Darren in California asks:
About two months ago, I photographed a relatively nice property for one of my top clients. Today, I saw a post on LinkedIn from another real estate agent in a completely separate brokerage posting one of my photos and advertising that he sold the property. I've never worked with this agent. I'm assuming my client lost the listing, the home owner obtained a copy of my photos, and gave them to the new agent, who then re-listed/sold the property while utilizing my images without consent. What is the recommended course of action here? It seems tacky to reach out and ask for compensation for using the images.
I'm not hard up for the money; it just seems like a classic issue of someone using a professional photographer's photos without permission. In my terms and conditions of use, I provide an exclusive license to the purchasing agent only for the duration of their listing agreement. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
The most important thing to do is to find out the facts of exactly what happened. You can start by having a friendly discussion with your client and/or the offender so you clearly understand the facts:
If the offending agent grabbed your photo off an online listing someplace, probably one of the most effective ways to put a stop to this behavior is to have a personal or phone discussion with the managing broker of the office the offending agent. The managing broker is less likely to blow off the incident and will be more attuned to the legal potential. No need to threaten the managing broker, just have a friendly discussion that demonstrates you understand the legal facts involved.
Agents still need a lot of education in this copyright. There is probably way more of this kind of thing going on than you can imagine and the only way to stop it is to educate agents.