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 Jeff Lasky, the director of communications and training at MRED, for some perspective on how YOUR MLS handles copyright issues.
Here are the five details you should know about MRED and copyrights:
- MRED does have a copyright interest in the photos it utilizes for listings, but only for copyright enforcement purposes. “MRED obtains no ownership interest to use the photos or other information except for copyright enforcement purposes.” Lasky said.
- Outside of enforcement issues, copyright matters for other uses of the photos are to be handled by the broker and photographer.
- That said, brokers can only upload photos they have the right to enter.
- Copyright enforcement actions involve not only images, but listing data as well.
- The most common cause of enforcement actions is scraping, when someone posts MLS data to a website through unauthorized channels, not MRED-approved methods such as an IDX feed.
“The most common reason anybody – not really brokers or agents – scrapes data is so they can populate a website they have without paying for or having permission to get the data,” Lasky said. “Then they can promote and sell advertising on the site and make money without ever being in the real estate brokerage business.”