Right-clicking and plagiarism. The highest form of flattery, or just lazy and unimaginative?

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I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Except I did say it myself.

We represented a client on the sale of their home in November. The new owner has now listed the property for sale. They listed with another agent, although you wouldn’t know this at first blush. Or second.

When we list a home for sale, Steve and I go to great lengths to design marketing materials which present the offering in the best possible light. It takes money, and it takes effort. We hire and pay for a professional photographer to take the photos, forty or more. We pour through the photos to select the best for inclusion in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and in our online advertising. Then, we go about writing descriptive and compelling copy which will best inspire a buyer.  The MLS, and even Realtor.com, limits us to 2000 characters of descriptive text. I always find this challenging, but through careful editing, I manage.

So when our closed sale, a sale that is so recent I suspect the supplemental tax bill hasn’t caught up with the new owner yet, reappeared a mere four months later, I was amazed to see the new MLS listing. The photos are ours, depicting the home and my client’s, the former owner’s, furnishings and appointments in all of their former glory. And the text is ours, verbatim, with not an adjective or punctuation mark out of place – all 2000 characters.

What is wrong with this? Well, nothing I suppose if you think it was also okay to borrow your 12th grade Madame Bovary essay from your cousin, Freddie, or your Political Science term paper from George Will. But that was wrong, and so is this. It is a copyright infringement, not to mention just bad form.

If you are still a bit fuzzy, let me help.

From the Sandicor, Inc. MLS Rules and Regulations:

If a listing broker desires to use the photographs, drawings or similar “Media” from a former listing made by another participant or subscriber (the “Original Listing Broker”) in connection with the new listing broker’s active listing, the new listing broker shall first obtain the written permission of the “Original Listing Broker” to do so.

And before you go bagging my words, did you see the block quotes I used above? This is a technique used to indicate that these sentences were written by someone else.

If a listing broker desires to use the remarks from a former listing made by another Participant or Subscriber (the “Original Listing Broker”) in connection with the new listing broker’s active listing, the new listing broker shall first obtain the written permission of the “Original Listing Broker” to do so.

Look! I did it again! I couldn’t have said it better myself, and I didn’t, so I am giving credit to the source.

I clearly can not claim exclusive rights to the words “stately” or “flagstone,” but the phrase “The front yard design is accented by stately palms & by flagstone steps leading to…” is eerily familiar, as are all of the other phrases that bracket these words.

Woo – I feel better. In our next installment, we will be tackling the ethical question of whether or not depicting a home as it once was, and not as it is now, without the proper disclaimer is misleading and therefore could be construed as false advertising.

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