Protect Your Website From Copyright Claims

Use this risk management strategy, especially if you’re using any third-party content on your website or business materials.
A network and copyright symbol between person working on laptops

© Jutta Kuss - Getty Images

Copyright claims are growing in the real estate industry, and many cases end in a judgment against the agent or brokerage accused of violations. Your website or business materials may put you at greater risk for litigation than you think.

You could be held liable for copyright infringement even for photos from the MLS that are provided by a third party but appear on your website through an IDX display. Having a risk management strategy in place can help protect you and your business, says Chloe Hecht, senior counsel at the National Association of REALTORS®, in NAR’s latest “Window to the Law” video.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, which was passed in 1998, may offer some protections when posting third-party content—but it’s not a foolproof defense. The DMCA is a federal law that provides a “safe harbor” to avoid some copyright infringement claims, but certain procedures must be met.

Hecht highlights some of those steps in the video, including:

  • Designate a copyright agent. This person will be responsible for receiving any takedown notices in case of copyright claims and will need to be listed as a contact and copyright owner on your website, along with their contact information. Also, register the copyright agent with the Copyright Office.
  • Comply with the DMCA’s takedown procedure. After receiving any takedown notice due to a copyright allegation, promptly remove the content in question. Then, notify the person filing the complaint of its removal. “If the alleged infringer submits a counternotice, provide a copy of that counternotice to the copyright owner and state that the allegedly infringing content will be restored in 10 business days unless the copyright owner initiates a lawsuit,” Hecht says in the video. “Absent such a lawsuit, you may restore the content to your website.”
  • Include a notice at your site. Inform website users of your copyright policy and include it within your website’s terms of use. View an example under the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)” section at Also, view the “Termination” section, which informs website users of enforcement for terminating repeat infringers.

Access additional copyright resources at