Ownership of real estate photos and videos produced by Fast Promo USA belongs to us – the company.

WHO OWNS REAL ESTATE PHOTOS

A recent buzz has started or maybe heard yet again in the business of real estate photography. Questions have come up on real estate threads and opinion sites on the  ownership of the real estate photos of a house posted on various listing sites. Does the copyright belong to the owner of the house, the photographer, the brokerage company, the agent in charge of the listing, or the MLS? Short answer is all photos and videos produced by Fast Promo USA belongs to us – the company. We in turn grant permission to our clients to use all photos and videos as they see fit.

This simple confusion led to other issues. Should there be any misrepresentation or any similar lawsuit about a photograph, who should be liable? If the photograph of the house be queued for an appearance on an architecture and design magazine or house design blog, whose permission should be obtained? Who has the final say in taking down a photo on the listing? Finally, who should get paid for the marketing and usage of the photo since real estate is a commercial industry? Short answer again is all photos and videos produced by Fast Promo USA belongs to us the company.

Since the real estate photography business is hot with the issue, design blog sites are also now being questioned for exploiting artful photographs and posting them on their sites. This obviously rakes in traffic to the blog site and sometimes even paid-for clicks without giving credit to the photographer or MLS from which the photo has been procured. Other design blog sites are owned by MLSs themselves. This simply makes use of the same photo more than once—again with the ownership of the real estate photo and unlimited license still in the works. An example of this is Trulia Luxe, a house design blog featuring high-end properties listed on Trulia. Even though Trulia uses the photos “to generate search results as a navigational tool to direct you to the originating Web site”, their TOS also states that “Trulia does not assert copyright or grant any rights to the underlying images or descriptions of real estate listings.” This leads to confusion since it appears that they have unlimited license on the materials.

Copyright and licensing issues will be put to rest as soon as MLSs draft specific TOS that does not exploit intellectual properties but still fairly benefits all parties. After all, copyrights are supposed to protect the business from scammers and not take advantage of the people working in the same business.