MLS Photos: Make Sure You Have the Appropriate Permission Before Using Someone Else’s Photos

The MLS Advisory Group recently approved MLS rule changes intended to clarify a listing agent’s responsibilities when adding photos and other media to the MLS.  The new changes make clear that listing agents must have the necessary authorization form the photo’s copyright owner before submitting it to the MLS.

The copyright owner is generally the person who took the photo unless that person has assigned the copyright to another person.  In cases where a listing agent hires a professional photographer to take photos of their listing, the agent should take care to ensure that the photographer (copyright owner) provides an assignment of the photographer’s copyright to the agent or at a minimum provides the agent with a license to use the copyrighted photos within the MLS and on all of the agent’s marketing materials.

This rule also applies to listing agents that wish to re-use photos submitted by another agent on a previous listing and requires the new listing agent to obtain written authorization from the photo’s copyright owner. The MLS Advisory Group has established a $250 fine for failing to obtain the required authorization defined in MLS rule 1.25 below.

1.25    Submission of Media (Images, Virtual Tours, Hyperlinks, and Documents):  All media files and hyperlinks submitted to multiple shall contain or link to information pertinent to the listed property only and shall comply with the requirements below.  Media previously submitted by a Participant may not be used by other Participants on subsequent listings without written authorization from the copyright owner (The copyright owner is the creator of the original work unless there is a written agreement by which the creator assigns the copyright to another person).

Participant shall assure that any media, including photographs, floor plans, documents or other information pertaining to listed properties that are included in the listing information for which Participant is the designated broker, is included in the MLS System with the written consent of the media’s copyright owner (e.g., previous Participant/Subscriber, homeowner, photographer, builder, architect, etc.).



a. Charges for initial rules violation:

8.  For failure to comply with Rule 1.25 there shall automatically be a charge of $250.00 for the first violation and $500.00 for each additional violation.


Shawn Dauphine


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • What about all the third party sharks that pirate our listings (with our media) and then re sell the leads back to agents?

  • So has HAR promulgated the required consent form for media copyright owners to sign? Does this mean we have to send HAR this signed written consent for each listing? I understand the reasoning behind helping listing agents keep their media from being used in future listings by others, but I don’t understand how this process is suppose to work since the article only tells what the fines/punishment are. Would like to know how it will be determined if media is the agent’s or not as well. I take a lot of my own photos.

  • People are always stilling my photos. I would love to report all of you for doing so. How can I report it? Does the fine go to me if you use my photos?

  • I think this is absolutely fantastic! How often does the listing agent post inaccurate/old photos from years ago? It’s not fair and misleading to consumers and to showing agents. Kudos!


#MFM: Houston Parks