Licensing & Copyright Ownership
You paid for work to be created. Who owns it?
See what the National Association of Realtors says: CLICK HERE
There’s confusion that when you hire a photographer to create and deliver files to you that you become the owner. But that is not correct according to copyright laws. Nor would it be with video or any other product that is created along those lines. The creator is always the owner of the commissioned art work, also referred to as intellectual property, and not the one commissioning the works of art to be created. It does not matter if it is for real estate, portraiture, wedding, event, commercial, advertising, editorial, and so on. Unless there is a written signing over of ownership, it remains with the creator. The only way you would have copyright ownership is if a written transfer of ownership for specific images, videos, etc is given to you by the copyright owner. What you have is a license to use these products for your purposes. In the case that no licensing agreement or otherwise is provided to you, you then are automatically assumed by law to have what’s called an implied license. This basically gives you legal protection to use the commissioned works you paid to have created for the purposes for which they were intended without having to worry about copyright infringement.
Every invoice will have a notice of copyright ownership and licensing terms within it. We are trying to avoid being a pain about it, but at the same time making sure everyone is properly educated that they are not the owners of the copyright and can’t sell or transfer ownership of files that do not belong to them. If there is a need to transfer the license to another agent, simply let us know and we'll take care of it for you.
If you would like to look more at the specifics pertaining to copyright ownership and licensing, check out the following sites below. Remember that we are talking about what is the law, and not a matter of personal preference. We understand that real estate associations have their own sets of rules of ethics to follow, which we have no problems with and are happy to follow, but those rules can in no way violate federal copyright laws.
Implied license: https://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/license.html#implied
Transferring of ownership: https://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/license.html#general
This one is referred as Work-for-Hire, but is not applicable here: https://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/ownership.html#works
Here's a copyright summary page: https://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/index.html
Here's the actual copyright website: https://www.copyright.gov/title17/