FMLS Image Theft Notice - ListingWare Scraping Images from REW Servers

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We have had several calls today from FMLS (Atlanta) subscribers complaining that their IDX through a company called "listingware" is showing an "image theft alert" image instead of the FMLS pictures.

First off all let me say that Real Estate Webmasters has absolutely nothing to do with Listing Ware, they are for all intents and purposes a competitor.

Next let me say that Real Estate Webmasters did NOT put those images up on your IDX or your website. We do not have access to your website, nor do we have access to Listing Ware's servers.

Protecting FMLS Intellectual property (your property)

What needs to be understood is that as FMLS vendors, it is our contractual responsibility "to protect" FMLS data (both listing content and images) from misappropriation / scraping or unauthorized use. This measure is just one of many that stops your data from being stolen and used without your permission.

Our servers do not discriminate (nor could they) between malware / malicious bots attempting to steal content vs disreputable IDX vendors to lazy or not capable ofwriting their own scripts to access the information directly from the FMLS through the approved channels. Once again, no IDX vendor (not listing ware, not anyone else) has permission to scrape data from our servers and they are treated exactly like Malware by the servers - it is not selective.

One lady (Holly Berry I beleive) did not seem to understand why we would do such a thing. She seemed to insinuate that we were somehow attempting something malicious against Listing Ware. This is of course not the case. It is listing ware that stole that image, placed it on their servers and then fed it to your website - Real Estate Webmasters has absolutely nothing to do with how it got there.

In detail:

So where does that theft image come from?

That image is a standard "theft alert" image that is hosted on "our" webservers. The only way for someone to get it, is if the company they use for IDX attempts to "scrape" our servers (stealing bandwidth and intellectual property).

When our system detects a non authorized script / bot / server - attempting to access images or other content on our server - it serves an appropriate intellectual property or theft notice instead of the actual content.

Listing Ware is one of these "unauthorized" companies. Instead of writing their own script and downloading the FMLS images as they are supposed to - they tried to go to our server and steal them. They were thus served the theft image instead.

Subsequently - the uploaded those images (without even checking them) to their IDX platform, and now they are displaying those notices on every page of the IDX on your website.

I want them gone - what can I do - can you remove them?

Unfortunately Real Estate Webmasters cannot help you remove those images because they  now reside on Listings Ware's servers (which again remember, we do not have any access to and are not associated with) - so if you would like them removed, you need to "CONTACT LISTING WARE" and tell them to remove the images from their server.

Comments

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Joshua Keen

I just wanted to chime in here as an FMLS member and REW client. Morgan...I really appreciate the efforts you and REW have put forth to protect our intellectual property. It just goes to show that "you get what you pay for". I see agents using the cookie cutter version of ListingWare's service all over town and, as a former user of their service on one of my site's, I'm so glad I made the switch to a custom IDX with through REW.

Joshua Keen

Oh...by the way...if any of you Listing Ware subscribers want to chat about making the switch to REW and how I've been able to an average of 21 leads a day and over $300,000 in yearly commissions directly from my REW website -- feel free to reach out to me. I'm an open book.

Morgan Carey

Btw - did some digging on the server and here is some "proof" of them scraping our image server.

75.127.84.138 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:24 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3895060_10.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"
75.127.84.140 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:24 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3830140_3.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"
75.127.84.138 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:24 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3895060_11.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"
75.127.84.140 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:24 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3830140_4.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"
75.127.84.140 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:25 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3830140_5.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"
75.127.84.138 - - [29/May/2009:11:22:25 -0500] "GET /fmls/images/3895056_0.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 119946 "-" "ColdFusion"

75.127.84.138 goes to a page that says "ListingWare LW1MediaServer1 - No Web Sites Here"

So this is without a doubt a clear cut case of attempted scraping / theft

Ryan Ward

Oh my....I can certainly understand the embarrasment one might have if a consumer saw that on my website. That is terrible - for them. As a client of REW, I am thankful that you protect the data this way. Thank you. You do get what you pay for. My IDX is near the core of my business and would never trust it to a lesser vendor.

OCTeam

REW.. I'll second what JK stated.... thanks for protecting your clients. Too many agents look at initial cost instead of ROI or what they are really getting. This incident is just another example of the proof that REW-custom IDX rocks!

Morgan Carey

Update - it looks as though listingware has updated their FMLS photos (hopefully they did not just scrape them from someone else) - one would hope they have learned thier lesson and will not attempt to steal bandwidth / resources or intellectual property from other people's servers in the future.

Portland Real Estate

As another happy REW client I think that is pretty funny, however, if I were a client of Listingware I would be outraged. This is another great example of why we entrust our IDX solution to Real Estate Webmasters.

thataway61

I have had a listingware solution for fmls for a number of years. It has been a good IDX solution for the most part. It is mind boggling that they would do something like that. I look forward to keeping up with this. Why in the world would they suddenly decide to start doing this? Hopefully someone from listingware will step up and explain what occured and that the responsible party has been dealt with appropriately.

pilotnbr1

I dont know why listingware would scrape content since they are an approved fmls idx vendor... They get the feed straight from the source why would they go to the trouble of writing a scraping script and then apply it.

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