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Lawsuit alleges CoreLogic MLS products violate photographers’ copyrights [UPDATE]

CoreLogic, one of the lead proprietors of MLS platforms has been accused of violating copyright laws. What do you think about Realtor photography copyright laws?



mls corelogic photography rights

With the rise of the web came the adaptation of new rules and regulations; not surprising then that one of the largest issues aside from privacy is copyright issues. Real estate is certainly not exempt from these issues, especially when it comes to photography.

As we’ve covered in depth, real estate copyright issues have lingered for years, with the chain of ownership allegedly violated at nearly every point of publication.

Agents hire a photographer to take listing photos, then (some) MLS systems’ terms of service include fine print stating any uploads through the system become the property of the system. Also, third party companies using the images claim copyright and then there’s the homeowners themselves to consider. To summarize, photography issues are messy.

One photographer has been fighting against the mess, and trying to make sense of the copyright laws. Robert Stevens filed suit against CoreLogic for copyright infringement. He contends CoreLogic stripped critical metadata from images and sold them through a different product without permission or compensation.

Metadata is embedded information such as the photographer’s name, or the copyright owner, geolocation data, time of photo, or camera settings; all of which can be used to identify the authorized copyright owner.

By stripping this information, copyright infringement has allegedly taken place. When you consider that CoreLogic says they represent 17 of the 20 top MLS organizations, the allegations made by Stevens could be one tiny ripple in a very large pond; who knows how many other real estate photographers have experienced a similar metadata stripping.

To summarize what happened; Stevens took a photo and licensed it to a Realtor for use. This Realtor then uploaded the image with metadata to the RAPB (Realtor’s Association of the Palm Beaches) through CoreLogics’s MLS platform. Steven states he has no relationship with CoreLogic or RAPB and did not license either to alter the copyright metadata, but has proof it was indeed altered and then integrated into CoreLogic’s RealQues database and sold without permission or compensation to Stevens.

Stevens, another photographer, Steven Vandal, and their photography company, then filed suit against CoreLogic on May 7, 2014. Since then, it has been a slow process of establishing exactly what happened. There were a few issues regarding discovery and how the information would be used. A number of pending discovery disputes that the Plaintiffs (Stevens and co.) offer in support of their Motion to Continue are not yet ripe for Court intervention, which has led to some unfortunate bumps in the road.

The Plaintiffs’ Motion to Compel is organized into three categories: written discovery related to 17 U.S.C. 1202 mental state elements [violation of of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA)], written discovery related to CoreLogic’s Parner InfoNet Program [basically asking for a record of when and how information, especially photographs were sold and transferred in the CoreLogic MLS system], and the depositions of Albert McElmon and Ethan Bailey.

However, on January 14, 2016, Judge Jill L. Burkhardt, addressed all the above issues, in-depth and it looks as though CoreLogic may be in hot water.

Part one: Written discovery

The first issue, addresses that of written discovery related to the 17 U.S.C. §1202. There are seven sections addressing the issue. Briefly:

Section “A” (Production 2) deals with the Plaintiffs’ request for information regarding “any actually or potential assignment of copyrights in real estate photographs to any MLS at any time from October 28, 1998 to May 7, 2014.” The Court denied the claim as it would “limit the discovery” the Plaintiff is seeking.

Section “B” (Interrogatory Nos. 11-12) “seeks information regarding the efforts of CoreLogic and other, to the extent that CoreLogic is aware, ‘to have photographers assign their copyrights in real estate photographs to any MLS at any time from October 28, 1998 to May 7, 2014.’” The Motion to Compel was denied, however, CoreLogic must provide a verified response that either “identifies any assignment efforts of which CoreLogic is aware, or states that the identified documents reflect all of the assignment efforts” before January 28, 2016.

Section “C” (Request for Production No. 3) seeks documents relating to “any DMCA notices [CoreLogic] received at any time from October 28, 1998 to May 7, 2014.” The Court found that the Plaintiffs’ requests were improperly narrow (and their Motion was denied until it’s revised), but CoreLogic shall produce all documents related to the DMCA notices on or before January 28, 2016.

Section “D” (Interrogatory No. 7) seeks information identifying “all software that read any metadata tag/field on digital photographs at any time from October 28, 1998 to May 7, 2014.” The Plaintiff’s Motion was found to be overbroad, but shall be narrowed appropriately and CoreLogic shall produce verified supplemental responses to this narrowed revision on or before January 28, 2016.

Section “E” (Request for Production No. 4) seeks documents CoreLogic received “from any attorney regarding this lawsuit prior to being served with the complaint on August 28, 2014. This Motion was granted and the CoreLogic shall produce the documents on or before January 28, 2016.

Section “F” (Request for Production No. 5) seeks “in native format, the organizational charts described during the deposition of [CoreLogic’s] employee Leticia Ocamp during the time period of 2011 to present.” The Motion was denied as a previous request seeking identical information was made.

Section “G” (Interrogatory Nos. 1-6, 19) seeks information “related to CoreLogic’s employment of both current and former in-house counsel, outside law firms, and software engineers.” CoreLogic will be compelled to provide the information, however, the Plaintiffs will need to revise their overbroad terms into something more specific (exactly what documents they seek and from whom).

Part two: CoreLogic’s InfoNet Program

The second section deals with written discovery related to the InfoNet Program. The Plaintiffs are requesting information related to the prospective users of CoreLogic’s Partner InfoNet Program, including reports and other documents regarding the internal workings, functionality, and financial status of the Partner InfoNet Program.

The Plaintiffs will revise their over-broad requests and CoreLogic will produce all documents in their custody and control, including to those documents sent and received from any related or prospective MLS partners of the Partner InfoNet Program, including prospective users of the products: RealQuest Pro, Appraisal Suite, Connect2Data, MLS Data Packages, Bulk Licensing Web Service, MLS Listing-Other, Advisory, Onsite and Onsite Plus, BPO Check, and LSAM that refer to or address issues of rights to display photographs and/or copyright infringement.

Part three: Depositions

The final section addresses the depositions of Albert McElmon and Ethan Bailey. The Motion seeks to compel the continuation of the September 2, 2015 deposition of McElmon and Bailey. The Court denied the Motion to continue deposing them stating that they had ample time, they simply chose not to use is wisely.

In summary

To summarize, CoreLogic will be compelled to provide the following evidence:

  • A verified response as to whether or not the assignments reflect identified documents
  • Produce all documents related to the DMCA notices
  • Produce verified supplemental responses to the metadata tag/field request
  • Produce documents regarding previous legal consultations
  • Provide documents regarding previous employees: in-house counsel, outside law firms, and software engineers
  • Provide all documents in their custody and control, including to those documents sent and received from any related or prospective MLS partners which is quite an extensive list.

As the deadline for providing this information was last week, it will be interesting to see what the next steps will be for CoreLogic.

Will the court decide that they have indeed violated the copyright laws, or will the decide that Stevens does not quite have enough information to make a case?

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Real Estate Technology

Lennar is building an entire community of 3D printed homes in Austin

(TECHNOLOGY) With material and labor shortages impacting new construction, Lennar is developing a new strategy to keep up with demand: 3D printed homes.



3d printed homes by Lennar

With material and labor shortages impacting new home construction, companies are having to develop new strategies to keep up with demand. Lennar, one of the largest homebuilders in the nation, is turning to 3D printing technology as a way to build homes faster than conventional methods. One Austin community is slated to break ground on 100 3D printed homes in 2022. Lennar partnered with ICON to bring this community to the Texas city.

3D printed homes – theory or practice?

Last year, The Washington Post called 3-D homes “futuristic” and “homes of the future.” 3D printed homes are supposed to be less expensive to build and energy-efficient, but the real push for 3D printed homes is the time frame for building.  3D Homes can go up much quicker than traditional homes while following code and building structures that can withstand the weather conditions of the area. Still, it’s a new technology. Currently, only homes up to 3,000 square feet can be built through 3D printing.

3d printed homes by Lennar

Concerns about 3D printed homes

According to Fictiv, a Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem, 3D printing has grown from $4.4 billion in 2013 to an industry bringing in a projected $21 billion in 2021. 3D printing is changing many industries, from jewelry to healthcare. 3D printed homes hold a lot of potential, but there are skeptics in the construction industry. The technology is in its early days. Currently, only walls are being printed. Foundations still need to be built. Currently, roofs are not being printed. Some experts believe that it may take 30 to 40 years to see a disruption in the construction industry.

Lennar is not the first company to build 3D homes. New Story, a San Francisco non-profit, partnered with ICON to build 50 3D printers in Tabasco, Mexico. A German-based company, Peri, partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build a 3D-printed home in Tempe, Arizona. Apis Cor built a home in Russia in just 24 hours using 3D technology.

We’ll have to watch and see how 3D printing changes construction.

3d printed homes by Lennar

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Real Estate Technology

1 in 3 houses are already smart homes – do you know your obligations when marketing one?

Realtors may market a home as smart homes, so do you know what qualifies and what disclosures are required?



smart homes

Did you know that a third of all homes in America currently meet the requirement to be called a “smart home,” and that is expected to rise to 54% in less than 24 months? What are you doing to properly market your listings accordingly? How are you studying the trend to make sure people that need accessibility features of smart homes are accommodated?

This was the very topic at hand at a lively panel at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo led by Craig Grant, CEO of The Real Estate Technology Institute & and Brandon Doyle, a Maple Grove, Minnesota Realtor and host of “Home Tech Decisions” on YouTube. The overarching theme of the discussion was the benefits of smart homes to the real estate business.

Grant notes that it doesn’t take large investments to make a house a smart home. “Just having a few devices in specific categories, such as certain lighting, security cameras, or appliances, qualifies a home to be a smart home,” he notes.

To call a home “smart,” it must have a reliable internet connection and smart items in at least three categories, and may then be marketed as such.

“These homes were once only for the ultra rich, but we’ve gone from only super-wealthy people like Bill Gates having these products to every home now having at least one or two smart items,” said Doyle, who jokes that companies like Amazon basically give away these devices as a “gateway drug” to other connected devices.

The two presented data revealing that 26% of Baby Boomers currently have smart home technologies in their homes, 49% of Generation Xers, and 77% of Millennials.

This data implies that rapid increase you should expect in the market, as consumers increasingly own smart home features, but will also expect them as part of a listing.

The panelists note that it is not just novelty that consumers seek, but ease of use and accessibility, thus the popularity of products like lighting systems, carbon monoxide detectors, and digital thermostats.

“Smart home technology can now be used by seniors and those with disabilities to assist them in day-to-day activities,” noted Grant. He adds that real estate professionals play a role in being able to educate senior buyers and their families of how smart homes can aide their lives. He illustrates with the examples of smart home devices that detect falls, voice-activated features like curtains, and aides that help the visually impaired and hearing impaired.

The panelists acknowledged the risks associated with smart homes (like the vulnerability of not changing passswords from the default or when moving away, and the listening features of smart devices), but ultimately conclude that settings can often disable these features, and that the rewards outweigh the risk.

They also asserted that Realtors have an obligation to know all rules and requirements regarding selling a smart home, such as explaining what devices are included in the close of a property, and disclosing any hazards, as well as adhering to all privacy laws.

Although not woven into the panel, the National Association of Realtors (host of the annual conference) does offer an inexpensive, 12 credit hour certification course, “Smart Home Certification” which could be the shorcut to understanding your obligations when selling or marketing a smart home.

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Real Estate Technology

AI can now spot fake landlords and rental scams

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) False rental listings have risen so is helping renters by offering education and guidance on how to avoid becoming a target of rental fraud.


on scammer

Even with a global pandemic going on, some US renters still need to find a new place to live. The world keeps spinning and people are having to find ways to adapt. Unfortunately, as more people are turning to fully online resources to find their next property, it can be harder for some to tell fact from fiction. That is where steps in.

Online scammers are in full effect creating fake landlords and rental listings to lure people into fraudulent deals. is a new, AI-driven tool that helps people stay away from potential rental fraud. was created by Onerent, a small-residential rental manager on the West Coast. This new tool is designed to help renters avoid losing money and personal information to rental scams. According to the website, the tool was created by gathering thousands of fraudulent rental listings over the past several years and feeding them into a machine learning model. When renters input listing information, the AI uses that to track patterns in the contact information which allows it to tell if the listing is actually a scam.

Rental fraud has become a huge problem in the U.S. market with over 5 million U.S. renters reporting losing money to rental scams. creators hope that their tool can help more renters avoid this type of heartbreak.

We want to educate renters of the dangers of rental scams and save the money, risk, and fear of rental fraud. Any details we verify as scam will help us build a database of scammers,” said Rico Mok, co-founder of Onerent. has a simple interface. All users need to do is input the listing phone number, email address, owner name, URL, and property address of a potential rental property and the AI will be able to tell if this is a legitimate listing.

The website also includes some helpful information for renters on how to spot a potential rental scam and what to do if they come across a fraudulent listing. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Rental listings being priced at a huge discount compared to similar homes in the area
  • Communicating with strange and sporadic emails
  • Requesting money upfront via wire transfer or prepaid debit card is helping renters navigate a frequently changing world by offering education and guidance on how to avoid becoming a target of rental fraud.

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