A “conundrum” is an intricate and difficult problem. A “copyright” is an intangible intellectual property right. It is a creature of Federal Law under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. §101, et seq.). In the Spring of 2012, our Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service became aware that a website operator under the name of “NeighborCity.com” was publishing information taken from the HGMLS database and also providing agent scores and performance metrics based upon the individual transaction histories for each salesperson. HGMLS sent a cease and desist letter to NeighborCity. Two other MLSs similarly affected brought suit against NeighborCity and its parent company, American Home Realty Network, Inc., a licensed real estate broker located in California. These two MLSs were the St. Paul, Minnesota based regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. (NorthStar MLS) and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. (MRIS), the largest multiple listing service in the U.S. which services over 40,000 real estate licensees in the Mid-Atlantic region including Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and parts of Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. The litigation commenced by the two MLSs against American Home Realty Network, Inc. were in part, funded by
the National Association of Realtors.
MLS Granted Injunction
On August 27, 2012, MRIS was granted a preliminary injunction against American Home Realty Network, Inc. and NeighborCity enjoining NeighborCity “from unauthorized copying, reproduction, public display or public distribution of copyrighted content from the MRIS database, and from preparing derivative works based upon the copyrighted content from the MRIS database.” In the same decision by the Court, Jonathan Cardella, NeighborCity’s Chief Executive Officer, was removed as a co-defendant in the suit. NeighborCity is also engaged in a lawsuit with Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America which was brought by the insurance company in May of 2012. Travelers is denying any duty to pay for NeighborCity’s defense against the MLS copyright suits. That matter is pending, as is a final determination regarding the preliminary injunction granted to MRIS. A full hearing on the MRIS injunction matter against NeighborCity.com will not be heard until sometime in 2013.
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