Baileyana Rose


Real Estate Photography Copyright & Licensing 101

Understanding Real Estate Photography Copyright & Licensing is a common topic in the industry, so we are here to make it simple! We get it – reading the fine print before agreeing and proceeding to schedule is a rarity, but it actually is important for you to understand what you’re agreeing to so you don’t get stuck down the road. While we can’t speak for other photographers or videographers, Home Visions Media’s copyright and licensing terms are modeled after industry practices. Let’s jump in!

Copyright & Licensing refers to the agreed terms between the client and your photographer. Many agents believe that because they paid for the shoot, they own the photos and can use them however and whenever they want. This is 100% wrong. When Home Visions Media structured its pricing model for Residential Real Estate, we priced based on the cost of use while the agent is representing the property. This means a few things:

  1. The agent was granted permission to use the photos to market the property through digital and print (mailers, social media posts, email marketing)
  2. The agent was not granted permission to use the photos after the sale/rental of the property
  3. The agent was not granted permission to use the photos to market themselves and services outside of advertising and marketing the property
  4. The agent is never granted permission to transfer ownership of the media to another agent that is representing the property

Our Residential Real Estate Photography Copyright Agreement:

“[Client], who purchased a license for these photos, is hereby authorized to a worldwide, limited, fully-paid license to use said photography for the purposes of marketing [FullAddress] for as long as [Client] represents the property. [Client] is also authorized to include said photography in mailers, listing presentations, and property brochures of [FullAddress]. Additionally, [Client] is authorized to include said photography in digital and print marketing to advertise their representation of [FullAddress] in just sold, monthly, half year, and annual recaps. Photos used for any purpose not strictly related to their representation of [FullAddress] through mailers, listing presentations, and property brochures requires direct permission from the [TeamMember]. Terms and necessary fees will be assessed and agreed to in writing.

[Client] is not authorized to include said photography in personal branding outside of marketing their representation of [FullAddress]. The license does not grant or constitute a transfer of ownership for any intellectual property rights, which are all explicitly held by [TeamMember].

For Commercial Clients that have a pre-existing contract, please disregard this message.”

Why it Matters

Pricing models for photographers price around intended use, the skill required, the equipment needed, and the list goes on. The intended use is one of the most important considerations when pricing Real Estate Photography services. What you as the agent are paying for is the right to use the media to market your property. Marketing the property is very different than marketing yourself, your brand, and anything not directly related to the property listed.

Example: you have beautiful photos taken of a staged home that you want to market on social media. You are allowed to post the listing on social media, advertise open houses, and direct people to get in contact with you to tour the property. You’re not granted permission to share the photos and talk about how great you are because you hire a stager. You are breaking the copyright agreement if you post a photo because it’s a pretty picture. Unless your copyright and licensing agreement states this or you have explicit written permission, tagging the photographer/business does not mean you are following the agreement. While tagging is encouraged and appreciated, you are still violating the agreement and are liable.

What You Should Do

If you don’t want to read the copyright and licensing agreement, double check with your photographer. We have heard that “the box company we’ve been using doesn’t care if we use the photos after listing the property,” or that “I should get to do whatever I want with the media because I paid a lot for them.” Be very careful with that assumption, because not getting called out on violating doesn’t mean you’re not doing it. If you’d like to use the media to market yourself after the representation agreement for your property ends, talk with your photographer. Home Visions Media offers very flexible pricing for using media for personal promotion.

Common Copyright & Licensing Options

Now that you understand what copyright and licensing is, let’s discuss some of the common options for licensing uses:

  • Digital only – no print materials (magazines, books, newspapers, mailers)
  • Print only – no digital use (social media like IG, FB, LinkedIn, TikTok)
  • Unlimited use – both digital and print (socials, mailers, newspapers, magazines, email marketing)

What Happens if You Violate Your Copyright & Licensing Agreement

While we have no way to check if 100% of our agreements have been honored, violating them can result in a back pay for the usage of the media. We don’t want this to happen to you! Just like you’d have issue with a seller signing with you and using your knowledge, resources that may even cost you money, and hours of time spent with them just for them to cancel on you and say they’ll sell on their own, we as photographers have to enforce the guidelines we set.

Key Takeaways

  • Book your shoot as normal
  • Double check with your photographer if you have any questions or want clarification
  • Don’t justify violating your agreement with anyone on the basis that you haven’t gotten caught yet

Check out our website, and book your shoot today!

real estate photography copyright & licensing

December 19, 2022

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