Editing Map Shapes and Some Interesting Opportunities and Questions

May 2, 2009  |  Michael Wurzer

This last week we added a new function in flexmls Web to allow users to edit map shapes, name them and change their color. You can click to grab any point and move it to change the shape, and you can click in the center of the shape to drag it to a new position.

You also can name each shape and specify a color to distinguish it from others.

We’re next going to add the ability for users to share shapes with each other, which we think will produce some interesting collaborative opportunities to improve searching, statistics, and CMAs.

Do you think the ability to share shapes will be useful?

Who do you think owns the shape data once it is saved and shared?

14 Responses to “Editing Map Shapes and Some Interesting Opportunities and Questions”

  1. Jim Duncan says:

    Will the ability to make and share shapes be useful? ABSOLUTELY.

    Who owns the share data is a far more complex and layered question. I would argue that the owner is the creator. Each shape is likely to be unique and creative … but I would advocate for educating the users to license their shapes in a collaborative, Creative Commons’-type license.

    I would *LOVE* if my IDX provider, Diverse Solutions, had this feature … or a proximity search,assuming that they were embeddable on my blog …

  2. Duane Sauke says:

    Great expansion of a tool. Very useful to share to others. I agree with Jim D, owned by creator but advocate for an open license or work toward an “open source” type of environment. Another view on sharing/ownership could be that sharing can be restricted to friends, company, MLS members, etc as the creator sees fit.

  3. Ron Stephan says:

    Well this conversation seems to present a whole new set of issues for MLS.
    Perhaps we need to review our copright language in the rules and regs.
    While ours clearly discusses listing content and our ownership rights it doesn’t specifically discuss creations made within the MLS system. In our MLS as far as content everything entered in to MLS like a photo belongs to the MLS. However your concept here is that a member “created” a shape and therfore should have a copyright interest therein. Do they have a copyright interest in saved searches? Do they have a copyright interest in created CMA’, email templates, reports etc etc ? I think not ! But having said that I guess based on Jim’s comment we need to expand our terms of use of MLS and our copyright language ASAP.

  4. Jim Duncan says:

    Ron –

    Copyright is something that is a potential huge issue, one which I do not believe most MLS are addressing, or are competent to address.

    If a photographer takes pictures for a property, he or she may license the use to the Realtor for use in that listing, but likely doesn’t transfer ownership to the Realtor or the Seller … and certainly not the MLS …

  5. Do they have a copyright interest in saved searches? Do they have a copyright interest in created CMA’, email templates, reports etc etc ? I think not!

    I think this will be an interesting topic for our Summit this year.

  6. Ron Stephan says:

    For the sake of continuing this discussion I submit the following
    For our protection our rules our listing agreement and our membership application all include an “unlimited right to use” clause for content entered in to the MLS system. For example our listing agreement language states the SELLER hereby grants to NEFMLS, NEFAR and BROKER the unlimited right to use, publish, disseminate, sell and license all text, graphics, photos, virtual tours, documents and any other forms of data entered into the NEFMLS system and SELLER hereby releases to NEFMLS, NEFAR and BROKER all of the SELLER’S interests in all intellectual property rights therein. While I don’t disagree that some sellers and members may not receive the copyright they and/or the broker are obligated to get the right to use prior to entering anything in the MLS. Should we get a complaint from the original creator and when we get complaints about other members using a photo provided by the first listing member we would again honor that original creator’s wishes.
    However I see Mike’s question differently. The member could not create the shape without the software of the mls system allowing it in the first place…..similar to the saved search and CMA therefore I really dont believe the member has an ownership right in something created by a tool provided by the MLS. As a precaution I do agree that as an MLS we need to enhance our copyright language and terms of use to include creations by members within the MLS application.

  7. Duane Sauke says:

    This is the line I have been thinking myself. As a broker we would like to protect our interests in content that is unique and of value but I find it hard to claim that creating a search shape in the furtherance of a cma, statistical search, etc would rise to the level of warranting copyright protection. I agree that the best method is to carve out, through the use policy and agreements that creations as a part of a work flow are not reserved.

  8. I asked the question for one reason: I don’t know the answer. I also don’t think anyone else knows and that, as Ron has pointed out, the current agreements are unclear on the point. I posted about CRM data awhile back, too, and it appears the contracts between agent and broker may not be clear there, either. See http://blog.flexmls.com/?p=593.

    I was at a conference in Portland a few weeks ago (Ron was there, too) and Bill Chee said something to the effect of: “I’m much more interested in people data than I am in listing data today.” I very much agree with this statement, and think it has a ton of impact for MLSs, MLS vendors, brokers, agents and consumers as the web mashes together all this data. Careful thought needs to be given so that we don’t end up with disagreements and restrictions on the data that will slow everyone down.

  9. Ron Stephan says:

    Oops I forgot Michaels other point. I think the map shape capability is just FANTASTIC! OUTSTANDING! THE BEST! Way to go FBS! Now when do we get it:)

  10. Whenever you want, Ron. If you were hosting with us, you’d already have it. 🙂

  11. Jim Duncan says:

    Careful thought needs to be given so that we don’t end up with disagreements and restrictions on the data that will slow everyone down.

    Good luck with that. 🙂


  12. Ken McCasland says:

    Michael, I believe we often spend a lot of time evaluating copyright, value, sharing, etc. for new technology, only to find in a year or so it was no big deal. To your direct question, I believe users should be able to share with others as they wish, but not allow others down the line to share it. The exception might be that if you share it ‘up’ it is allowed back down. So if an agent shares with her broker, the broker can give it to other agents. Or if someone shares it with the MLS, the MLS in turn can share it down. No actual copyright issues should be brought into this, IMHO.
    BTW, you turned that feature on right in the middle of my training of new agents, in fact just as I was teaching map shapes!

  13. Ken McCasland says:

    Oh, and it IS a slick new feature (something more for me to teach!)

  14. Gary Cumiskey says:

    Copyright… smopyrigt… the new map-app is a genuine killa, Michael! The ability to share will be well received all around as well! Well done!