NAR Files Appeal In Copyright Battle

by Autumn McGarr

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Association of Realtors is among a coalition of stakeholders in the real estate industry that is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that threatens copyright liability for the use of floor plans in the sale of a home.

The Washington, DC-based NAR filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief with the high court “in an effort to protect American consumers” from a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The Court’s ruling “misrepresents federal law and would invalidate decades of legal precedent” by allowing copyright infringement lawsuits to be filed against homeowners who make or display floor plans of their own homes.

Congress expressly allowed for homeowners to create “pictures” or “other pictorial representations” of architectural works without fear of liability when crafting the Copyright Act of 1976, the realtors’ association said.

“The Eighth Circuit’s decision not only puts countless consumers at risk of costly, burdensome litigation for making a floor plan of their own home, but it also strains a key sector of America’s economy and threatens a critical tool of transparency for potential home buyers,” said NAR General Counsel Katie Johnson.

“Many home buyers rely on floor plans in real estate listings to decide whether to purchase a residence, and their ability to secure financing for that transaction is often contingent on an appraisal that requires the creation of a floor plan,” the amicus brief reads. “After acquiring a dwelling, homeowners will often make floor plans to help them tackle installations, arrange furniture, and complete do-it-yourself projects…(and) many jurisdictions require homeowners to submit floor plans before they renovate their property.”

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