Why SOPA Matters For Realtors
by Eric Stegemann
on Jan 17, 2012
Listed in News, Professionalism

Let me start out by saying that at Tribus, we support the intellectual property and creativity of those creating copyrighted content.

However, for 24 hours TribusGroup.com is participating in the anti-SOPA campaign. As you may have seen some of our text etc is blocked out to show what the web may be like in a time if SOPA or PIPA pass our Congress. Not because we’re “jumping on the bandwagon,” but instead because we feel this could cause real harm to the real estate ecosystem.

I thought I would do my best to explain what this could mean for Realtors out there.

First of all, in our business everyday, we deal with copyrighted content. Consider that everyday you share property flyers with your agents and clients. The photos and the information about that listing are copyrighted. (Did you know that technically the brokerage with the listing owns that information?)
What if however, the brokerage that posted those photos, DIDN’T actually own them? What if the professional photographer that had been sent in to take them wasn’t paid correctly and so he didn’t agree to release his copyright on the photos but the agent has them? Now you’re handing out materials you don’t own the copyright to.

Under SOPA / PIPA theoretically they could file a complaint with the government, and have your entire site shut down! Yes – for one photo on one listing, your entire site could be filtered right off the Internet. No more SEO – No more leads – No more branding. For one photo, out of the 100,000 listings your MLS may have with 5 photos each. 1/500,000 – yes. There’s a good chance one photo is in violation. However, again they could demand that all sites with that infringing content be taken off the accessible Internet! All because someone just didn’t know.

How many online videos do you or your agents watch in the office? Each time you watch something (yes WATCH IT, not even host it on your server) that has a copyright on it, there is a penalty of up to 5 years in jail. In addition, Internet Service Providers have the option of proactively blocking sites they think might be infringing around the Internet. If they do they can protect themselves of their own liability for helping to stream this content. Suddenly, you have staffers at ISPs running around blocking any site they want claiming a SOPA / PIPA violation! What kind of Internet does that leave us with?

Brokers, what if one of your agents posted a quote on their company agent roster page that was copyrighted? Your entire site could be taken off of the accessible Internet. Did you know for example that the entire text of the “I Have A Dream” speech from Martin Luther King, JR. is copyrighted? When your agents posted clips of this on Monday on their websites, Facebook profiles, anywhere… wherever that is posted, the entire domain can be removed from the Internet. Poof.

SOPA / PIPA is big brother in every way.

1984 may not have been like 1984, but 2012 could be like it if these bills are allowed to go through.

We encourage you to contact your representatives and let them know how strongly you feel about this bill.
Visit this site and fill in your address to send an email to your Congress representatives.

Eric works with real estate technology companies and brokerages across the country to see what's next for the future of the industry and directs our internal development projects here at TRIBUS.

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