I think Rob Dawg might have started this one – his blog is where I heard of the McMansion Hell on Friday, and now Zillow is chasing her around like a felon:
McMansion Hell is a Tumblr blog that highlights the absurdity of giant real estate properties and the ridiculous staging and photography that are omnipresent in their sales listings. The blog, started by 23-year-old Johns Hopkins graduate student Kate Wagner, began in July 2016 as a way to poke fun at pretentious architecture. It has since gone viral, but now she’s facing potential legal charges by real estate site Zillow for allegedly violating the site’s terms of service by reproducing the images on her blog.
A typical McMansion Hell blog post will have a professional photo of a home and/or its interior, along with captions scattered throughout by Wagner. She also adds information about the history and characteristics of various architecture styles, and uses photos from the likes of Zillow and Redfin to illustrate how so many real estate listings inaccurately use the terms.
Under each post, Wagner adds a disclaimer that credits the original source of the images and cites Fair Use for the parody, which allows for use of copyrighted material for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” In a cease and desist letter to Wagner, Zillow claims Wagner’s reproduction of these images do not apply under the Copyright Act. Additionally, the company claims McMansion Hell may “[interfere] with Zillow’s business expectations and interests.”
Zillow got sued for using photos without authorization, so now they are going after the little people with a vengeance? Where will they stop?