Unless you were hiding under a rock today or happened to be vacationing in an exotic location with no access to US media (P.S. I’m green with envy if you were in that second category) you have by now at least heard of SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and her equally frightening sister PIPA (Protect IP Act of 2011). If you haven’t heard of it, here is a good summation from Mashable on why there is SIGNIFICANT cause for concern. Concern enough that many popular websites such as Google, Wikipedia, WordPress and others went dark (or partially dark) today to demonstrate what the internet experience could be like without much of the valuable information we are able to openly share today. I found this post from AgentKnowHow.com to have some good insight into what could happen specific to real estate if either of these measures were to pass.
It’s true that piracy is bad. So bad in fact that it is already a crime to do so with many options for individuals and corporations to protect copyrighted material and other intellectual property. This issue got me thinking about the hundreds of times I’ve heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, this is especially true if the cure is far worse than the illness. With that in mind, here are a few quick thoughts on what real estate related organizations (or really any organizations) should do to protect their intellectual property:
2) Make sure you copyright your content or other bodies of work and that you understand the requirements for doing so. My friend Brian Larson and the other good people at Larson/Sobotka, PLLC have provided some great articles on understanding copyright as it relates to MLS organizations and brokers.
3) Use best practices to protect your content. These best practices can be making sure that any policies you have are monitored and enforced. For example if your content is password protected but you never monitor user usage and behavior or require them to change their password, you are NOT using best practices.
Let’s hope the Internet can remain the vital and useful tool that supports so much of our business today. I’m confident by enforcing existing laws and using some best practices we can all get back to enjoying, and when appropriate, sharing the many contributions that are created on the web.
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