RSS feeds on your website? You may be in copyright violation

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Realtor RSS FeedsIn today’s world of real estate websites and blogs, fresh content is a must. One strategy site owners use is to place RSS news feed plugins on their websites. The RSS plugin draws news headlines form other companies and generally these headlines link directly back to the source of the news.

I was contacted by a client who received a Getty Images letter making a payment demand for the unauthorized use of images on his website. My client stated that he did not actually place the images on his site and that the images in question were from the full RSS feed that he embedded from

I responded on my client’s behalf to the law firm seeking legal action, stating the alleged infringed photos were actually purchased as licensed images by The law firm dropped the case and I was motivated to research the use of RSS feeds by Realtors.

In general, copying material without permission of the copyright owner is copyright infringement. However, there is an interesting legal questioned raised by RSS. By making your website available by RSS, are you granting permission for others to republish your RSS feed?

In other words, RSS is an abbreviation, which includes the word “Syndication.” Syndication generally means that the owner is making the material available to be accessed in other locations, which is essentially republishing. To my knowledge, the courts have not come up with a clear answer to whether republishing an RSS feed is actually copyright infringement.

I researched a number of companies to inquire as to their official legal positions on the use of their RSS feeds. RSS Feed

Lexie Puckett, Sr. Communications Manager Move/ stated, " authorizes the use of RSS content through direct contractual agreements. Any other use of RSS content is subject to our Terms of Service, which can be found here: The Terms of Service currently do not permit re-publication or commercial use of RSS content." I asked for additional clarification and confirmed, unless that user has written permission or has a contractual agreement with Move/, nobody is allowed to use RSS feeds in any manner.

Zillow and Inman allow the use of their HEADLINE RSS feeds as long as the headlines link back to the original article location. Vox Media who owns Curbed allows for users to post a one or two sentence excerpt in your blog post so long as the citation links back to the original article location where the audience can read the entire post.

The use of RSS feeds and compliance by Realtors has never been addressed until now.

Your take-a-way?

When you blog, you need to make sure you are 100% compliant with third-party data sources.



Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Eileen Burns 01/29/2016 09:08 PM
Real Estate Technology & Tools
copyright infringement
rss feeds
terms and conditions
news feeds
getty images

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Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

CJ, Sounds like I'm better off writing my own fresh content rather than worrying about the Gettymonster or someone else coming after my site.  Bill

Jan 29, 2016 04:12 AM #1
Joy Bender
Compass - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Partner - The Private Client Network

Hi CJ that is astounding an RSS feed could cause so much trouble!  Thanks for sharing. 

Jan 29, 2016 04:32 AM #2
Pat Starnes-Front Gate Realty
Front Gate Real Estate - Brandon, MS
601-991-2900 Office; 601-278-4513 Cell

Wow. There's so much to be aware of. I do not want to get in trouble over a copyright violation!

Jan 29, 2016 05:06 AM #3
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

Very interesting CJ. Excellent information. I would only place a RSS feed of a blog of my own on a different site such as my Word press site but I did not know a feed from some source could be illegal.

Jan 29, 2016 07:51 AM #4
Women of Westchester Working Together
Women of Westchester Working Together - West Harrison, NY
Women helping Women get ahead

Interesting info.  

Years ago, I couldn't figure out how to do this on my site, so I dropped it.  I'm glad I did because now I don't want for another reason.  I'm an affiliate w/ Amazon and that is not allowed (they have some odd rules).  So it's better safe than sorry.  

Jan 29, 2016 08:07 AM #5
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

That sounds like a law firm doing an image search and seeking settlement. But your greater point is important. 

Jan 29, 2016 08:24 AM #6
Linda Guess
Keller Williams Tri-Lakes Branson, MO - Branson, MO
Branson area real estate sales.

This is good information.  I personally will be very careful using RSS feeds.

Jan 29, 2016 08:57 AM #7
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson

My own content is definitely the answer. No chance that I would want to use content that is used elsewhere. Interesting post.

Jan 29, 2016 12:31 PM #8
Craig Cooper
Chase International Real Estate - Tahoe City, CA
Creating-Preserving-Growing Wealth in Real Estate

Great subject to be made aware of CJ. There are many traps that unsuspecting real estate practitioners may find themselves caught in, and those are traps that don't typically involve any bad intent on our part. None the less, I like to stay away from pot holes on the freeway!

Jan 29, 2016 05:05 PM #9
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Good to know, thank you! No feeds is probably the best answer if there is no easy way to protect yourself.

Jan 31, 2016 04:11 AM #10
Roberta Murphy
San Diego Previews Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate and Homes

Good post, CJ! Have always fretted over duplicate content and might also worry about liability when photos I have purchased are distributed to others. Too many attorneys trolling for bu$ine$$.

Feb 05, 2016 08:37 AM #11
Fred Griffin, on leave of absence from ActiveRain
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

     Matt Drudge claims that a Supreme Court Justice told him that very soon, syndication feeds, and sites that post headlines with links (like Drudge Report) are going to face severe copyright litigation.  Drudge believes that his site will be targeted and taken down.  

Feb 05, 2016 11:58 AM #12
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