4 Things YOU Should Know About Copyrights on the MLS, with Ward Arendt, Chairman of the HAR MLS Advisory Group

by Houston Agent

MLS copyright rules have been in the headlines lately, but HAR members, it appears, have nothing to worry about.

The First Multiple Listing Service (FMLS), a 55-year-old MLS that serves more than 30,000 agents throughout Georgia, was in the news last week when Lane Bailey, a Realtor in the state, discovered that when uploading photos to FMLS, agents and photographers unwittingly transferred copyrights for the images to the MLS.

The story sparked quite an uproar among agents and photographers, and we figured we would chat with Ward Arendt, the chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors MLS Advisory Group, for some perspective on how YOUR MLS handles copyright issues.

  1. Before agents even consider uploading images, Arendt said, they must be absolutely sure that they are authorized to use the images. Any unauthorized use of photos from, say, Getty Images, will be certain copyright infringement.
  2. The MLS, though, does copyright any images uploaded to its site, Arendt said, but only for enforcement purposes.
  3. By far the most common reason for enforcement, Arendt said, is scraping, when Internet users post MLS data to their own websites without paying for the information.
  4. It’s difficult to even discern how scraping occurs, Arendt said, given the sophistication of some hackers, but one thing is certain – “It’ll always be a struggle.”

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