Property website Zillow backs down in row with McMansion Hell blog

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Image copyright
McMansion Hell/domain.com.au

A dispute between a blogger and a property website over photo copyright has been settled after the website backed down.

Kate Wagner runs McMansion Hell, a satirical blog in which she critiques modern architecture and interior decor by annotating images taken from US property websites.

Property platform Zillow claimed that she was infringing copyright, although it does not own the images it posts.

Ms Wagner initially shut down her blog.

Digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took on her cause after she shared the cease and desist notice she received from Zillow, which instructed her to remove all the photos she had ever used from its site.

‘Fair use’

Zillow said Ms Wagner was violating its terms which included reproducing or modifying the images it shared in its listings.

It also suggested McMansion Hell was in breach of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a criminal offence.

In a response written by lawyer Daniel Nazer, the EFF said the agreements Zillow had made with its partners did not apply to her and that her inclusion of the photos was “fair use”.

Zillow has now agreed not to take further action and Ms Wagner says she will no longer use it as an image source.

In a statement to the Architect’s Newspaper the firm said it was “never its intention” to shut down the blog, which receives some funding via crowdfunding website Patreon.

“We acted out of an abundance of caution to protect our partners – the agents and brokers who entrust us to display photos of their clients’ homes,” said a spokeswoman.



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