Category : Data Licensing

Artificial Intelligence Bots Data Licensing Major Real Estate Portals MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Risk Management

Is Data Scraping Legal?

Is Data Scraping Legal?

The question of Data Scraping has been a controversial issue for a long time. The year 2017 witnessed several important developments focused on interpretations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in separate cases involving Craigslist and Linkedin.

What is Data Scraping? Also known as Web Scraping, it is the automated method for extracting large amounts of data from a website, often through the use of Bots.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_scraping

One of the weapons used against Data Scraping is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a federal cybersecurity law enacted in 1986 as an amendment to existing computer fraud law (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1030) which had been included in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The CFAA prohibits accessing a computer without authorization, or in excess of authorization if any. It is designed to protect private password mainframe computers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Fraud_and_Abuse_Act

In Craigslist, Inc v. Instamotor, Inc, Craigslist claimed that Instamotor scraped Craigslist content to create listings on its own service and sent unsolicited emails to Craigslist users for promotional purposes to sell used cars. Craigslist has become very aggressive in pursuing claims against hackers based on breach of contract (terms of service TOS), violation of the CFAA, and the CAN-SPAM Act (disguised emails).

The case settled in favor of Craigslist for $31 million in a Stipulated Judgment and Permanent Injunction Aug. 3, 2017.
https://bit.ly/2HwzmJF

The next case involved a start up company named hiQ, a member of Linkedin (and subject to Linkedin’s TOS). What hiQ did was to scrape information from Linkedin user profiles and use the scraped data to create workforce data products that it sells to employers. Actually, hiQ tracks user generated changes to profiles in areas like work history and skills, and then uses the data to offer two products, one that helps companies identify employees who are at risk of being recruited away, and another product that helps companies map the skillsets of their employees.

The California U.S. District Court held that hiQ can use web scapers to collect information from PUBLIC Linkedin data. The Key factor in the Linkedin case was that hiQ could access and scrape only public data that was not protected by any authorization technique (such as password protected).  Interestingly, the Court granted a preliminary injunction to prohibit Linkedin from employing electronic blocking techniques designed to prevent hiQ from scraping information from public linkedin profiles.
https://bit.ly/2KiDbEi

Linkedin has appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. So we need to wait and see whether data scraping of public data is legal. Still, there is a change in the legal landscape with respect to Data Scraping. Website owners will need to examine how they control or limit access to content they collect from users.

Source: Webinar from https://www.ftcguardian.com/ – I am a charter member

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Copyright Data Licensing IDX (Internet Data Exchange) MLS (Multiple Listing Service) NAR

Competition in Residential Real Estate

Earlier this month the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) organized a panel discussion about the challenges and opportunities to increase competition in the real estate industry through technological innovation.

Participating in the panel were lawyers from NAR, the FTC, and the DOJ, as well as Brian Larson counsel for CMLS. The only non-lawyer in the group was Ben Clark, former broker for eRealty and noted data expert in the real estate industry. It is interesting to hear the broker’s perspective, so we will highlight some of those discussions.

Video of the 90 minute session is available here.  

One of the key points  from Ben Clark was the need for MLSs to remove any barriers to MLS participants and subscribers receiving access to relevant MLS listing data. This is based on the fact that real estate professionals have the following fiduciary duty under the NAR Code of Ethics Standard of Practice 11-1,  “When REALTORS® prepare opinions of real property value or price they must

  • be knowledgeable about the type of property being valued;
  • have access to the information and resources necessary to formulate an accurate opinion, and
  • be familiar with the area where the subject property is located UNLESS lack of any of these is disclosed to the party requesting the opinion in advance.”

You can find some of Ben Clark’s remarks at the following times of the video:

  • 5:55 to 8:08;
  • 35:40 to 39:50;
  • 46:30 to 49:42;
  • 1:03:40 to 1:06:50.
    There is also a discussion on MLS Copyright at 1:11:25 to 1:14:05, with a supplemental blog post by Mitch Skinner Click Here

Finally, for an excellent summary of the history of MLS from Brian Larson, go to the video at 27:00 to 32:30

This November marks the expiry date of  the Consent Decree in the NAR/DOJ lawsuit 10 years ago. Mark your calendar for June 5, 2018 when the FTC and DOJ will hold a relevant joint Workshop to discuss “What’s New in Residential Real Estate Brokerage Competition” – Click Here

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Data Licensing

What do free real estate forms have to do with data?

What is the value of online forms to the owners of the online form companies in real estate transactions? Plenty. John and I have been singing the song of the value of data for years now.

Forms are where the most authoritative data resides pertaining to a buyer or a seller’s progress and seriousness of buying or selling a propery. When someone buys a property, all sorts of things occur, other purchases occur.

Underlying an offer of free forms, is the question of what will the forms provider do with the data. It is a potential goldmine…but no one talks about it.

>>After vigorous debate, the board of directors of the National Association of Realtors approved a proposal Monday to provide the trade group’s 1 million-plus members transaction management software from Realtor-owned firm zipLogix at no cost to members.

NAR’s three-year agreement with zipLogix charges the trade group $10 per member for the first two years and increases the rate by no more than the increase in the federal Consumer Price Index in the third year, according to NAR CEO Dale Stinton.

The deal is estimated to cost between $11 million and $12 million per year from NAR’s reserves. NAR’s membership count stood at just under 1.17 million at the end of October.

Starting in the first quarter, agents and brokers will have free access to the firm’s zipForm Plus software, transaction forms specific to their area, document storage through zipVault, and zipLogix’ transaction management system, zipTMS (formerly known as relay).

ZipLogix is a joint venture between the National Association of Realtors and California Association of Realtors subsidiary Real Estate Business Services Inc. (REBS). As of the end of 2013, NAR owned an approximately 30 percent interest in zipLogix, carrying a value of $4 million.

The proposal was approved by a vote of 455 to 217, but not until after a spirited debate ensued among board members. Several dissenting members — though not all — were from Florida, where the state association has its own forms company, Form Simplicity.
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Data Licensing

How Is Zillow Using IDX Listing Data?

John and I have seen lots of different abuses of the MLS data over the years, in our various rolls in the Industry. Many entities receive the MLS data for specific purposes…and sometimes that mLS data is redistributed to entities that use the data, in ways not agreed to or anticipated by the owner of the data. “Gray Market” Data.

How Is Zillow Using Listing Data?

 

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Data Licensing Major Real Estate Portals

Real Estate Industry Project Upstream

upstream is a journey

Talking Point on NAR/RPR and the project known as Upstream…Upstream is Where the prospects are before they realize they are Prospects.

Scan0001 Scan0002

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Copyright Data Licensing MLS (Multiple Listing Service) Risk Management

Copyright Infringement Issues with Listing Photos

Forget about baseball being the national pastime. I think today’s pastime is surfing the web and checking the wonderful photos of real estate properties, whether they be exterior or interior shots, luxury homes, aerial views, video tours, 3D Imaging, you name it.

But who owns the photograph and what rights do they have to stop a third party from infringing on those rights? Those and related issues are the focus of several Risk Management articles prepared by the legal staff at the National Association of REALTORS®.

In a September 2015 article “Who Owns Your Property Photos?” the author points out that: “Improper use of listing photographs, however, can create legal problems for agents, brokerages and MLSs. Authorship and ownership of photographs within the real estate industry is “fractured”. Who authored the photograph and who can use what photograph and in what way varies across the industry. Listing photographs may be taken by homeowners, real estate agents, MLS or brokerage employees, or professional photographers. Photographs may be owned or licensed to different parties in a variety of ways. A misunderstanding of how you may use the photographs for property listings could make you vulnerable to a copyright lawsuit.” http://www.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/who-owns-your-property-photos

The article cites an ongoing case alleging that Zillow continued to use the listing photos in connection with “sold” properties and that this use exceeded the scope of the photographer’s limited license to use the photographs only in connection with active property listings. VHT, Inc. v. Zillow Group, Inc., No. 2:15-cv-1096 (W.D. Wash. 2015). http://www.realtor.org/sites/default/files/court-records/2015/vht-complaint-2015-09-23.pdf

As part of a Risk Management Strategy, the article recommends that you:

  1. Review photography agreements to assess how you can use the photographs
  2. Audit photographs to ensure compliance with the relevant agreements
  3. Determine how you want to use listing photographs and ensure that future agreements permit those uses
  4. Maintain a record of all photography agreements

To that end, NAR provides some Sample Photography Agreements for you to review with your attorney:

So, what happens when you display on your website listing photos provided by other brokers under IDX rules and it turns out that one of those photos is now the subject of a copyright infringement claim by the photographer? There was no way for you to know about the infringement claim. How can you protect yourself?

As suggested by NAR’s Associate Counsel Chloe Hecht in a five minute video clip “Window to the Law: Listing Photo Copyright Issues,” you can limit your liability for copyright infringement by complying with the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which provides a “safe harbor” if a third party uploads infringing content on your website. You’ll need to designate a copyright agent on your website and with the Copyright Office; implement a DMCA-compliant website policy; comply with the DMCA takedown procedure; and have no knowledge of the complained-of infringing activity.
http://www.realtor.org/videos/window-to-the-law-listing-video-copyright-issues?cid=RISVID0022

 

In short, be respectful of the photography rights of others and be clear about what rights you grant others to use your listing photographs. And, as recommended in these articles, carefully review the relevant photography agreements.

 

 

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Data Licensing Listing Syndication Major Real Estate Portals

Monetizing Syndication Conversation

Getting ready to make the case. With Walt Baczkowski.

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Data Licensing e Commerce Sales and Selling Uncategorized

New PayPal User Agreement – July 1, 2015

Do you use PayPal either as a consumer or a merchant? If so, PayPal has announced modifications to the PayPal User Agreement effective July 1, 2015 that all users must agree to as a condition to using PayPal’s services. If you don’t agree, you cannot use PayPal.

Advance word on the planned modifications has created quite a stir among not only account holders but also the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who in a June 11, 2015 letter to PayPal expressed serious concerns that “these amendments may violate federal laws governing the use of autodialed, prerecorded, and artificial voice calls, including text messages.” For details: https://s3.amazonaws.com/ftc-materials/FCC+Ltr+To+PayPal+6-11-15.pdf

There are two controversial provisions in the proposed PayPal amendments found at  https://www.paypalobjects.com/webstatic/ua/pdf/US/ints/ua.pdf

The first is a very aggressive policy with respect to users consenting to ROBO calls and text messaging – “You consent to receive autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages from PayPal at any telephone number that you have provided us or that we have otherwise obtained…(and allow us to) contact you with offers and promotions.” Currently there is no opt-out mechanism.

The FCC noted that: “If PayPal plans to make autodialed, prerecorded, or artificial voice calls or text messages to its customers, please be aware that federal law places strict limits on such communications. For more than two decades, federal lawmakers have sought to protect consumers from harassing, intrusive, and unwanted calls and text messages. The FCC recognizes that “automated or prerecorded telephone calls [are] a greater nuisance and invasion of privacy than live solicitation calls,” and that “such calls can be costly and inconvenient” for consumers. FCC regulations therefore require that before a company may make any prerecorded or artificial voice telemarketing calls to residential phones or autodialed, prerecorded or artificial voice calls or texts to wireless phones, the company must obtain the prior express written consent of the recipients.”

The FCC concluded that “PayPal ‘s amended User Agreement does not give consumers notice of their right to refuse consent to calls that require consumer consent from PayPal, its affiliates, and its service providers. If PayPal fails to include this required notice and/or fails to allow its users to refuse such consent, we are concerned that consent is in fact a condition of purchase of PayPal’s service and thus violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and could subject PayPal, its affiliates, and its service providers to penalties of up to $16,000 per call or text message.”

In light of these serious concerns of the FCC, it is possible that the proposed amendments to the User Agreement will be modified with respect to the ROBO call provisions. Users will want to carefully read the July 1 amendments to see if the FCC concerns have been addressed.

Another controversial provision in the proposed amendment covers Intellectual Property rights. Although the essence of this provision has been in existence for a long time, most users will be reading it for the first time and may be surprised with the over-broad language. For example: “When providing us with content or posting content in each case for publication, whether on-or off-line using the Services, you grant the PayPal Group a non-exclusive, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sublicensable (through multiple tiers) right to exercise any and all copyright, publicity, trademarks, database rights and intellectual property rights and intellectual property rights you have in the content…in any media known now or in the future.”

Although broad in scope, the provision is not much different from what is found in many social media forums. At the present time, it is hard to envision what type of content that users provide that can be monetized (such as in the form of derivative products). However, in the age of big data, and the fact that PayPal may be in a growth mode now that it has transitioned into a separate company from its original parent eBay, Inc, PayPal could be laying the groundwork for future uses.

Time will tell what the long term effect will be with the new mandatory amendments to the PayPal User Agreement. One thing for sure, PayPal has taken a big hit in the Public Relations arena.

 

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Data Licensing

What is Big Data?

What is Big Data?

It is certainly a term you hear frequently these days. Like a lot of buzzwords, it means different things to different people. Yet it is having a profound effect on our businesses and our personal lives. Big Data is not about the data as much as it is about the analytics – what we do with the data.

Can Big Data be explained in 2 minutes? Well, yes, according to this recent article by Bernard Marr entitled “Big Data Explained in less than 2 minutes…to Absolutely Anyone”

Bernard Marr is a globally recognized big data and analytics expert, and the author of a new book published by Wiley. Big Data – Using Smart Big Data and Metrics to Make Better Decisions and Improve Performance

From Marr’s article: “There are some things that are so big that they have implications for everyone, whether we want them to or not. Big Data is one of those concepts, and is completely transforming the way we do business and is impacting most other parts of our lives.

It’s such an important idea that everyone from your grandma to your CEO needs to have a basic understanding of what it is and why it’s important.

What is Big Data?

“Big Data” means different things to different people and there isn’t, and probably never will be, a commonly agreed upon definition out there. But the phenomenon is real and it is producing benefits in so many different areas, so it makes sense for all of us to have a working understanding of the concept.

So here’s my quick and dirty definition:

The basic idea behind the phrase ‘Big Data’ is that everything we do is increasingly leaving a digital trace (or data), which we (and others) can use and analyse. Big Data therefore refers to that data being collected and our ability to make use of it.

I don’t love the term “big data” for a lot of reasons, but it seems we’re stuck with it. It’s basically a ‘stupid’ term for a very real phenomenon – the datafication of our world and our increasing ability to analyze data in a way that was never possible before.

Of course, data collection itself isn’t new. We as humans have been collecting and storing data since as far back as 18,000 BCE. What’s new are the recent technological advances in chip and sensor technology, the Internet, cloud computing, and our ability to store and analyze data that have changed the quantity of data we can collect.

Things that have been a part of everyday life for decades — shopping, listening to music, taking pictures, talking on the phone — now happen more and more wholly or in part in the digital realm, and therefore leave a trail of data.

The other big change is in the kind of data we can analyze. It used to be that data fit neatly into tables and spreadsheets, things like sales figures and wholesale prices and the number of customers that came through the door.

Now data analysts can also look at “unstructured” data like photos, tweets, emails, voice recordings and sensor data to find patterns.

How is it being used?

As with any leap forward in innovation, the tool can be used for good or nefarious purposes. Some people are concerned about privacy, as more and more details of our lives are being recorded and analyzed by businesses, agencies, and governments every day. Those concerns are real and not to be taken lightly, and I believe that best practices, rules, and regulations will evolve alongside the technology to protect individuals.

But the benefits of big data are very real, and truly remarkable.

Most people have some idea that companies are using big data to better understand and target customers. Using big data, retailers can predict what products will sell, telecom companies can predict if and when a customer might switch carriers, and car insurance companies understand how well their customers actually drive.

It’s also used to optimize business processes. Retailers are able to optimize their stock levels based on what’s trending on social media, what people are searching for on the web, or even weather forecasts. Supply chains can be optimized so that delivery drivers use less gas and reach customers faster.

But big data goes way beyond shopping and consumerism.  Big data analytics enable us to find new cures and better understand and predict the spread of diseases. Police forces use big data tools to catch criminals and even predict criminal activity and credit card companies use big data analytics it to detect fraudulent transactions. A number of cities are even using big data analytics with the aim of turning themselves into Smart Cities, where a bus would know to wait for a delayed train and where traffic signals predict traffic volumes and operate to minimize jams.

Why is it so important?

The biggest reason big data is important to everyone is that it’s a trend that’s only going to grow.

As the tools to collect and analyze the data become less and less expensive and more and more accessible, we will develop more and more uses for it — everything from smart yoga mats to better healthcare tools and a more effective police force.

And, if you live in the modern world, it’s not something you can escape. Whether you’re all for the benefits big data can bring, or worried about Big Brother, it’s important to be aware of the phenomena and tuned in to how it’s affecting your daily life.”

 

 

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Data Licensing NAR

RPR is the Reincarnation of Geo Data

1995 – RIN (REALTORS INFORMATION NETWORK) Network Desktop (RND). A major feature was something we called “GEO DATA:…Change RIN to RPR in this slide…is the slide still descriptive?RIN-Slide-2

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