Profile picture for asdfjk3

Are home photos copyrighted?

I am listing my unit via a realtor on the MLS. Another condo owner in my building has listed their unit "for sale by owner" but decided to use my photos to advertise their unit without permission. We have identical floor plans. Is this legal? 
  • April 24 - US
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Answers (5)

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Profile picture for blue screen exile
You don't need to register a copyright nor place a mark a copyright symbol on a document for it to be protected by copyright law.  The original author or creator of the original work retains the copyright, unless they specifically assign it to another or license, or give permission to use.  Even with giving permission to use, it doesn't change the copyright holder nor allow extended other licensing or use.  Excerpts of works may be quoted for review or critique.  There are a few other exceptions.

The only thing is, for a few photos of something similar?  Does one really want to go to court over it?  If someone paid a substantial amount of money for the original works, maybe the photographer might care.  The simplest thing is to just ask the person that "borrowed" the photos without permission to "take them down" as they don't belong to them, and that it would really benefit them to take their own photos.

For photos on Zillow, paragraph 10 of the "terms of use" cover how to get Zillow to remove the copyrighted material that was used without permission.  Probably one doesn't even need to go to that trouble and could just use the "report a problem" on the details page, or contact customer service through the email contact form:
http://www.zillow.com/myzillow/EmailCustomerService.htm

Of course, if there is a big "copyright" notice posted across the photo, it is pretty obvious that permission was not being granted to use for something else.

One will notice that the terms of use state that posting info or photos on ZIllow give Zillow a license to use indefinitely (assuming the poster was the owner of the photos or original work), but that the owner of the work did not give up ownership or other copyright protection by posting on the site.
  • April 24
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Profile picture for Dan Tabit
Your agent will know what is proper in your area.  If someone used my photos without permission they would receive one warning and then it would be unpleasant.  In our area this violates our MLS rules and I suspect the photos are the property of the person who took them, or paid for them.
  • April 24
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
By the way, original copyright law protected a work for 50 years; but Disney got that extended to 75 years; but one does need to register the copyright for the extended protections.  I'm pretty sure that is not an issue for recent photos.  Also, with the death of an author or creator of an original work, there is a procedure for transferring ownership of the copyright that should be followed; if not, it could easily become public domain.

Unattributed works that get copied frequently could also be difficult to enforce copyright law, unless the original author or creator of the work had solid evidence that the work originated with them and evidence of a creation date that preceded other uses.  Even then, if not enforced in a timely manner, it could be assumed by the courts that generic permission was granted to use the work.  Such is the nature of many folk songs and popular songs.
  • April 24
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Depends on who owns the photos, it may be who paid for them, but they may still be the property of the photographer (if you used one) with a limited license being granted to you or your Realtor for marketing the property. The laws are different everywhere and each situation is unique, you should consult an attorney on this for legal advice.
  • April 24
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
You should ask your agent if the other person has received permission to use them.
  • April 24
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