Homestore is trying to stop technology companies from enabling Realtors to download their MLS home listings data from to their individual Web sites. The company issued a cease-and-desist order to A la mode, demanding it shut down a feature on its real estate agent Web sites that enables agents to pull their own listings directly from

Homestore claims in the cease-and-desist order that A la mode is enabling Realtors to trespass on Homestore’s computer system to acquire copyrighted data. “A la mode is violating Homestore’s copyrights and is in breach of the terms of use,” according to the demand letter.

Homestore operates, the official home listings Web site of the National Association of Realtors. The company also provides marketing exposure and technology products to the real estate industry.

A la mode, which provides technology and Web site services to real estate agents, reluctantly disabled the function today. After negotiating with Homestore for a resolution, A la mode CEO Dave Biggers today sent a letter to the company’s agent customers, saying that it was forced to end the service because claims copyright to the listings that appear on its Web site.

In the letter, Biggers states that Homestore claims ownership of agents’ listings that appear on “They claim it’s copyrighted by them and that your usage of it is copyright infringement and a ‘trespass’ against their system,” he wrote.

According to Homestore’s terms of use, “All materials on the Web sites (as well as the organization and layout of the Web sites) are owned and copyrighted or licensed by, its affiliates or its suppliers…No reproduction, distribution, or transmission of the copyrighted materials at the Web sites is permitted without the written permission of”

A la mode takes issue with the phrase “copyrighted data” in the cease-and-desist order. “They’re saying that it’s their data, when in reality it’s the Realtors’ data,” Kinnaird said.

A la mode’s view is that Homestore is in advertising and marketing partnerships with Realtors, and in such relationships the online real estate firm should not be able to claim ownership of the listings data–which A la mode believes the company is doing through its cease-and-desist order.

Although A la mode turned off the feature today, it’s not planning to let the issue fade. The next step is to challenge through a grassroots campaign to spread awareness to the industry of’s policies on data ownership.

“There’s a huge issue at stake here related to the role of the agent and broker and the profession at large,” Biggers wrote in the letter to A la mode customers. “The core issue of giving up legal rights to your listing to one of your advertising partners is one which we believe needs to be raised–and stopped–at every board meeting across the country.”

Homestore could not be reached for comment.


Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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