For as long as there has been professional real estate photography there's been total confusion about who owns the copyright to real estate photography. agbeat.com has a good example of the crazy TOS of most MLSs. There are only very a few exceptions. Here's the situation:
This can't be rocket science! I cannot see why it isn't possible to have a TOS agreement that works for all parties here. It would say the photographer or whoever created the photos owns the copyright (standard intelectual property law since they created the photos) and the creator of the photos grants a limited use license to the listing agent and the MLS that allows both the agent and the MLS to do whatever they need to do to take care of business. The listing agent would have the photographer sign this page and adds it to the 30 or so other pages of the listing agreement that they file with their broker and the MLS when they take the listing.
I think this is a good time to get this craziness fixed because the recent flap about listing syndication is raising the awareness of agents of who owns the listing data. They are starting to think more about having control of their listings.
I'm in the process of attempting to contact some legal people involved in creating MLS rules to see what they think about resolving this issue. Seems like if it's solved in one large MLS perhaps others would follow suit. If anyone knows of any MLS that is already setup this way I would love to know about it. I know their is at least one in the US but I can't remember where it is.