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Cliff Peskin
Sept 10, 2009

Century 21 is suing Rogers Communications Inc over its website Zoocasa (see Century 21 does battle with Rogers — the Zoocasa Fight“). The question is why doesn’t Century 21 Canada want more people viewing its real estate listings?

The answer is that Century 21 together with CREA (Canadian Real Estate Association) want to maintain control over how and by who their listings are accessed. In contrast to the United States where listing data is more free flowing, in Canada, CREA and its affiliated brokerages such as Century 21, have an iron like grip on real estate listing data – thereby any individual looking to purchase a home must go through them. They are obviously concerned about losing control over this invaluable information.

The unchecked flow of info on the internet, however, is a game changer for many industries. Should a company such as Roger’s Zoocasa succeed in branding itself as the ‘go to’ place for resale home data than that gives them ‘the ball’. What they elect to do with ‘the ball’ is then somewhat unlimited. Even if Zoocasa doesn’t succeed, Century 21 will have a whole new crop of ‘scraper’ sites to deal with (scraping refers to pulling and then reposting website content). Recently, the American National Association of Realtors called Google a scraper. Does this mean that after pursuing Zoocasa they will then go after Google? And, should they keep winning court battles who’s to say some European or other foreign company or search engine will not go to town scraping and republishing listings

Just like the music industry, the film industry, and the newspaper industry, the internet makes balancing the promotion and ownership of information very difficult. It’s my guess that at the end of the day Century 21 is fighting a losing battle. Their lawsuit may at best delay the impending aggregation of their listing data but to keep it under lock and key forever is most probably an exercise in futility.

Let us know know your thoughts on this subject – its obviously a contentious one with many differing opinions and we’d love to know what you think. To add a comment just click the title of this post and wait for the comment section to appear at the bottom of the article.

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