Broker DMCA

What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a “Safe Harbor” to online service providers that shields them from copyright liability for the display of infringing content loaded by another brokerage.

An example would be the display on your IDX site of an infringing photo loaded by another office.

These days, lawsuits surrounding the use and ownership of listing photos is not an uncommon trend.

Unless you’re certain every listing photo displayed on your website (regardless of the listing ownership) has the proper rights for use, you could potentially be at risk for a similar lawsuit.

The DMCA protects customers affected by the use of an image with copyright issues, but it does not protect the person who originated the infringed photo.

Take a moment to watch the brief, yet informative video below on the DMCA provided by NAR.


In a Nutshell – 6 Things to Know About Safe Harbor

  1. The DMCA provides a “Safe Harbor” to online service providers to protect them from copyright liability for monetary damages for posting of infringing content contained in listings.
  2. Online service provider is broadly defined and included Stellar MLS and our customers that maintain websites of listings without modification of the content. Example: IDX sites.
  3. The DMCA requires registering a “designated agent” with the U.S. Copyright Offices. Fees to register are relatively inexpensive.
  4. Each site must post the required notice and designated agent contact information.
  5. Designated agent received notice of any claimed infringement (take-down notice).
  6. The designated agent must then determine if the notice is proper and then promptly remove or disable access to the infringing work and notify the claimant.

Tips for Avoiding Photo Copyright Issues

Three great tips to share with colleagues. Remember – DMCA doesn’t protect the originator of the infringing photo. It’s best to just stay out of trouble.

  1. Take the photo yourself
  2. Get the proper license or rights to use photos taken by someone else
  3. Don't scrape photos from the internet

Stellar MLS Image Toolkit

We’ve created a toolkit to further explain DMCA, how to register, the costs, what to do should you receive a take-down notice and more.

Download Your Toolkit