Homeowners do NOT own the floor plans of their home, therefore if a Homeowner chooses to post them via any media, whether printed magazines and newspapers, or online to such sites as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Zillow or myriad of real estate and Realtor websites, they are putting themselves in a position to be sued for legal damages by the architect or builder who created or owns the design. This also includes For Sale By Owner Sellers, those using a Flat Fee MLS Listing Service or a Traditional Real Estate Company. This ruling set forth by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in August of 2021, determined anyone who replicates images of floor plan reproductions, of an otherwise constructed building, may be found liable for copyright infringement as architectural copyrights.
Homeowners utilize floor plans when making home buying decisions, facilitating upgrades, and are required to submit floor plans to obtain permits for renovations. Such renderings are also utilized when obtaining financing in which the appraisal requires a floor plan, and Real Estate professionals use floor plans when marketing a home as well as to ensure accuracy and transparency of the image portrayed to the public.
Actual plans have always had copyright protection, however in 1990 the Copy Right Act added the protection of architectural structures. It was understood that protection did not extend to floor plans, drawings of a constructed building used to market and sell the building. Section 120 specifically states, “The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.”
This understanding was upended in 2021, when the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the case between Designworks Homes, Inc. and Columbia House of Brokers Realty, Inc. The court ruling concluded the language in Section 120 indicated “pictorial representations” were meant to cover only those representations that were similar to paintings or photographs and not more technical representations.
On April 07, 2022 the National Association of Realtors filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court inferring this ruling misrepresents Federal law by allowing copyright lawsuits to be filed against Appraisers, Homeowners, Real Estate Professionals and more.
Unless one has the written permission of the Architect or Builder who owns the architectural renderings, one should refrain from using floor plans in any advertising or marketing of a property even if they had been used previously. If the supreme court rules there is liability for creating drawings of existing structures, the use of floor plans without the appropriate written permission would allow for copyright infringement lawsuits against Homeowners, Real Estate Professionals, Brokerage firms and more exceeding $100,000 PLUS legal expenses per occurrence.
Selling your home on your own without the assistance of a Traditional Real Estate Service will require both commitment and due diligence for which you may be rewarded by saving thousands of dollars in commissions. Maximizing marketing exposure is key. I have been in this industry for 4 decades, have SOLD well over a BILLION DOLLARS in Real Estate & Saved Sellers Millions of Dollars in Real Estate commissions. Please view the following links to view videos and learn more about how we can save you thousands of dollars in real estate commissions: For Sale By Owner Ohio Flat Fee MLS Listing options at Ohio Broker Direct will enhance your marketing exposure to ensure a more expeditious sale, yielding a higher price with better terms that suit your specific needs. Reach out to us directly, visit our blog page, or sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest information to ensure you have the knowledge to maximize your profit. We look forward to the opportunity to earn your business.
Joan Elflein, Brokers / Ohio Broker Direct
Ohio Broker Direct & its Brokers or Associates assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or omissions in this blog, we advise all participants engaged in the buying or selling of Real Estate to enlist the services of a Real Estate Attorney.