If I Took The Photo, It's MINE...Here, There and Everywhere

Real Estate Agent with www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 228209

If I Took The Photo, It's MINE...Here, There and Everywhere...Think Twice Before Snatching Photos.  

As per AR Community Guidelines,

This applies to all photos taken by a member, peer OR a PAID photo taken by a photographer on behalf of a member or peer.

I see it time and time again - agents snatching photos that they see and fall in love with - posting someone else's photos on their own blogs, websites and social media.  Unless you have permission, that photo is NOT yours to use...ANYWHERE!

Lenn Harley has written some very good advice about this topic - as have others.  However, for some, they think that they will not be 'found' and continue to use others' photos as though they were their own.  

When a Cease and Desist letter has been sent, I've had people say to me, "Well, I just took it from Google!"  Umm...NO, that is unacceptable!  Take your own photos or purchase them and you'll never be the recipient of one of those letters, or worse yet, a HEFTY fine being levied upon you.

I was alerted several years ago about one of my photos being used on someone else's site.  What I discovered was that the agent had copied MY ENTIRE SITE - including use of the CRS logo (which she was not a CRS).  I was in shock!  When called about it, the agent proclaimed, "I don't know why you're upset about it - it's a COMPLIMENT to you!"  

I politely used the analogy of her writing a manuscript and leaving it on her desk; I take that manuscript and have it published, claiming it as mine.  Do you know, she STILL argued about it?!  It wasn't until I told her that I would be suing her and she would be hearing from my attorney in 24 hours, that she realized I meant business.

It's very easy to miss hidden, copyrights in photos - Can you find all of the © in this photo?  Think of the time you would save by simply using your own photos or hiring someone to take your photos for you!

Copyrighted photo© Debe Maxwell | The Maxwell House Group | SavvyBroker@me.com | If I Took The Photo, It's MINE...Here, There and Everywhere


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  1. Debbie Reynolds 01/09/2016 07:00 AM
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Hannah Williams
Re/Max Eastern inc. - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-953-8818

Debe Maxwell  I try to sign my photos esecially when I have taken time with them or you will never know where they will show up ..good post

Jan 07, 2016 05:46 AM #1
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Such a simple thing - using your own photos.  Such a simple thing - using someone elses' photo!  It all comes down to professionalism and honesty.  No wonder one must be diligent!

Jan 07, 2016 06:03 AM #2
Jack Tenold
Jack Tenold LLC - Spokane, WA
Specializing in Reverse Mortgages

A new year and a good time to remind folks about respecting property and to honor copyrights.  Using anything other than my own photos makes me nervous.  Only by enlarging the image on my screen was I able to see the copyright symbols in your photograph.  Thanks for showing that to us and writing an important message.   

Jan 07, 2016 06:09 AM #3
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

In one of my law suits the attorney for the other side actually wrote my attorney and said "they got it off yahoo".  My attorney explained to them that photos are not really ON Google, Yahoo and Bing. search results are there. Said results proved that the photo was just one click away from my site.  Yup, thanks for the check.

Jan 07, 2016 06:10 AM #4
Shannon Milligan, Richmond VA Real Estate Agent/Associate Broker
RVA Home Team - Richmond, VA
RVA Home Team - Winning with Integrity.

I went to work for a different broker several years ago and during my first week I found out they used MY photo on their website. Needless to say, I didn't stay their long. 


Jan 07, 2016 06:18 AM #5
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

This is a pet peeve. I don't even bother to call agents anymore. I send an email to them and copy their broker. That usually results in them taking it down.

Jan 07, 2016 09:31 AM #6
Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

I think people are slowly learning the hard way. Agents really need education about what the internet actually is and how to function on it. They just don't understand it as you well know. There is no quick way around building your own website presence. It cannot be off the back of someone else.

Jan 07, 2016 09:36 AM #7
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Debe stealing someone else's work is very bad business.  If the they take liberties with pictures it leave you to wonder what else they are taking liberties with.

Jan 07, 2016 10:24 AM #8
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

Debe, it's inexcusable.  Something like this happened to me as well, another agent had used a dozen of my photos from my blog on their website.  some of those were taken from my backyard! I 've started using pretty low image quality to post online now so maybe that will be a discouragement.

Jan 07, 2016 10:47 AM #9
Toronto, ON

Debe Maxwell - Do you watermark all of your photos with one or more (c) symbols?  Do you also put in your name beside the (c)?  Without your name, it would not indicate that you own the copyright.

Jan 07, 2016 01:11 PM #10
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Marc is wrong, wrong, wrong.

You own the copyright the instant you "CREATE" the image or write the copy, no matter where it's published.

That's the law and I'm about $200,000 better off knowing copyright law.

The exceptions are limited and would only apply following your sale/assignment of said copyright.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Jan 08, 2016 12:37 AM #11
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

I agree with George.  Disrespect for one law is not just that.  To me it indicates a person who shouldn't be expected to respect ANY law.

Jan 08, 2016 12:39 AM #12
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Debe -- a great post and I love the enthusiasm expressed in the comments.  

Happy Belated New Year!

Jan 08, 2016 01:37 AM #13
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I agree with comments that, everyone will keep using social media public posted pictures till we hear about large fees. 

Jan 09, 2016 04:16 PM #14
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

The problem seems to be getting worse and I don't think we can say this too many times. So many people have had issues with photos and content being stoelen, myself as well (nothing recently...as far as I know). I have been successful with emails to get things removed. I shudder to think what might be out there on others' sites that is mine and I don't know about it


Jan 10, 2016 02:35 AM #15
Teral McDowell
Referral Patners LLC - Murphy, TX

So true; if it's yours you never have to worry about where you post it.

Jan 10, 2016 02:43 AM #16
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Usually, all you have to do is ask.  I've contacted people for permission and they've been happy to say yes.  And vice versa. 

Jan 10, 2016 12:32 PM #17
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Debe, yeah!  You got Lenn out of hiding! 

It's so easy to get permission in most cases.  It's even easier to take your own pictures.

Jan 10, 2016 12:35 PM #18
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Actually, what my attorney used was a "Cease and Desist and Demand for Damages" letter.

That really gets their attention.  In fact, the first letter makes a demand of between $2K and $10K depending on how much of my copyrights they used.

Jan 14, 2016 02:52 AM #19
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

Lenn has the right approach, and it works. I have one picture that I've seen on many sites in the area, and some day I will hire someone to collect. Westhaven

Jan 14, 2016 05:13 AM #20
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Debe Maxwell, CRS

Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods
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