As you may know, we list homes all over Texas. If someone takes a photo of your home, they can claim copyright ownership to that photo. Sounds kind of crazy to me but that is the law. Since we are a by owner business, most of our clients submit their own photos. To avoid copyright issues we do not use photos from previous listings and ask our clients to confirm they have ownership. Occasionally we might post a photo that an agent has copyright protected. When this happens we might get a cordial notification and we remove the violating photos and move on. Visa versa. For 21 years we have never had an issue. Until now.
We had a listing in Austin where the seller provided the photos. Unbeknownst to us and the seller, one of the photos was from a listing twice before us. It was a photo of the subdivision entrance. Who would have thought one obscure photo would have made a difference. Well it did. We received an email from a Sotheby's agent the other day, demanding that we reimburse him for his whole photo shoot from two years ago. He wanted us to pay $269 for one picture from a photo shoot two years ago. Wow. The truth is, we were in violation with copyright laws for that one photo. Like I stated previously it usually a cordial "sorry i screwed up won't happen again". Or in our case we usually tell the agent, sure no problem go ahead and use it. But to demand we pay for entire shoot? Crazy. I tried to reason with the Sotheby's agent but he wouldn't hear it. It was either pay the $269 for one picture or have a potential $25,000 fine levied against us for this ONE picture that our client provided. After speaking with our legal counsel we were advised it was not worth the fight and against my inner moral center we agreed to pay it.
I was bewildered that this agent from one of the top most prestigious real estate firms in the world would be making such an issue over one photo. There surely has to be an underlying issue here. There was. It turns out this Sotheby's agent was the selling agent on this property two years ago. All I can deduce is that there was some bad blood between the two. In any event this photo issue was one last attempt to "get at" my currently client for not using him to sell this time. They ended up selling with us and sold in less than a week at full price. Why would they pay this other agent 6%? I'm am not really sure if there is a moral or point to this story. Other than to illustrate the insecurities of one agent.
To be fair, this was a unique situation. Most agents I find are decent and honest. But not this guy!