Property listing copyright belong to agents

On March 9, the High Court dismissed property listings portal PropertyGuru’s (PG) case against rival 99.co, in which PG had accused 99.co of infringing its copyright. The case centred around photos uploaded by property agents onto PG’s website and edited to bear PG’s watermark, which were transferred to 99.co’s website through a third-party service.
“The copying, enlargement or resizing of an artistic work, such as a drawing, painting or photograph, does not make the resulting image a copyrighted work,” says Justice Hoo Sheau Peng in her judgement. “The addition of the watermark does not, in my judgment make the altered image an original work,” she adds.
This means that agents own the copyright to the photos and information in their listings and are therefore free to cross-post listings on any portal.
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However, Hoo ruled that 99.co had breached a 2015 settlement agreement with PG, by “substantially reproducing” a listing from PG’s website. Under the agreement, 99.co cannot substantially reproduce content from its website without PG’s approval.
Hoo granted an injunction to stop 99.co from continuing to breach the agreement by using the third-party service. 99.co has been given 30 days to stop using the service and PG has been given the right to assess damages resulting from the breach of agreement.