Menu

Should You Allow Agents to Use Your Real Estate Images on Social Media?

September 27th, 2018

Darrin in California asks:

As a new real estate photographer, I’m always encountering unfamiliar situations and have to think on the fly. A new issue came up regarding copyright. I think I answered it “properly” in terms of copyright law, but maybe not in terms of a business decision and I’m wondering what others would have done.

The issue is the Realtor wanted me to shoot stills. They then wanted to use those still photos to make their own video in-house. I explained the copyright implications involved and why I needed to make the video, and she was wondering why my license didn’t allow them to make their own video. I feel like this may be a “penny-wise, pound-foolish” situation if I lose a $250 gig over a video that I wasn’t going to make that much money on. But I also feel strongly about the copyright issues involved. What would others have done? And while on the topic, what do others charge for these slideshow-type videos

Clearly, your client wants to make the video so she can use your images on social media. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any right or standard way of dealing with this issue. On the one hand, Realtors want to promote their listings on many types of social media and they expect to be able to do that with the images you supply. On the other hand, if you read the terms of service, social media sites think they get all the rights to your photos that are uploaded to their sites.

Ultimately, it comes down to how diligent you want to be defending your copyright so you can resell your images. Most of your competitors probably don’t even have a license agreement and don’t pay any attention to these issues whereas a handful are like George Gutenberg and goes after copyright offenders with a vengeance!

What to others do in this area?

Share this

13 Responses to “Should You Allow Agents to Use Your Real Estate Images on Social Media?”

  • My job is to sell the realtor, not the property and that’s why I am successful. Other have different methods and attitudes then I do. I have never had a publication want to print my pictures, except for the local real estate guide. My clients know how I feel and they appreciate that. I post every shoot on an social media, promoting the realtor and consequently ME. Stop worrying about your pictures unless you think you can sue Zillow for millions and just get back to making money.

    I HOPE realtors are using my work to promote themselves. Eventually it will come back.

  • our usage rights allow any usage for the realtor to promote the listing for the duration of the agents involvement with the listing, or the sellars listing is active (if it is a FSBO). Agents sometimes like or have to use their own tours in addition to ours or generate videos on their own if their brokerage requests it or requires it so no problem. Social media is a very popular tool for agents to advertise a listing and is commonly used by many of our agents.

    Basically they can use them however they need to sell the property including magazine publication, another popular use with our clients. Our only limitation is that they are not allowed to resell the photos or sell prints etc … Personally i don’t think it is smart to piece out the usage rights for an agent as there are many avenues they need to utilize in order to do their job and every agent is different in that approach. So as long as the photos are used for selling the property, let it be in my opinion… they will be much happier with your service lol!

    Also, for social media or publication use we do however request that they include photo credit to us in a specified way and have not had any problems with it… free advertising for future clients or who knows! i have acquired gigs for magazines, designers, builders, developers, restraunts, hotels, singers, songwriters and even a guitar company from real estate jobs so think outside of just making money :)))

  • I license RE images for any use to sell the property for as long as the licensee has the contract or the property is for sale. I also allow agents to use the images in their own portfolio to showcase their marketing. If a magazine wants to publish an article about the agent or brokerage that isn’t centered on selling the property shown, that will require an additional license. If an agent is my customer, the broker is not allowed to use the images to advertise the office without a separate license. If the brokerage is a franchisee, the franchiser will have to pay for a separate license to use the images.

    I don’t do social media such as facebook or instagram so I am not handing them any rights to my images. I counsel my clients that if they choose to upload images to social media sites and those images are transferred by that site to a third party, not just somebody copying them without permission, my licensing will change and prohibit any posting of material to social media. While it’s not commonplace for somebody like facebook to sell images, their terms that people blindly agree to does assign them rights to any media or information posted. I would be very upset if facebook were to start trying to make money from my work without compensation.

    Work with your customers so they have the materials they need/want to do their work. If they want to make an annoying Ken Burns effect moving photo page, I say let them do it. I don’t like them and I don’t see any significant profit for me in doing them as a service. Other places can do them much more efficiently than I can unless I want to sink a load of money into more software (which I don’t). I’d rather start added some TS lenses to my arsenal and I have another photo business idea that can use some funds to get off the ground.

  • Re: Images on Social Media?

    Be EXTREMELY careful with this! Read the small print on the social media sites when you sign up!!!!

    For example, Facebook state in their small print that they may use “anything” that is posted on their website including those of their affiliate companies, instagram, WhatsApp etc.

    In a nutshell, their small prints states they may sell, sublicense or use for advertising purposes any images posted without reimbursing the copyright holder a dime. They state in their bla bla the images still belong to the copyright holder. In my eyes that is stealing! However, in a legal sense, as you agreed to this when you opened an account it isn’t closed as stealing. A very dubious business practice!!! Unfortunately, one doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

    After I read the following info from an attorney in New York, I immediately removed all my images from fb. and after the recent fiasco with the data company in the UK I closed my account(s) immediately. I just don’t use any social media! Many of my colleagues wonder how I get on. I can say very well. I just don’t need social media.

    Who Owns Photos and Videos Posted on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter?

    http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/

  • My license is for “marketing of the home and post sale marketing of the Realtor/client (Just Sold, etc). Never had the issue of Realtor wanting to create video from stills which other than the mp4 file format, isn’t video. It is a slide show usually with Ken Burns effect and 1) my tour competes well and is superior to what they would create, 2) it is economical as I include it in my pricing for a standard shoot package, 3) I encourage them to not only post the link on social media, but give the branded link to their client encouraging client to post on social media – essentially sending a business card to all their client’s friends. The tour has my “created by” link and the url is my website, so I benefit too. In the process, I also educate them on the difference between a slideshow tour in mp4 file format and what I call “true video” (which is a cost add on not included in the standard package that is available for purchase).

    On a secondary note. Realtor.com just changed their policy, effective Oct 1, where if you were a “picture Path” photographer able to upload the tour, it is being discontinued. Now will be either through MLS feed and if not possible through MLS (historically the case locally so watching to see if changes), the realtor will have to log on to their Realtor.com account and manually add. One thing of note, Tourbuzz – the tour engine I use – when they see the link playback request coming from Realtor.com, they automatically switch to the branded version as Realtor.com is not limited by IDX rules as it would be the non-branded IDX compliant version that MLS would forward. Good to know, and let your clients know if they have to manually update.

  • I agree with Barett.

    On the issue on “social media sites using your image for advertising”.
    I am not aware of any case of this yet and I had a personal experience of dealing with one of the social media giants for their promotion.
    I was contacted by Instagram that they wanted to use some of my images for their Instagram Business Magazine, that they send to to potential advertiser to showcase what the users are doing on the platform. A separate licence with a contract was offered for this, so they do handle that with care and didn’t just take my images and publish, because “they can”.
    They terms are mostly phrased like this because of the partner plugins and 3rd party integration. For example that partner sites like “Later” can display your feed and you can post or edit your content through their site.

  • I agree with Barett.

    On the issue on “social media sites using your image for advertising”.
    I am not aware of any case of this yet and I had a personal experience of dealing with one of the social media giants for their promotion.
    I was contacted by Instagram that they wanted to use some of my images for their Instagram Business Magazine, that they send to to potential advertiser to showcase what the users are doing on the platform. A separate licence with a contract was offered for this, so they do handle that with care and didn’t just take my images and publish, because “they can”.
    They terms are mostly phrased like this because of the partner plugins and 3rd party integration. For example that partner sites like “Later” can display your feed and you can post or edit your content through their site.

    The bigger issue with all this is when so called “user generated content” or repost sites/accounts start using your content to promote their things, that’s a bit more tricky when they embed your content through the platforms API on their site.

  • Heck, I don’t care. As long as I am paid for the job, I consider it just part of the service. I can see for photographers who want to use the photos as stock photography. If photos are to be used in national ads separate from the marketing of the specific property, then yes, I would charge extra for that usage. If the photos are used in any ad that has nothing to do with the property in question, that would apply as well. But that has never happened with any of my clients.

    I find that when I am working with a graphic design, advertising agency or manufacturing/commercial company, then I have quite different and more stringent controls over my photography, but in real estate, the images have such a short life and the friction nitpicking usage with my clients who don’t really understand what this is all about anyway, would be more counter productive than the possible misuse of my RE work.

  • My “small print” is the same as Ken Brown’s.
    Anything I can do to help my agents …helps us both!

  • Is there a clinical term for “irrational fear of social media”?

  • I’m the original poster and I think my question may have been misunderstood. I have no issue with the agents using my photos on social media. My license allows them to use the photos to promote the listing. Period. I don’t carve out and prohibit social media use.

    My question specifically had to do with the agent using copywritten content (my photos) to create new content (the Ken Burns style video). Being new and having never been asked that, I had to answer her on the fly and erred toward protecting the copywrite. My answer to her was that the video could be created, but that I needed to be the one to create it.

    In the end , Larry gave me some good advice and I reversed my position with the agent, telling her that her company could do it in house if that’s what she wanted. I probably have lost the gig, so I’ll chalk it up to a $250 lesson learned. I stings, but I’m the better business person for it.

    And Mr. Hargis, classy as always I see.

  • LOL @Scott.

    I have had agents who made their own slideshow using still photos. I let them. Some brokerages offer these free tools for their agents. The good news is that many may not even know these tools exist, and even if they do… don’t possess the time, skill, or desire to actually do it. And, for the most part, the end product is subpar. As we all know, some agents will never see the value in what we do. Let them go and find one who will.

  • Almost all of my business has been built up by word of mouth. Half of the “word of mouth” has been my images being published in the MLS, and the public being educated to know to ask for good pictures when they list their homes.

    The other half has been educating the Realtors by publishing my images on Facebook, and letting the Realtors do the same. The more places my images end up on social media, the better.

    In the last 2 weeks, I have shot 3 homes for owners that are creating air BnB’s, and 2 commercial gigs generated by a marketing manager. Both saw my re photos on facebook.

Comments RSS

Leave a Reply