Zillow Loses $8.3 Million Federal Copyright Lawsuit

Real estate company Zillow was ordered this past Friday to pay out $8.3 million in a federal copyright lawsuit.

In July 2015, photography and image service provider VHT filed a suit claiming Zillow’s home improvement advice site, Zillow Digs, had violated part of its copyright.

After what was sure to be six long months of legal back-and-forth, the court hearing took place on January 23, 2017. Upon hearing both sides of the argument, Judge James Robart ruled in favor of VHT. In the Seattle United States District Court, VHT received $79,875 in actual damages and the remaining $8.24 million in statutory damages.

The trial began on Jan. 23 and ended with VHT being awarded $79,875 in actual damages and $8.24 million in statutory damages. In a comment to Geekwire, Zillow shared its thoughts on the case.

The Zillow spokesperson said: “We have persistently maintained our belief that this suit was without merit. While we are pleased that the majority of original claims were dismissed in this case, we regret that the jury did not find for us completely on those that remained, and will vigorously pursue all options to overturn their verdict. We take copyright protection and enforcement seriously and will continue to respect copyright permissions across our platforms.”

Copyright lawsuits like this may see online real estate companies like Zillow and Redfin reconsider who they’re using for photography. It also may make them move these services to an in-house person moving forward to help avoid situations like this one.


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