So I get a notice that someone is using a few of my photos. I check a listing and, sure enough, something I shot two years ago (and it sold) is on the market again with a new agent — let’s call him Kevin — and he liked my outside pictures a lot, it seems. It happens a fair bit.
So I can either…
- Ask them to remove them.
- Just send them an invoice.
- Report them to MLS.
I chose Option 1 and fired off a quick e-mail. Next morning, no response. So I left a voice mail, too.
Later in the day I got a call while on a photo-shoot and let it go to voice-mail. It was Kevin saying they’d gotten the pictures off Zillow — “a public web site” — and I’d have to provide documentation that I owned them.
I called them back later and explained that just because you found them online didn’t make them free. I have pictures here — they’re not free to use. They’re licensed to people and I retain the copyright. And it’s they who have to prove to MLS that they have the right to use them — Kevin said they’d never heard of that. This despite “doing this for 30 years.” Whatever.
Later I get CC’d on an e-mail from Kevin to our MLS’ compliance department about a complaint against them and they said they were removing my photos.
Meanwhile, I hadn’t reported Kevin at all.
I looked at the compliance e-mail they were responding to and it was a completely different matter that some agent had ratted them out on — on pretty much every other photo in the listing. So now they’ve removed my photos (and admitted to MLS they were using photos without permission) but the original problem Kevin got dinged for still exists.
Of course, Kevin is the victim in all of this.