Real estate site AllHomes.com.au attacked for alleged copyright breaches

Australian real estate site AllHomes has been attacked for allegedly taking content from other sites and posting them on its own, with critics saying it could violate intellectual property law and pose a threat to real estate agencies.

Representatives of AllHomes.com.au were not available for comment prior?t o publication, but a director of AllHomes.com.au told The Age it sometimes takes content from other real estate sites, but argued the ?site is currently available only as free trial.

Robert Larocca, spokesperson for the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, says this activity goes against the nature of the industry and could hurt other agencies.

 “As the site has admitted, it sometimes goes to other sites and no doubt to other sites where vendors are having their homes displayed for the purposes of selling, takes that listing and put it on their own site.”

“Not only do they not have permission for that, but sometimes it could even hurt how the agent is trying to reflect the home in the listing. The marketing may change over time, and an agent could add things to the listing, and moving stuff to a new site might not be updated.”

Larocca also says removing the listing from the site removes control, and says “it’s a bit odd they’ve admitted the behaviour so blatantly.”

“One of the jobs a real estate agent has is to recommend and control the outcome for the client. Because these listings are being taken, they don’t have control over them. It makes it harder for everyone else. They should really be following the rules.”

However, intellectual property lawyer Steve White says there may be some debate as to whether AllHomes’ activity constitutes copyright infringement.

“If this is purely factual material that is being taken down, then AllHomes could have an argument. If you just take the address of a place for sale, it’s difficult to see how that would involve breach of copyright.”

“Of course, if they take pictures, copy and so on, then that could subsist of copyright theft. Things like a snappy headline, etc, would be included in that, because that is what the agent has written. But if it’s simply “this home has two bathrooms, two bedrooms and is up for sale”, then under the current law there is certainly an argument to do so.”

However, some of the listings and pictures appear identical to those on other sites, including RealEstateView, which is owned by the REIV, and agency sites such as LJHooker.com.au.

The REIV says it is still considering its position.

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