December 10, 2019 By SnapSentry

Real estate agents, brokers, and photographers know for real estate, and well-placed photos the key is location, location, location.

And one of the best ways to get a home sold is to spread your pictures all over the Internet. In fact, 89% of homebuyers said the photos were useful in making a purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). You’ll want to get as much exposure as you can for the listing so that the house can sell.

The problem is increasing your reach often leaves images vulnerable to infringement. Here’s our guide to watermarking to protect your photos and promote your listing.

How Watermarking Protects Your photos as a Real Estate Agent or Broker

The first question is, who owns the rights to the photos?

If you had no contract with your photographer, then he or she most likely keeps the rights of reprint and redistribution. Remember the days of Blockbuster Video? Giving out copies of the photographer’s work would be like using your VCR to make tapes for your friends to take home after a movie night.

Before you alter, disperse, or start reusing real estate photos, make sure you know where you stand with the photographer. Better yet, here’s a link to sample contracts from the NAR.

Some states prohibit the use of watermarks in the MLS (multiple listing service). Also, policies on portals such as Zillow or Redfin forbid the use of watermarks.

So why watermark your photos?

If you’re going for the most publicity possible, then you’ll want to watermark your photos for three reasons:

  1. Social media, your website, and other platforms allow watermarks. That’s added protection and promotion.

  2. Homebuyers with or without an agent may use the info to contact you. It’s one way to get another offer for your seller or add a buyer to your clientele.

  3. Also, if you end up not selling the home for whatever reason, watermarks protect your investment and prevent other agents from stealing your work. It’s easy to show the photos belong to you, and the other agent’s behavior is unethical. And if someone steals your pictures, at least you get free advertising.

How Watermarking Protects Your Photos as a Real Estate Photographer

It’s bound to happen. There’s your image posted somewhere without your permission. Why?

It’s usually not for malicious reasons. The realtor wants to expose your work all over the internet to get the most eyeballs and get the home sold. Once it hits Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and the rest of social media, the public assumes it’s fair game. Next thing you know, it’s everywhere.

How can you protect your photos online? Watermarking your photos is a quick and straightforward strategy. It’s the first line of defense against those who are casually oblivious of copyright law.

Also, you can register with the US Copyright Office for $55 for 750 photos or about 8 cents per photo. Here’s a step-by-step video. You’ll want to register your photos within 90 days of the first publication to get maximum protection. Registration gives you a better chance of winning a lawsuit if you must go after a real estate agent, broker, appraiser, home inspector, or other home service providers for infringement.

Watermark Real Estate Photos for Protection and Promotion

It’s always a smart idea to watermark photos. Yes, there may be legal gray areas, and we’re definitely not giving copyright law advice.

The simple answer is if you own the rights to the photo, then you can change it. You should always watermark your images to protect them from theft and promote your business or listings.

Try our quick and easy free watermark software, SnapSentry, today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a watermark?
    A watermark is a superimposed, transparent message on a picture or image (usually a signature, stamp, or logo).

  2. Who owns real estate photos?
    The short answer is it depends. You should work out the details upfront with your photographer. Here are sample contracts from the NAR.

  3. What is the real estate photography law?
    It may differ in your state, but generally real estate photography law is covered under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976.

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