Zillow Should Pay $1.9M to Real Estate Photography Studio for Infringing 'Thousands' of Images

June 8, 2023
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has offered its second opinion on a case brought by photography studio VHT against Zillow that recommends the portal should pay nearly $2M in damages for copyright infringement for misuse of over 2,000 images.

In a case dating back to 2015, Zillow was found to have violated real estate photography company VHT's copyright when the portal used 2,700 of VHT's images on a home improvement section of Zillow's website.

Interestingly, the courts have ruled in favour of both parties during the back-and-forth lawsuit: in favour of Zillow because VHT did not present substantial evidence that Zillow wilfully infringed the copyright—however, in favour of VHT because Zillow failed to demonstrate a 'transformative' fair use of the images.

Both parties have appealed the decisions made in the previous judgement summary, meaning the lawsuit has stretched into its eighth year, with the Court of Appeals once again getting involved.

And a filing made on 7th June has now reaffirmed the court's ruling that the images should be treated as individual infringements and not as a compilation, meaning they each hold independent economic value, and that Zillow should pay the previously awarded $1.9M in damages to VHT.

June 8, 2023
Harvey is an experienced property journalist and copywriter. He has written about the property industry since 2015, starting at The Property Franchise Group in the UK, before moving to Spain to work for Spotahome. He has blogged for the private rented sector, ghostwritten for UK property experts and written case studies for franchise owners around the UK. Harvey joined Online Marketplaces as a News Editor in 2022.

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