Copyright & Trademark

Copyright & Trademark

With countless photos, articles, logos, and videos just a click away on a smartphone or computer, it can be tempting to simply grab what you want for your website, presentation or other marketing materials. But just because something you see online or someplace else is easy to find and doesn’t seem to sport a price tag doesn’t mean it’s free—or that you have the right to use it at all. Copyright and trademark laws guard against the misuse of intellectual property, and prescribe remedies and penalties that can be costly and even ruinous, regardless of whether you realized you were doing anything wrong.

Political Advocacy

Current Legislation/Regulation

None at this time.


Find NAR's letters, testimonies, bill updates, and more on the NAR Federal Issues Tracker

Legislative Contact(s):

Melanie Wyne

Daniel Blair

Regulatory Contact(s):

Melanie Wyne

What is the fundamental issue?

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) announced that his committee will launch a sweeping review of the country's copyright law and hold a series of hearings on the matter "in the months ahead.

In remarks at the Library of Congress, Goodlatte argued that existing copyright law lags behind the rapid pace of technology, forcing policymakers to make challenging decisions based on these outdated rules.

While the House Judiciary Chairman did not explicitly say what topics he hopes to cover during the upcoming hearings, his remarks may provide potential clues on copyright issues the committee will tackle. During his comments, Goodlatte touched on a range of copyright challenges that policymakers are currently grappling with, including online piracy, orphan works and music licensing.

I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?

Real estate professionals create valuable content/intellectual property that is increasingly distributed on the internet. That content  must be carefully protected from theft in a manner that does not create serious unintended consequences for members doing business on the internet. Our Multiple Listing Services (MLS) members support continuing protection for compliations of data as REALTORS® compile and utilize collections of information every day through the use of MLSs. These compilations had traditionally been thought to enjoy copyright protection. The 1991 Supreme Court ruling in the Feist v. Rural Telephone Service Company court case made it less clear whether this type of information is protected.

NAR Policy:

NAR will carefully weigh both the need to protect our members' intellectual property through copyright and trademark law while avoiding harmful unintended consequences for our members who increasingly do their business on the internet as proposals for reform are introduced.

We will work through our policy committee process to determine our position on these copyright issues as they arise.

Legislative/Regulatory Status/Outlook

Legislation is likely to be introduced once the series of hearing announced by House Judiciary Chair Goodlatte are completed.

The U.S Copyright Office has issued a Notice of Inquiry to review how photographs are monetized and enforced.

NAR submitted comments suggesting a number of changes to the copyright registration and enforcement system that would help the real estate industry combat the problem of photo scraping. These include:

  • Ease restrictions on group registrations of copyrights
  • Improve the copyright registration process to facilitate online registration
  • Develop a more comprehensive online database of copyright records
  • Permit non-exclusive licensees to seek remedies for copyright infringement.
  • NAR will continue to work with the US Copyright Office as this proceeding moves forward.

NAR Committee:

Federal Technology Policy Advisory Board


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