Why Is Image Theft So Common In Real Estate?

May 19th, 2016

RentalLicensingI recently talked to Nadia Reckmann, over at, which is a site that helps photographers find and fight image theft. Nadia was working on an article on why image theft is so common in real estate.

She just finished the article and I think it is worth reading for real estate photographers.

She says:

Sometimes we’re asked if copyright infringement is more common in certain areas of photography than others. Image theft occurs in every field, but we’ve been surprised at how often it occurs in real estate photography. According to our case management team, over 7% of all infringement cases we handled this year alone were connected to real estate.

Is there a reason for this? We took a look at some of the worst infringements in real estate photography and identified three reasons why real estate photographers have their images stolen more often…

I wanted to point out Nadia’s article today because it fits into the theme of the discussion we’ve been having for the last 2 days. It’s becoming clear to everyone from real estate photographers to the NAR that real estate image theft is a big issue.

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2 Responses to “Why Is Image Theft So Common In Real Estate?”

  • So-so article. I’m surprised it is only 7%, that number seems low to me. Why, because there are literally tens million real estate photos taken every year by professional photographers. In addition, many of the homes photographed will have more that one agent, with the addition agents needing photos of the home. Last, it is relatively easy to catch someone that is using stolen photos. They put the stolen works on public display. I’m not saying that infringement isn’t an issue, it’s just that we need to keep the scope of the market in mind. The real estate photography market is huge so even if a very small percentage of photo are infringed it will lead to a very large number of cases.

    In addition, I really object to the article painting all real estate agents with the same brush. There are millions of agents, a vast majority of them don’t steal the photos. But if only 1 in a thousand infringe, that is still 1000 agents. I have had more agents call me asking to use photos than I have had steal the photos. That is by a factor of 10. I have found the far bigger infringers to be FSBO sellers that initially used an agent, renters and scam renters.

  • I agree with Neal. But what really gets my goat – and there was no mention made anywhere – are home appraisers. They are the worst! And where do you think they grab their photos? Off the listing sheet?, Zillow, trulia, anywhere. And try chasing one down and giving him or her the riot act. In my book, they are the ones who need to be targeted. Think about it. When a house is UAG, the next step is usually home inspection. And they grab their photos anywhere they can…and they don’t know DCMA laws – or if they do, they brush it aside.

    I find that most of the agents around my area (Boston area) are pretty good about not stealing photos.

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