The Supreme Court made a significant ruling today that says the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections. It is a great victory for the National Association of REALTORS’ lobby group. They can spend as much as they want now.
The case brought to the court was a residual of the McCain-Feingold Law that banned the broadcast, cable, or satellite transmission of ‘electioneering communications’ paid for by corporate or labor unions from their general funds in the 30 days before a presidential primary and in the 60 days before the general elections. The Supremes ruled that it is a company’s First Amendment Freedom of Speech to support candidates.
In a rather interesting detail, Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion also said that there was ‘no principled way to distinguish between media corporations and other corporations.’ I would assert by extension that this is the detail that would crush the determination by NAR that ‘indexing property listings by search engines’ is acceptable. Arguably, there is no principled way to distinguish between search engines and other corporations. In my opinion, Trulia, Zillow, and Yahoo are all search engines.
Furthermore – there is no principled way to distinguish between indexing and scraping either.
Given this appreciation or opinion. I believe that anyone can index real estate listings from websites today. I believe that the brokers’ copyright of listings has been seriously invaded, and I believe that NAR can simply scrape any data they want from public websites to power the RPR. I am not a lawyer – this is just a conspiracy theory. It would be great if a real lawyer would issue an opinion. Perhaps the courts will need to decide.