Website used Zillow photos to mock bad design; Zillow may sue

Cyrus Farivar, for Ars:

An architecture blogger has temporarily disabled her website,, after receiving a demand letter from Zillow and posting it on Twitter.

On Monday, Zillow threatened to sue Kate Wagner, saying that that she was violating its terms of use, copyright law, and possibly the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act because she took images from the company’s website without permission. However, on each of her posts, she acknowledged that the images came from Zillow and were posted under the fair use doctrine, as she was providing (often humorous) commentary on various architectural styles. Her website was featured on the design podcast 99% Invisible in October 2016.

Confusingly, Zillow does not even own the images in question. Instead, Zillow licenses them from the rights holders. As such, it remains unclear why the company would have standing to bring a lawsuit against Wagner.

Her website is incredibly entertaining, and you’d think such use of photos falls squarely under fair use. It sucks that she had to shutdown her website, and I’m hoping Zillow loses this case hard.


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