What You Should Know
- By agreeing to new terms, ACTRIS Participants and Subscribers are affirming ownership of any listing photographs, preventing vulnerability to copyright lawsuits.
- Brokers Only: ABoR MLS brokers can withhold ACTRIS ownership of content by contacting MLS Staff and signing a separate license agreement. Please note that all Participants receive a broad license to use MLS content for the purpose of buying and selling properties, as well as to provide valuation services.
- ABoR recommends using one of the Photo Listing Agreement forms below when working with a photographer to obtain clear ownership of photos. If you decide not to use the agreements below, you should consult your attorney to review any agreements offered by the photographer.
There's a relevant and ongoing industry discussion related to listing content ownership, particularly with listing photographs. Photographs play a fundamental role in marketing a home between buyers and sellers, and as an industry best practice, it's important to know who owns the photographs and how they're used. The ABoR MLS distributes listing data, including photographs, through its proprietary database and licenses the database to certain third-party portals, such as REALTOR.com and AustinHomeSearch.com, as well as other websites and vendors.
Improper use of listing photographs, however, can create legal problems for agents, brokerages, and the MLS. Authorship and ownership of photographs within the real estate industry is “fractured.” There are many parties—agents, homeowners, professional photographers, etc.—that can take photos and claim ownership of them. To eliminate Central Texas agents' and brokers' vulnerability to lawsuits regarding photo ownership, ABoR and ACTRIS recommend using one of the Photo Listing Agreement forms below when uploading any photos to a listing in the MLS. ABoR and ACTRIS also recommend maintaining records of these signed agreements.
To learn more about the ongoing content ownership discussion, visit the National Association of REALTORS® website.
Photo Agreement Forms
Each of the photo agreement forms listed below vary based on the parties involved. Please download and complete the proper form based on your relationship with your photographer. You do not need to submit the form to ABoR, but agents and brokers should maintain records of these agreements.
- "Work Made for Hire" Agreement: This agreement provides that the commissioned photographs are a “Work for Hire,” which means the broker is the automatic owner of the photographs from their creation.
- "Assignment" Agreement: In this agreement, the photographer assigns all right, title, and interest in the photographs to the broker.
- "Exclusive License" Agreement: A photographer may want to retain his or her ownership of the photographs. In this agreement, the photographer grants the broker an exclusive license to display and distribute the photographs in connection with the real estate industry.
Note: These documents are provided as a sample, and are not intended to be and do not constitute legal advice, or a substitute for specific legal advice or opinions. The user of this sample document should not use this document without consulting legal counsel. The use of this document should be modified to address the specific legal needs of the user.