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Licensed Agent/Photographers May Not Be Able To Retain Photo Copyrights For Their Listing Photos

Published: 23/09/2016
By: larry


Alexander Stross who is a licensed agent in Austin, TX and a photographer sent me a link to Venkat Balasubramani's article over at  describing a suit that Alexander filed against Redfin. The 5th circuit court recently ruled against Alexander. The essence of the case is as follows:

Stross is a photographer and broker who participates in multiple listing services (MLSs). He alleges that Redfin infringed because (1) it used “Stross’s photographs of sold listings for purposes other than ‘to support an estimate of value on a particular property to a particular client'” and (2) it recommercialized Stoss’s photographs by “encouraging” social sharing. The court in an earlier order says “there is a strong case for infringement, but factual issues remain regarding the alleged exceeding the scope of the ACTRIS license” and Redfin’s eligibility for DMCA safe harbor protection. The court now reverses course and grants summary judgment in favor of Redfin.

So aware that if you are a licensed agent or an MLS member, depending on your MLS, the MLS rights may conflict with your rights as a photographer.

I know, there is much about this decision that seems strange starting with the fact that to transfer photo rights the photographer must sign something and to join his MLS Alexander did not sign anything.

5 comments on “Licensed Agent/Photographers May Not Be Able To Retain Photo Copyrights For Their Listing Photos”

  1. You have to execute a specific written document to transfer a Copyright, but all of the "social media" sites have you agree that you are granting them an unlimited, non-exclusive license to anything you post. Redfin might be doing that as well. The real estate professionals I work with don't like RedFin at all.

  2. Could it be said that in general agents do not like Redfin or have bad vibes with them? If so should we not use Redfin's article they published on homes selling for more with pro photography?

  3. @Tony,
    I would definitely say that most agents (and Brokers for that matter) are not keen on Redfin. However, there are many different articles that support the opinion that homes sell for more with pro photography. Below are a few examples: (this one does quote the redfin article though) (most agents I work with LOVE Inman, so this is usually a good source)

    Just a few I found in a very quick search.

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