Posted by: Stephen Mostrom
April 18, 2015
In the United States, the real estate industry is driven by brokers. A broker acts as a liaison between buyer and seller, collecting, on average, a 6% fee for selling a home. The seller is willing to pay this fee—more than 90% of residential home sellers do—because the broker provides a wealth of expertise on a particular market. But where does the broker get his information?
Increasingly, online databases are being used to gather and disseminate information, and the real estate industry is no exception. In the real estate industry, a prominent series of property databases—known as MLS or Multiple Listing Service—has created what it terms an open exchange of information between brokers, embodied by the principle: “Help me sell my inventory and I’ll help you sell yours.”
Yet, while MLS databases provide a free flow of information between brokers and the public, the companies behind these databases have used copyright law to claim ownership of the information. Brokers are free to add and withdrawal information, but they have no ownership stake in the database and are thus limited in their use.
This article will look at the copyright protections afforded online databases—specifically MLS—and how the companies behind MLS data have used this protection to limit the movement of data. Continue reading