Real estate giant Zillow Group has been sued for yet another copyright infringement case.
It would be recalled that the company is currently facing an ongoing case filed by photo firm VHT, which accused Zillow of stealing photos and allegedly using them without proper permissions. In a new lawsuit filed on September 17, 2018, at the U.S. District Court in California, a professional real estate photographer named George Gutenberg alleges that the company is using hundreds of his images on Zillow without his authorization.
According to complaint, real estate agents typically hire Gutenberg, who specializes in high-end residential and commercial properties in the state’s Coachella Valley, as an independent contractor to photograph a property for a negotiated fee. Gutenberg however retains the copyright to all photographs taken of each property and grants the real estate agent a limited license to use the photographs for up to one year for the purposes of marketing the property, which allows the agent to place the photos on their website, in brochures, real estate magazines, and on the multiple listing service.
The complaint states that the license expressly states that it is not transferable and prohibits third party use without permission from Gutenberg. However, Gutenberg found out earlier this year that Zillow was using 543 of his photographs on its listing detail pages without a license or his permission. He has registered images with the U.S. Copyright Office — a requirement in order to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. The 711-page complaint contains copies of the images at issue as well as screen shots of Zillow’s use of the images.
As a result of the alleged copyright infringement of the photograph, Gutenberg is seeking an award of actual damages and disgorgement of any profits Zillow has made from the images or, alternatively, an award for statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each infringement.
Gutenberg v. Zillow Inc. et al
|United States District Court Central District of California|
|Judge:||David O Carter|
|Nature of Suit||820 Property Rights – Copyrights|
|Cause||17:101 Copyright Infringement|
|Case Filed:||Sep 17, 2018|