Anti-Scraping Lawsuits Are Going Crazy in the Real Estate Industry (Catch-Up Post)

4 01 2013

By Jake McGowan with comments from Eric

The real estate listings industry has become increasingly concerned with competitive “scraping” by multiple listing service websites. After all, MLS owners make money by exploiting an information asymmetry–they charge participating brokers and agents for access to the database listings. If a website legally scrapes and distributes the MLS’s data, it destroys the valuable information asymmetry and thus hurts the listing services’ revenues.

For these reasons, some MLS sites have tried to squash this type of competition by taking the scrapers to court for copyright infringement. But the listings in question often consist largely of photographs and generic descriptions. Does copyright even apply in the first place?


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