Intellectual Property Theft and Real Estate Agents - Do Not Be Stupid
Posted by Benjamin Dona on Saturday, October 17th, 2009 at 5:10pm.
The internet is a remarkable tool for real estate agents to use in their daily business life. The multitude of website providers and the information available to be used as website content is almost limitless. However, with such use also comes a fair amount of responsibility and accountability on your part as a professional. Flying by the seat of your pants and not taking these two things seriously are the stupidest things you can possibly do as an agent/webmaster.
Take this case as an example - The Pros Advantage. Seems the agent hired a firm to design a new website and they literally copied the design and code from a very well known and respected real estate website provider, Real Estate Webmasters (REW). They even left REW's copyright code right in the agent's new knockoff website design. How completely stupid and unprofessional is that?
This is the type of thing that can get you into a world of hurt, both from a legal standpoint and from a reputation management perspective. As the owner of a website, you're responsible for its content from the get go. Using the defense that you did not know or were unaware is no excuse. If you want to play on the internet, you have to play by the rules or suffer the consequences. Anyone with half a brain should know that you must do your homework in order to be educated about what it is you are doing in your business life. Having a website and using the internet demands such an effort on your part and trusting it to someone else without your oversight is one of the worst paths you should ever consider taking.
While I do not know anything about the business practices of The Pros Advantage as a website provider, I can easily see from the screenshots that what they have done is not on the up and up. The web is full of companies who cut corners and do things that are unseemly and this case appears to be one of them IMHO.
So, to all you agents out there that are thinking about using the internet as a marketing tool, be aware of your responsibilities and take them seriously. Do your due diligence first, otherwise, you could be setting yourself up for more headaches than you could ever imagine.
Update: It looks like the agent in this case took the offending site down.
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About the Author
Benjamin Dona is the Broker and Owner of Gulf Coast Associates, Realtors in Bonita Springs, Florida. He holds two advanced degrees, an MBA and an MA, and has an extensive background in both business and marketing. In 1998, he founded Gulf Coast Associates, and formed a group of like-minded Realtor® associates dedicated to offering professional Southwest Florida real estate services by concentrating on information, education and the use of leading edge technologies. He also is a recognized expert on the "Net," a much-quoted and read blog author, and a contributor to both national and international news outlets. Benjamin is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the Florida Association of Realtors, and numerous local real estate boards throughout Southwest Florida.
Contact Benjamin Dona at 239-948-3955
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