A federal court recently ordered Zillow to pay $8.3 million to VHT Studios for copyright infringement on its Zillow Digs website, bringing into focus a budding issue in the real estate industry centered on listing photos.
VHT filed a lawsuit in 2015 claiming Zillow violated its copyright through the use of its listing photos on Zillow Digs, and later alleged copyright infringement on Zillow’s listings website. The jury dismissed the latter. In a statement, Zillow relayed its intent to overturn the verdict.
“We have persistently maintained our belief that this suit was without merit,” the statement read. “While we are pleased that the majority of original claims were dismissed in this case, we regret that the jury did not find for us completely on those that remained, and will vigorously pursue all options to overturn their verdict. We take copyright protection and enforcement seriously and will continue to respect copyright permissions across our platforms.”
“VHT Studios welcomes the jury’s decision, which protects the interests of real estate photographers and their clients,” said Brian Balduf, co-founder and CEO of VHT Studios, in a statement. “Throughout this long and arduous process to uphold our copyright protections, the VHT Studios team has been proud to take the lead on this important issue. We look forward to continuing to work with our team of nationwide photographers, as well as our industry counterparts, to create a rights management organization to ensure that all real estate photographs are managed properly and protected against unlicensed uses.”
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