Are Real Estate Photos Copyrighted?

Michael • January 16, 2023 • 4 min read

Are real estate photos copyrighted

If you’re involved in the real estate industry, you’ve probably noticed that good photography is an essential part of marketing a property. But have you ever stopped to think about who owns the copyright to those photos?

Both real estate agents and photographers need to know about copyright because it can have important legal and financial effects. Here’s what you need to know.


Who Owns the Copyright to Real Estate Photos?

with any photograph, the copyright to real estate photos belongs to the person who took the photo – in other words, the photographer. This means that the photographer has the exclusive right to control how the photos are used and to be compensated for their use.

But the copyright can also depend on the terms of the contract between the photographer and the client. For example, if the photographer is hired to take photos for a real estate agent or broker, the client may expect to have full ownership of the photos.

In this case, it’s important to have a clear and written agreement in place that outlines the terms of copyright ownership.

In addition, it’s important to consider model releases for photos that include people on the property. If a model release hasn’t been signed, the person in the photo might be able to say they don’t want the photo to be used or ask to be paid for it.

The Importance of Understanding Copyright in Real Estate Photography

Copyright is important for both real estate agents and photographers to understand because using photos that are protected by copyright without permission can lead to serious legal problems.

In the United States, copyright law allows the owner of the copyright to sue for damages and seek an injunction to stop the unauthorized use of their work.

The damages that can be awarded in a copyright infringement case can be significant, so it’s important to ensure that you have the necessary permission to use any photos that you didn’t take yourself.

As a photographer, protecting your work is also important. By knowing your rights as the owner of the copyright, you can make sure that you are paid fairly for the use of your photos and that they are not used without your permission. 

Interested in more about payments? Check who pays for Real Estate Photography here!

How to Obtain Permission to Use Real Estate Photos

If you’re a real estate agent or broker and you want to use a photo that you didn’t take yourself, it’s important to seek permission from the copyright owner.

Most of the time, this means getting in touch with the photographer and talking about getting a license or permission to use the photo.

The terms of the license or permission will depend on the specific agreement between the parties, and it’s important to have a written agreement in place to avoid any misunderstandings.

The Role of Real Estate Agents and Brokers in Copyright Management

As a real estate agent or broker, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you have the necessary permissions to use any photos that you didn’t take yourself.

This includes both photos of the property and any photos that include people on the property. If you don’t get the right permissions, you could get in trouble with the law, so it’s important to be careful about copyright issues.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the MLS photo rules?

The MLS (Multiple Listing Service) has specific rules when it comes to the photos that can be used to list a property. These rules are different depending on where you live, but they usually have rules about photo size, resolution, and the number of photos that can be used per listing.

It’s important to check with your local MLS for the specific rules in your area.

Are there any laws in real estate photography?

Yeah, there are a few laws to be aware of when it comes to real estate photography. For example, the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to treat people differently based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, family status, or disability when selling or renting housing.

This means that photographers must be careful to avoid any images that could be seen as discriminatory. Additionally, there are laws surrounding the use of drones for real estate photography, so it’s important to check with your local authorities before using one.

Can a real estate agent use old photos to sell a house?

It’s not recommended to use old photos to sell a house, as they can be misleading to potential buyers and can create false expectations about the property. It’s always best to use current, accurate photos to give potential buyers a clear idea of what the property looks like.

How do I know if a real estate photo is copyrighted?

If you’re not the photographer and you haven’t obtained permission to use a photo, it’s copyrighted. So, the best practice is to get permission to use the photo or take your own.

You can also check the metadata of an image or the photographer’s website or social media account to see if they have explicitly stated that the photo is copyrighted.


Understanding copyright is important for anyone involved in the real estate industry, whether you’re a photographer, a real estate agent, or a broker. By obtaining the necessary permissions or licenses to use photos that you didn’t take yourself, you can avoid potential legal problems and protect your own work.

So next time you’re using photos to market a property, make sure you understand who owns the copyright and how to obtain permission to use the photos.

Further readings:
5 Things Photographers Can Do to Protect Their Images Online
How to find images for your project without stealing
Law and Etiquette for Using Photos and Images Found Online

What do you think, are Real Estate Photos Copyrighted? Let us know in the comments.

By Furoore team member Michael
Furoore Team is here to assist you in capturing the most significant moments in your life. To create exciting photographs, discover photography guides, find unique photo ideas, and limitless image inspiration.


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