Photos used by a different real estate agent

On Feb 28th I shot still photos (not iGUIDE) for an agent. Today the same house was on Facebook and was listed by a different agent. The new agent used my photos from the shoot that I did in February. I am assuming that is illegal, and at very worst is unethical. I have not yet confronted the second agent. Any suggestions on how to handle this? Thanks!

I would just talk to the agent, they may have no idea that it’s wrong. This used to happen to me frequently. If that doesn’t work talk to the broker and then their board. Most mls boards have rule on use of photos from other listings.

This is a case where spelling out very clearly what the usage rights for the images are. If it was not clear in your contract, you really don’t have a leg to Stand on.

Not sure where you are located, but in the US, copyright is automatic and no contract is necessary.

I’m an ass about these situations. I send an invoice to the person using the images. Since infringement carries addition penalties, I charge about 300% of the amount the original client paid plus collection fees.

I then contact the MLS as they will immediately pull the images. In most cases the offender agrees to a sensible fee for usage, but I only allow this if MY client allows it.

I had People Magazine print 6 of my images without approval (they downloaded them from and they ended up sending me a check for $6k.

They are your images for your lifetime plus 70 years. Don’t devalue YOUR worth by giving them away or tolerating theft.


This probably won’t be the last time you’ll run into this. Each time I’ve run into it’s been annoying.

A few things to consider:

  1. What are your licensing terms? Have you educated your realtors on what your terms are? Do they have to acknowledge and agree to them before they download photos?

  2. Many people (not just realtors) don’t realize that photos can’t be re-used without potentially violating copyright. Not that it should matter, but often the mistake is innocent and this can be an opportunity to educate someone.

  3. What do you have to gain or lose by using a hammer vs a carrot? I understand the impulse to want to extract what’s rightfully yours (plus punitive fees), but that often burns bridges. If I’m dealing with an unreasonable person, then I don’t care about that bridge – they bring out the fight in me. But I’ve turned copyright infringers into good clients by speaking firmly and reasonably.

  4. I stand firm about copyright issues not just for my sake, but also for the sake of the photography industry in general. By some measures, we all sink or rise based on how we handle situations like this.

I would start by finding out what your local MLS policies are about this, then talk to your client, and the realtor using your work without permission.

Good luck.

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I would also keep in mind that one of our chief competitors claims they own the rights to every 360 tour they process for clients. I use this as an opening to bring up the rights issue regarding Matterport and how those rights contrast with mine.

I use this as an opening to bring up the rights issue regarding Matterport and how those rights contrast with mine.

How do they contrast?

There are three main points I focus on with clients:

  1. Quality of the end product - I usually demonstrate this by a side to side comparison
  2. I explain the rights issues - they are almost always unaware of this and see it as a negative.
  3. I hype the benefits of incorporating Lidar into the capture process to guarantee accuracy of measurements, floor plans etc - they are usually always pleasantly surprised by this as well.

There is more of course, but I keep it simple unless they ask more questions.
To the point made earlier, you own the rights. I don’t know how Matterport gets away with their policy. In the contract I give the client the right to use the imagery under a specified set of guidelines. You can define how long they have access to the imagery, what media it can be used in, if others in the office have the right to use them etc.

You can also offer a buy out of all rights. This usually is double (or more) the cost of the shoot for me. I must say though, nobody has been willing to or felt they needed all rights for ever.

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Thanks everyone, I talked to the agent that I took the photos for in the first listing in Feb. He also listed the property for the second listing in October. He said he gave permission to the other agent to advertise the listing (although what was posted certainly looked like it was her own listing!!) .
If he paid for the photos for the first listing, I am assuming he can use them again.
I am not sure how ethical it is to use photos from one listing in a second listing since the decor would change and there is a possibility that renos were done. I feel that it should be considered as misrepresentation.
But don’t think I have a leg to stand on since the agent paid for the photos originally. This guy was a great customer until the end of August and then he stopped calling me, so I am not sure what is going on.

As a broker we always ask the photographer if someone requests to use the photos. If its another agent they will be likely asked to pay a nominal license fee.
if its a homeowner they will be asked to attribute the photographer to any posts.

it is not cool for an agent to let another agent use the photos unless the photographer is consulted.

I dont even know what my photographers contract says. I just feels its the right thing to do.

I would remind the agent that photos are not transferable without written authorization from the photographer and if you dont have it in your agent agreement I would add it .

BTW the only reason I do my own iGuide is because there are no photographers locally who offer anything but matter port which I find cheesy and not social media marketing friendly. I always use professionals to shoot photos and video in addition to my iGuide.



Hi Kathy, my wife is a Realtor and she told me that agents reusing other agents images is against the Realtor Ethics Code (NAR). I took a quick look and this is what I found which I believe is the appropriate section:-

  • Standard of Practice 12-10

REALTORS®’ obligation to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public includes Internet content, images, and the URLs and domain names they use, and prohibits REALTORS® from:

  1. engaging in deceptive or unauthorized framing of real estate brokerage websites;
  2. manipulating (e.g., presenting content developed by others) listing and other content in any way that produces a deceptive or misleading result;
  3. deceptively using metatags, keywords or other devices/methods to direct, drive, or divert Internet traffic; or
  4. presenting content developed by others without either attribution or without permission, or
  5. otherwise misleading consumers, including use of misleading images. (Adopted 1/07, Amended 1/18)
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I explain the rights issues - they are almost always unaware of this and see it as a negative.

What are the rights with Matterport? I’d like to know that in case it comes up with clients.

I hype the benefits of incorporating Lidar into the capture process to guarantee accuracy of measurements, floor plans etc - they are usually always pleasantly surprised by this as well.

Is Matterport not Lidar-based? They don’t rely on photogrammetry, do they?

Thanks for the elaboration.

I’m not surprised but I’m glad that it’s spelled out like that.

When I was researching camera systems there was of course a bunch of info around Matterport which seemed to have a strong foot hold already. As I dug deeper and read the user agreement, it clearly spells out that Matterport owns all rights to the content they created from your images.

No Lidar on a Matterport. They use a point cloud system which is not nearly as accurate.

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Good to know all this. Thank you.

I thought that point cloud was lidar? My belief was that Matterport used photogrammetry.

Standard Matterport (their $4K version is photogrammetry) they also offer a camera from Leica which is LIDAR at $18,000!

How did you find out that your photos were used outside your initial sale to the purchasing agent?

My photos were posted on Facebook by an agent I did not do business with!! I found out later that the agent I shot them for gave the second agent permission to use them.

Stand up for your professional rights. Sounds like you have just cause for legal action. I may suggest including something like, “Clients are paying for a Photography Service and are purchasing a “License to Use” the photographs, exclusive for the Marketing for Sale of a specific real estate property,
online and basic print media use.
*Images may NOT be shared or re-sold, to any other party or person including the homeowner. Infraction subject to the Canadian Copyright Act.” in all your shoot agreements.