Eric in LA asks:
I got a call from an agent today to shoot a condo next week. We set up a time and everything and just as we were about to hang up he said he had a new agreement form that his office wants photographers to sign and that it says he will own the photos that he is paying for. I told him he is paying for the rights to use the photos for his marketing of the listing, website, MLS, etc., but that I still owned the copyrights. He went on to say "Sure it’s just to protect the agent" and I said I’d take a look at it.
He emailed me a pdf with the Keller Williams logo at the top, the listing address, his name as agent, my name as photographer, and his digital signature.
I’ve been shooting real estate for about twelve years and this is the first time I’ve seen or heard of this, and have never agreed to do "work for hire" and turn over all photos and copyrights.
Have you seen this or know of any offices doing this?
Yes, this has been going on all over the US for at least a couple of years. A number of brokers have decided to do this to protect themselves from a perceived liability. Some at the NAR even suggest doing this. A real estate photographer in Seattle recently told me that she has lost about a third of her business because she insists on retaining the rights for all her work.
I recommend several approaches:
This is largely an education problem. The DMLA has an effort underway to help solve this problem by forming a real estate photographers association to address this education problem. Stay tuned for more info on this effort.
Are agents asking you to sign a work for hire agreement like Eric's?