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Galperin Misses Target on MLS

January 04, 1994

* Ron Galperin's Dec. 7 article regarding the recent legal battles over access to a Multiple Listing Service missed the target on the protection afforded by copyright law and why Realtors seek to protect the confidentiality of the MLS.

The fact that "thousands of MLS books are discarded" does not mean that one is free to reproduce such copyrighted materials. No one at the L. A. Times would suggest that the Daily News is free to copy The Times the moment a reader discards his daily newspaper. Obviously, Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy, John Grisham or any other popular paperback novelist does not lose copyright protection when his/her paperback is found in a trash can. It is the same with MLS books.

The MLS is created by its members, who spend a great deal of time and effort creating the legal relationships that are thereafter listed in the MLS. These MLS members work on behalf of their sellers, many of whom have been harassed with a barrage of telephone solicitations and junk mail immediately after listing their home for sale.

It is no mystery why the MLS is copyrighted or why its confidentially receives legal protection. District Judge Mariana Pfaelzer said it best over 10 years ago in her important decision on MLS access:

"It cannot be doubted that one of the principal benefits to the public of the MLS is the opportunity it provides sellers to publicize the availability of properties for sale while compromising their privacy and security only to the extent necessary to permit approaches by bona fide prospective buyers through licensed professionals."

Doesn't it say something about a moving company that can only get its business leads by rummaging through garbage cans so that it can pilfer information created by others? Who would want to entrust their valuable personal possessions to such people? That is why the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors took action.


Stanard, of Walleck, Shane, Stanard & Blender of Woodland Hills, is counsel for the San Fernando Valley Assn. of Realtors Inc.

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