MLS Infringing Photos…Are You a Copy Cat?

Before you upload or attach property photographs in the MLS for your listings, you need to ask yourself a few questions about those photographs.

Who created the photos? Did you take them yourself? Did you hire a photographer? Did the seller give them to you?

If you took the photographs yourself, then you are in the clear to upload those photos to your listings. BUT, complications may come up if you use a photographer or if the seller is providing the photos.

If using a professional photographer, please make sure you read the fine print of your licensing agreement. Section 7.29 of the MLS rules and regulations outlines the type of licensing or releases that need to be granted by the photographer for your entry of those photos into the MLS. Some of our MetroTex members have dealt with photographers who did not grant permission for the use of their photography. Defending copyright infringement suits can be very expensive and may cost thousands in settlements.

If the seller is providing you the property photos, ask questions such as, “Where did you get these photos?”, “Who took these photos?” etc. If a previous listing agent or photographer took the photos, you need to contact the previous agent or photographer to confirm you have proper authority to use the property photographs as part of your marketing. Sellers may assume because they have possession of the photos that they can use those photos in that manner, but that may not be the case. MLS Rules and Regulations, Section 7.29 requires the following, “Before a Participant or Subscriber uses Media from a previous listing submitted to the MLS, that Participant or Subscriber shall obtain the written consent of the former Listing Participant to use such Media”.

If the photos are provided by the seller, you also need to determine the age of the photos. MLS Rules and Regulations, Section 7.30 requires that you use “Only a true current photograph of Listed Property….”

As a reminder, do not use photos you find on the internet. Many of these are protected by copyright and could cause you a huge headache if you use them!

Lastly, never scrape or steal another agent’s listing photos. Even if the listing is expired or canceled, this is a violation of the MLS rules and regulations in Section 7.29 and Section 12.05. You will be required to immediately remove those photos from your listing and may face sanctions for refusal to do so.