Century 21 Canada has won a lawsuit stopping online real estate information provider Zoocasa Inc., a Rogers subsidiary, from using its data.
The real estate company sued Zoocasa, accusing it of “scraping” information off the Century 21 site and posting it on Zoocasa’s own site. Century 21 had tried to link the British Columbia Supreme Court case to Rogers but was unsuccessful and only won damages of $1,000.
“What we wanted all along was to prevent Zoocasa and others like them from scraping data from others websites,” says Don Lawby, chief executive of Century 21.
A Rogers spokesperson noted that the company had stopped the practice in 2010. “There are some broader legal implications in the decision which we are reviewing in more detail,” said Patricia Trott of Rogers.
The decision comes during a tumultuous time for the real estate industry which after a long battle with the Competition Bureau finally allowed consumers more choice on the Multiple Listing Service which is owned by the Canadian Real Estate Association and responsible for about 90% of all transaction.
The Bureau is now suing the Toronto Real Estate Board over “denying consumer choice,” which includes stopping real estate agents from giving customers full access to the MLS database. TREB is setting up what it calls virtual offices, password protected sites to access the MLS.
Access to data is one issue the Competition Bureau continues to battle over but still left undefined is who actually owns the data, says Lawrence Dale of Realtysellers, who has been squaring off against the industry for years.
“It doesn’t change anything,” says Mr. Dale, adding their has never been a case over who owns the data. “This just says Rogers doesn’t have a right to take the data and use it.”
Meanwhile. Century 21, Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada and Royal LePage Residential Services continue to talk about developing a way to share their data.
“We are waiting for the software to be available for CREA to [allow it]. We are ready to go if they turn the switch and say we can get the data,” says Mr. Lawby, “I hope this comes quicker than later.”
He says there are some who think the industry should shut down the entire MLS in response to the battle but he doesn’t think it will happen.
“It doesn’t have traction,” says Mr. Lawby, saying the decision banning the “scraping” of data could make it easier for the larger real estate companies to share their data and back away from the MLS.