, 2017
Adam in Virginia says:
Recently a broker I work for, we can call him Fred, received a letter from an attorney. In the letter it stated that the current owner of a large estate that Fred had sold in November of 2016 had seen a marketing video put out by Fred’s firm. This video contained two exterior shots of his now owned property. He then threatened that if the video was not removed from the web, he was going to sue for privacy infringement.
Fred, the broker, talked to me about the situation and we both agree that we can’t think of any legal grounds that the current owner would have to request us to do this. That being said, unfortunately we also know that this person has very deep pockets and seemingly nothing better to do. If we were to take it to court, he would very likely outspend us. We have decided to go ahead and take down the video to appease him.
I was curious if you or any of your readers had heard of such a situation or knew of any legal precedent for such a matter.
Your story is funny in a way because any property that has been on the market recently is likely to have both interior and exterior photos on Zillow. Zillow routinely keeps the listing photos after a listing goes inactive. A home we sold three years ago has my listing photos and those of another listing agent from a sale after ours. So your property owner should also go after Zillow.
I’m not a lawyer so I suggest that you consider my comments and readers comments just personal opinions. Contact someone like Joel Rothman to discuss this issue if you expect legal action. Joel is an expert in this area.
When photos are taken for marketing purposes the current owner gives permission and it doesn’t seem to me that future owners can reasonably have any expectation of control over them. Also, if the photos in question were taken from a public street they can’t violate anyone’s privacy.
Has anyone else had this issue come up?