Real Estate Data Protection Plan Unveiled

May 16, 2013

A plan to protect online real estate data from third parties that steal the information was presented yesterday afternoon at an MLS Association Executives session during the 2013 Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.

Gregg Larson of Clareity Consulting, a real estate technology consultancy, told the crowd of hundreds of MLS and association executives about REDPLAN, which stands for Real Estate Data Protection: Legal Association Non-profit. Larson described this effort as brokers, franchises, AEs, MLS execs, and real estate technologists banding together to police the use of real estate data online and develop deterrents -- typically in the form of legal actions -- to prevent individuals and companies from taking that information and using it for their own business purposes.

In his presentation, Larson cited two telling stats from research conducted in 2012 by Clareity Consulting. The first was that 57 percent of MLS executives surveyed knew about a company or companies using their data illegally. "People are stealing our property every day," he said. "They've been stealing it for years. They don't think you're serious about protecting your data." 

The second statistic was that 80 percent of real estate brokers expect MLSs to aggressively police use of data by other companies. However, as Larson pointed out, most MLSs don't have the resources to do that. The groups taking the data and the methods they use can change frequently. And individual litigation is very time-consuming and doesn't effectively deal with the general problem.

The solution, Larson said, is for all of the aggrieved parties to join forces and "posse up." Together, these organizations could share copyright best practices, promote intellectual property rights, conduct investigations, and take legal action in the form of litigation and class-action lawsuits.

"We need to fight this problem wholesale, not retail," Larson said. "It's time to get ahead of the curve and stop being reactive." 

- Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine

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