Legal battle over websites and MLS data

Posted by Techvibes NewsDesk

If you've been hiding underneath a rock then you didn't know that Canada has been experiencing a real estate boom since 2000.  As a result, many real estate companies and services have popped up.  Google's Street View is one such service that allows you to see various cities as if you were walking the streets.  Companies promising to make searching for your next home easier have also come onto the scene.  Two in Toronto come to mind: Homezilla and Zoocasa.

Zoocasa was recently in the news as being sued by Century 21.  The case has yet to be taken to court.  However, it involves property listings that the real estate company says they own and that Zoocasa has basically stolen this information.

Well there is a case that has been before the courts.  And the judgment is in.  Toronto Realtor, Fraser Beach was suing the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) for wrongful termination.  Beach claimed that TREB kicked him off of the popular MLS (Multiple Listing Service) system after he had launched a discount brokerage in partnership with a Bell Canada subsidiary.  He further claimed that TREB decision was anti-competitive.

Justice David Brown has dismissed the case against TREB.  In his decision, Justice Brown found Beach violated TREB rules by downloading large blocks of information off of MLS to put on his own website. As a result he ruled that TREB was justified in cutting off Beach without warning.

However, Justice Brown did not rule on the question of anti-competitiveness.  "The issue of whether TREB's rules and policies regarding its members' use of the MLS database conformed to, or infringed Canadian Competition law was not for me to decide in this proceeding. My decision must be read with those limitations in mind," he wrote in his judgment.

TREB CEO Don Richardson said Monday that they are pleased with the ruling “and feels the integrity of the MLS and the rights of sellers, consumers and brokers have been protected.”

The Competition Bureau recently determined that CREA's rules are anti-competitive and has asked that CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) change a number of it's policies to reflect the Bureau's stance.

"Justice Brown's decision has squarely placed the issue at the feet of the Competition Bureau,” said Beach's lawyer Lawrence Dale. “In the United States, the government found that these identical rules were anti-competitive and the Department of Justice had them removed.”

How this will impact future court proceedings is yet to be determined.  This much is apparent.  Technology's impact on openness and collaboration on various industries is being felt.  And it is in the best interests of CREA, TREB, the real estate industry and interested observers to adapt and change to meet the demands of the marketplace.  The sooner the better.

Company:
Bell Canada
Website:
http://www.bell.ca
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Bell is Canada's largest communications company, providing the most comprehensive and innovative suite of communication services to residential and business customers in Canada. Operating under the Bell brand, the Company's services include Bell Home Phone local and long distance services, Bell Mobility and Solo Mobile wireless, high-speed Bell Internet, Bell TV direct-to-home satellite and VDSL television,... more

Company:
Google
Website:
http://www.google.com
Location:
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. As a first step to fulfilling that mission, Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developed a new approach to online search that took root in a Stanford University dorm room and quickly spread to information seekers around the globe. Google is now widely recognized as the world's largest search engine --... more

Company:
HomeZilla
Website:
http://www.homezilla.ca
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Quick answer, HomeZilla is a one-stop shop for neighourhood information for Canadian home buyers. We offer lists of schools, the distance to restaurants, parks and much more. It can be accessed for free and with just a single click. Longer answer, HomeZilla's main goal is make it faster for home buyers in Canada to choose a place to live. We aggregate tons of data so home buyers can have a one-stop shop for all... more

Company:
Zoocasa
Website:
http://www.zoocasa.com
Location:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Our goal in creating Zoocasa is to give all people searching for a home in Canada the ability to easily find homes for sale based on the things they value the most. We think we are on our way to doing that! After talking with lots of home buyers the one request we kept hearing over and over was make searching for a home online easier, faster and more fun. So that's where we put our effort. Zoocasa is the best... more


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Techvibes NewsDesk

Techvibes NewsDesk

Techvibes is Canada's leading technology media property. Originally founded in 2002, Techvibes is dedicated to covering social, mobile, and startup news that impacts Canadians. Our editors and nationwide network of reporters combine breaking hyperlocal news with international coverage to deliver a unique balance of insight and information. The Techvibes Newsdesk covers a broad beat and... more



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