While realestate.com.au and domain.com.au cover a good deal of the Australian market, allhomes.com.au has managed to carve out its own space by focusing on Canberra, the capital city.
Now it appears allhomes.com.au is expanding into other Australian states, and that scraping – taking content from other real estate websites and positing it on its own – is part of its strategy.
Along with listings for Canberra and New South Wales, sections for Tasmania have now been added to allhomes.com.au for sale, rental, and share properties.
The director of allhomes.com.au has told smh.com.au that the portal has been scraping other real estate websites, but said this was part of a “free trial.”
According to smh.com.au, one of the websites that has been scraped is the Real Estate Institute of Victoria’s realestateview.com.au.
“It is not immediately apparent how we can stop this,” REIV communications manager Robert Larocca told the website. “We’re just not yet sure how agents can protect their online intellectual property.”
Intellectual property lawyer Steve Wright told smartcompany.com.au that allhomes.com.au’s actions may not amount to copyright infringement:
“If this is purely factual material that is being taken down, then allhomes.com.au could have an argument. If you just take the address of a place for sale, it’s difficult to see how that would involve breach of copyright.
Of course, if they take pictures, copy and so on, then that could subsist of copyright theft. Things like a snappy headline, etc, would be included in that, because that is what the agent has written. But if it’s simply ‘this home has two bathrooms, two bedrooms and is up for sale’, then under the current law there is certainly an argument to do so.”
In July last year, a similar situation arose in the UK, when home.co.uk was accused of mis-marketing scraped properties.
At that time, UK lawyer Keith Arrowsmith said the legalities of scraping are a work in progress, but that he believed agents wanting to legally pursue websites for marketing their properties against their wishes may do so on the grounds of an infringement of their trademark.