Real Estate Photography image rights

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 15,656
Re: Real Estate Photography image rights

Brett8883 wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

Brett8883 wrote:

Michael Fryd wrote:

Zillow's terms of service absolutely allow other real estate agents to use images posted on Zillow to promote a property. It does not preclude them from using images from a previous sale that were commissioned by a different Realtor.

Where do you see that in the terms of service for Zillow? I don’t see anything like that in there granted it is long and I could have missed it

Any time your upload photos to Zillow you grant them an irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free worldwide license to: (i) use, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, modify, prepare derivative works of or incorporate into other works, and translate your User Materials, in connection with the Services or in any other media; and (ii) sublicense these rights, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law.

Furthermore Zillow restricts your use of photos by prohibiting your from reproducing, publicly displaying, or otherwise make accessible on or through any other website, application, or service any reviews, ratings, or profile information about real estate, lending, or other professionals, underlying images of or information about real estate listings, or other data or content available through the Services. (emphasis mine).

The restriction on reusing images is specifically restricted to use on other websites. There is no restriction against using images from the Zillow website in an updated listing for the same property.


The key here is that anyone uploading an image to Zillow, grants Zillow a very broad license to do pretty much whatever they want with the images. You have lost the right to restrict the images from being used by another Realtor. I don't have access to the MLS terms of service, but I would be amazed if they did not require a similarly broad license.

If a you want to be able to restrict these additional uses of images, then you can't allow them to be uploaded to Zillow, the MLS, or many other services. Clearly, that makes the images almost useless to a Realtor, so such restrictions are not practical when targeting that market.

I don’t see where it grants a license to another realtor though. You are just assuming that because it doesn’t say you can’t do it that you can. I agree that you couldn’t go after Zillow for having the photos on their site but if another realtor has downloaded the photos and re uploaded them to Zillow, that realtor is violating the copyright and the images need to be taken down and it sounds like Zillow does just that.

Zillow explicitly allows real estate professionals to use the images, as long as they are not using it on another web site. Zillow also has the right to sublicense use of the images.

"If you are a real estate or mortgage professional acting in your professional capacity, you may additionally use the Services to provide information, to the extent permitted by applicable law, to your clients and to take actions on behalf of your clients (“Pro Use”). If you use the Services for a Pro Use, you represent and warrant that you have obtained all required authorizations and consents from your client. Except as expressly stated herein, these Terms of Use do not provide you with a license to use, reproduce, distribute, display or provide access to any portion of the Services on third-party web sites or otherwise."

The underlying issue here, is that these sorts of services require you to give them a very broad license for images. If you authorize use of images on these sites, these sites can pretty much do whatever they want with those images, and can allow others to also do so.

Zillow explicitly allows real estate professionals to use any images from Zillow for the benefit of your client. That includes images taken for other agents for previous sales. This is not a copyright violation, as a requirement of uploading images to Zillow is that you allow them to do grant exactly this sort of license.


The problem is a photographer who authorizes his client to use images on these sorts of sites, and then imposes restrictions which are not consistent with using the images on these sorts of sites. You can't allow the image to be uploaded to Zillow, and then restrict Zillow from allowing others to use the images.

Keep in mind, that when it comes to the law, common sense and fairness cannot be always be counted on.

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