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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Apartment Hunters found liable in CoStar copyright infringement dispute

Judge orders company to pay $10K per stolen listing and $10K per infringed image
March 29, 2017 10:30AM

CoStar CEO Andrew Florance and Apartmenthunterz.com, website of Apartment Hunters

Commercial real estate data company CoStar Group has scored a significant victory in its ongoing crusade against alleged data theft.

A federal judge has issued an injunction against Orange County-based Apartment Hunters, finding it liable for publishing listings and photographs stolen from CoStar-owned Apartments.com.

The judge ordered Apartment Hunters, which owns ApartmentHunterz.com, to cease publishing the listings, add a copyright filter to its system and pay $10,000 per day, per photograph in the event of further infringement. It will also pay damages of $10,000 per stolen listing and $10,000 per infringed image.

“[I]f investors provide a billion dollars to CoStar to fund extensive collection of information that is valuable to millions of renters, those investors need to know that a company like Apartment Hunters cannot casually publish that information and call it their own,” CoStar CEO Andrew Florance said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Apartment Hunters could not be reached and several phone numbers connected to the company seemed to be out of service.

Last month, Apartment Hunters filed a response to CoStar’s allegations, denying all claims. The company, headed by Kevin and Steven Shayan, argued that CoStar failed to properly identify its copyrighted material.

CoStar has taken legal action against multiple of its competitors, alleging infringement. In December, it sued its biggest rival Xceligent, accusing the company of “piracy” and “copyright infringement on an industrial scale” and claiming Xceligent’s researchers regularly trawled CoStar’s and LoopNet’s (now a CoStar subsidiary) databases to steal property data and images. The complaint mirrored previous lawsuits against data startups RealMassive, LoopNet and against users of CompStak.

Xceligent has denied the claims. — Cathaleen Chen