Code of Ethics Case Studies
Case #12-15: Links to Other Internet Sites
Noting the increasing numbers of people using the Internet, REALTOR® A decided to have a Web site designed. She hired a consultant and proceeded to plan her site and its contents. Realizing that her Web site might be enhanced by providing a link to all the local listings on REALTOR.org, she decided to have her Web site designed to provide such a link.
A few months later, REALTOR®B, a competing broker in the same community, was surfing the Web and happened upon REALTOR® A's new Web site. Upon exploring it, he discovered the link to REALTOR.org which included REALTOR® B's listings.
REALTOR® B immediately filed an ethics complaint with the local Board of REALTORS® alleging that REALTOR® A had violated Article 12 of the Code of Ethics as interpreted by the Standard of Practice 12-4. Following review by the Board's Grievance Committee, the complaint was scheduled for a hearing before a Hearing Panel of the Board's Professional Standards Committee.
At the hearing, REALTOR® B argued that by providing a link to the listings on REALTOR.org, REALTOR® A was advertising without authority all the listings in the local MLS on the Internet Web site.
REALTOR® A countered saying that in the culture of the Internet, it is well established that links are merely a method of "pointing" or "referring" to another site; that the information had not been altered nor had any information been deleted; and that people who view the Internet Web sites understand that. She went on to analogize what she had done to distributing copies of the local homes magazine. Even though the magazine contained ads promoting other REALTORS® listings, by delivering that information to prospective buyers, she was not advertising their listings.
What do you think the hearing panel concluded? Show Answer