I am sure you all are aware of the opposition against SOPA & PIPA.  In case you think this is a trivial thing not likely to affect you, just know that I have had to fight several attempts from local realtors to shut down this site due to their dislike of comments made by you, the readers, about listings we have featured.  This was under the current rules of the DMCA.  These new rules will make it easier for people to abuse piracy laws to censor those they disagree with as the burden of defense is often higher than just taking down the content or self-censoring yourself to begin with.

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5 thoughts on “Stop SOPA & PIPA”

  1. dang… I never would have guessed realtors could be such douchebags… actually…

    It might be a bad idea to post them for a few reasons, but I’d be interested to see what realtors tried to use that tactic so I can avoid them if/when I’m in the market for one.

    1. I won’t name names. It has always been a realtor who I don’t know and who ‘happens’ upon a modern listing rather than the realtors who regularly deal with modern homes. I view them as the part-time, opportunist realtors rather than the professionals.

      The basic tactic is to file a DMCA complaint with my hosting company saying that I am stealing their copyright material. Some hosting companies are better than others about this process. Mine happens to be pretty good.

      The problem with their argument and why I’ve won in the past is that I link to publicly published materials. I am not trying to pass their materials off as my own nor I am profiting off their materials. There is a fundamental right to commentary on publicly available materials. At least currently in this country.

      Realtors operate under a code within their organization that restricts their ability to publicly comment on other realtors listings. Some don’t understand that the rules that they voluntarily put themselves under do not apply to the public at large.

      For me it is mostly an annoyance because it happens rarely. The DMCA provides a fairly reasonable due process for handling these issues. A couple of days of emails, phone calls, and hatred occur and then it passes. It does make me question why I bother though. This is an effectively free advertising venue with thousands of potential buyers who look the site each month. If the burden was just a bit more, say I had to deal with it every 3-6 months rather than every year or so, I’d probably just through in the towel or move to a paid or permissions based listing only where the realtor had to sign off on a terms of service. The later would mean a dramatic decrease in the volume of posts.

      The other issue I’ve had is people who want their listings on the site but have asked for specific comments to be removed. While I tend to agree that some of the comments or discussions are not always fair or in right, I won’t moderate unless the comment is a personal attack. So far, we haven’t seen any of that. Most the arguments are over stupid stuff like whether a house is over-priced or not. From the realtor point of view though, this matters and is someone’s livelihood. In these cases, I tend offer a choice: I can remove the post completely and most likely not list their stuff in the future or I can leave it up.

      1. I agree. I haven’t dealt with DMCA notices, although it seems like the majority of the time you hear about them in the news/blogs, it’s an example of someone or some company abusing it.

        Like you say, it’s good advertising, and if anything I would imagine anyone who reads this blog is more likely to appreciate the property and maybe even be willing to pay more for it.

        Anyway, thanks for taking over the blog, I’m glad it didn’t go away.

        1. By nature you won’t hear about the proper use of DMCA. In the early days of DMCA, it was much worse because most hosting companies didn’t have processes to deal with DMCA notices so they just erred on the side of taking everything down. Today, most are much better.

          While the DMCA had some opposition at the time, I actually think it struck a pretty reasonable balance. SOPA & PIPA go too far. There is irony that our State Department provides money and know-how to people to help circumvent the same style of filtering that Congress trying to implement.

          I am a content creator and I work in software so I know the challenges faced by unauthorized use of intellectual property theft. These laws are not the solution.

  2. I agree that we ought to be move forward with caution and protect the free flow of ideas and commentary. I am so appreciative that this site remains up and running. I don’t comment very often but visit everyday- it is my favorite page. Thanks!

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