Copyright is the branch of intellectual property that protects creative works. A copyright owner has exclusive rights that allow control in how the copyrighted work is used by others. For example, using a photograph without permission in an advertisement, or playing music without a license at an event, may create liability for copyright infringement.

Real estate professionals must be cognizant of copyright issues when it comes to listing content, most notably in connection with listing photographs. As original works of authorship, listing photographs are copyrighted, and the owner may dictate how the photos are used.

Improper use of listing content can create legal problems for agents, brokerages and MLSs. It's crucial that real estate professionals know their rights regarding listing photos and listing content, as well as risk management strategies that can be used to avoid copyright infringement. Complying with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) will also protect website owners from a third party's misuse of photographs within an IDX feed.

Do you know your listing content rights? Explore legal resources on copyright issues for real estate professionals.