COURT SAYS MLS IS A FORUM FOR REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS

By
Real Estate Agent with Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate 303829;0225082372

MUST READ - MLS IS for BROKERS TO SHARE INFORMATION - IT IS NOT PUBLIC INFORMATION


[Decision]

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
gain. 

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
MLS data. 

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"
use. 

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. 

 

 

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Comments 34 New Comment

Ambassador
2,274,958
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

This is really good info Lenn!  I am very concerned about the outsiders who are demanding access to our MLS, and the tendancy to give "the public" everything they want - at no cost to them.  The agents provide the listings, photos, descriptions and the dues that pay for the MLS staff to run all the computers.  There is definitely a cost that I am paying and I don't want to share my resources with aggregators who want to get between me and my clients!

Vicki.  Folks that want listing information for free appear to believe that we agents work for free to get the listings in the MLS.  WAIT. . . WE DO!!!


At first I thought this was great news, but now I am not sure I understand fully all of the implications it can have on how it changes how we do business.
I think that the perception that the MLS should be free to all shows the perception of the general public regarding real estate agents. I don't see any other business model where people are not expected to be charged for their services like we are.
Alissa.  I don't either.  The fact that every newspaper, every FSBO site, every lead machine, every house value site, every one who wants traffic to their web page
to sell something, wants home listings surely should tell us something about the value of the MLS and IDX links. 

I agree with you Lenn.. also above my pay level but I do believe there may be some major implications as many MLS associations merge and agents finally  realize this is not a good thing.
Kaye.  You are right.  Some times when a thing doesn't sound right, means that it isn't.

Where on earth do you find this stuff, Lenn?  Great information!  Thank you.
Margaret.  Thanks for commenting.  I follow copyright stuff.
August 24, 2007 07:41 AM
Rainmaker
79,666
Meg Zoller
Houston Fine Homes
Keller Williams

Lenn - Do you have any updated information on this?  I am interested in hearing more on this subject. Again, I greatly appreciate your time.

Happy New Year!

January 02, 2008 02:09 AM
Ambassador
2,274,958
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Meg.  No, nothing further.  I'm sure some research time on the Internet would produce more info.  I was hoping that readers would read it and understand that the matter of the public access to the MLS isn't as cut and dry as the DOJ wants to make it appear. 

I guess I was hoping that the NAR attorneys would find it too.

 

January 02, 2008 06:35 AM
Rainmaker
1,202,853
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results
BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% of the Time

What a visionary you are. 

 

 

October 06, 2011 02:42 PM
Ambassador
2,274,958
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Carla.  Thanks.  Nice chatting with you this evening.

 

October 06, 2011 08:16 PM
Ambassador
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Lenn Harley

Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
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