MUST READ - MLS IS for BROKERS TO SHARE INFORMATION - IT IS NOT PUBLIC INFORMATION
Filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Florida
June 21, 2007
Appeals from the United States District Court
for the Southern District of Florida
BUC Int�l Corp. v. Int�l Yacht Council Ltd.
"The vessel listings in the BUCNET database were not available to the public;
only BUCNET licensees had access to these compilations. BUCNET was thus
a broker-to-broker multiple listing service6 (�MLS�), as opposed to a primarily
retail-based website available to the public at large."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Footnotes to the Decision~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
5 In pertinent part, the �BUC Marine Sales and Charter Management System
Membership and Software License Agreement� provides that:
Licensee shall not use, sell, distribute, display, or otherwise transfer, any
information obtained from the BUC Licensed System to others for any purpose
provided however, that Licensee may provide printed listings of vessels for sale or
charter to prospective boat buyers, sellers, or charterers on an individual basis and
in such limited and reasonable quantities for their consideration. No right or
license is granted herein for the use of the BUC Licensed System, databases,
reports, listings or any other item delivered by BUC to Licensee hereunder, for
any third person, or for any use by any third person of the BUC Licensed System.
6 A multiple listing service, or MLS, applies within a specific market, such as the market
for real estate or for the buying and selling of yachts, and provides professionals with a
forum to submit and browse information about properties for sale in that market.
Court decisions upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals have significant importance as
"precedent". Unless reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, this case could be the
model upon which MLSs throughout the country defy attempts by various consumers
groups, non-MLS members to use MLS information on their web sites for commercial
The question in my mind is "where do the web sites using MLS information as bait to
get the public to view their web sites, get that information". If they obtain the information
from one of the various MLSs and use the listing information on their web sites, it would
appear that they are have violated the copyright of the MLS from which they obtained the
The act of obtaining a real estate license and joining an MLS for access to the information
is not the same as joining an MLS to use listing information intended for "broker to broker"
What does that say about the various directories and lead generating web sites that
use information from local MLSs to attract home buyers and sellers to that web site?? The
web site may be selling agent/broker directory listings, selling banner ads from real estate
related vendors; mortgage companies, moving companies, furniture companies, etc.
The home buying and selling consumer is the target of the web site and the
MLS information is the bait.
Realtor.com is licensed by the NAR to do what they do. What about the many other
companies that use MLS information as bait?
UPDATE: SINCE PUBLISHING THIS POST, some of the comments relate to IDX data feeds. I don't believe that this court decision would affect IDX subscriptions at all. IDX feeds are purchased by MLS members and used according to the license agreements between the MLSs and the subscribers. It could affect new entities who try to use the VOW platform which makes the MLS available to folks who sign in.
The entities that I believe COULD be affected by this decision, assuming anyone cares, are competing MLSs, large brokers who wish to operate their own MLS (we've been hearing rumors about them for a year or more), web site owners who join the MLS to gain access to the MLSs and then use the MLS information on their web sites. I'm of the opinion that even brokers who post information ABOUT OTHER BROKERS' listings on their web sites, even though they are members, unless they have permission from every other broker, are violating the MLS copyright by publishing that information.
This is very complidated and may be above my pay grade, but I see implications of this case in the future.