MLS Committee Approves Update to IDX Policy

By Laura Melcher, Manager, Editorial Development, 

The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Committee on Thursday approved a decision to update the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) Policy to reflect the difference between site “scrapers,” which steal listing data with malicious intent, and site “indexers,” such as Google or Yahoo.

Several REALTORS® took the mic at the MLS Forum to argue for the clarification, stating that indexers help consumers and members by ensuring listings are broadly “searchable” on the Web. Among them were Jay Thompson and Paula Henry, REALTOR® bloggers who engaged in a recent Agent Genius debate about indexing vs. scraping.

“Everyone agrees that the original intent [of the policy] was to prevent malicious intent, and everyone agrees that Google does not qualify as malicious intent,” Thompson said. “This could be handled by adding a sentence to Section 2 [of the policy]” regarding appropriate use by search engines.

Other speakers mentioned the need for NAR to be “on the side of consumers” and to “do the right thing to modify its policy.” After several statements showing uniform support for the measure, the committee leadership showed a proposed update to policy verbiage, as follows:

Current policy:

2. Participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction or use of the MLS database. 

Proposed policy:

2. Participants must protect IDX information from unauthorized use. This requirement does not prohibit indexing of IDX sites by search engines.

The committee approved the change, which must now go before NAR’s Board of Directors on Saturday.