There is a work group that recommends changes to NAR’s MLS Policy Committee on changes to the policy. This work group recently submitted suggested changes
that, if adopted, would enable RSS and other electronic means of syndicating listings to third parties.
Brokers and MLSs alike are very concerned about the potential infringements on the copyrights of brokers and MLSs, and the potential for law suits from home sellers.
Broker participants are legally liable for the listing content as outlined in the listing contract with the seller. The broker takes on the legal responsibility for the listing through the contact. Moreover, the convents of the relationship between the broker and the MLS impart the mutual responsibility of each party to manage the custody of the listing to preserve the rights of the seller and the representing broker. Furthermore, the broker also legally perfects their copyright ownership of the listing content when putting it into the MLS, and the MLS has copyright over the compilation of participant listing.
The seller acknowledges that the copyrighted listing contnet will be shared by the broker with other broker participants in the MLS in ways that protect the seller. The broker is legally responsible for the accuracy of the listing. Unless otherwise indicated, the seller also consents to allow the broker to accurately advertise the listing for sale on the internet through IDX. IDX has specific rules that indicate that other participating brokers may display the listing for sale on their website (and in many markets, the website of an agent). IDX restricts the listing display of another broker’s listing to the website of another MLS participating broker. There are rules and regulations that exclude marketing any listing that is not active.
Some brokers may also advertise their own listings (not listings of other brokers) by sending that listing to other websites. The broker enters into an agreement to do this that is in line with the listing agreement. The broker only advertises the listing during the term of the listing contract with the seller, and ceases all advertising activity when the listing changes status from active to any other status.
Currently, listing syndication is only performed when brokers opt in, and only to places that the broker directs. Think “Approved by the broker who has a listing contract with a seller.”
This new recommendation allows for RSS syndication from IDX. Think “allows anyone to obtain all data in an mls area with no permission required” and “another broker who does not have a contract with the seller is broadly publishing another broker’s content with no limitations.” This creates a condition where the legally responsible broker is no longer in compliance with their contract with the seller or the MLS. Furthermore, the MLS may also be in violation of their contract with the broker if this recommendation is approved.
RSS, and other electronic means of syndication allows any third party to obtain the broker’s listing content without permission from the procuring broker, and with no guarantee from the third party that they will conform to the rules and conditions of IDX. Once the data is distributed through RSS or other electronic means, the data has been given away to the public, with no strings attached. Any entity who obtains the RSS feed may do whatever they want with the data. If adopted, this rule would allow any broker participant to publish an RSS, XML, or RETS feed to the public.