She often makes memes out of Zillow home listing photos, pointing out features of home exteriors and rooms that are not exactly likely to win architecture awards. "It's pretty terrifying when someone issues you a letter saying you're a criminal and you're going to jail".
Wagner released a statement on Twitter Monday, stating that she is now seeking counsel in order to respond to Zillow before their deadline. "There have been no major issues regarding copyright complaints regarding the blog until this moment".
This post has been updated with comment from Zillow.
Outside Zillow's headquarters in downtown Seattle on Tuesday morning, someone plastered the walls with many colorful signs reading "MCMANSION HELL FOREVER".
Still, she said the exact nature of the content could depend on what advice her legal team gives her. Shorty after sharing the letter, Wagner took the site down.
Given that, as we discussed in our original post, there is no legitimate legal claim here, the only thing that the threat letter seems to have done is piss off a ton of people about Zillow. The site is now offline as Wagner debates her options, but she expects it to be back up by the end of this week. We hope you will be able to resume your writing and find other sources for photos.
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Zillow took issue with the unauthorized use of its photos for a critical goal. In that sense, Zillow is uncomfortable acting as a middle-man for people like Wagner to use photos that were copyrighted by photographers and realtors. That responsibility falls on the copyright owners themselves, which in this case are real estate agents, brokerages, Multiple Listing Services, and other users who upload photos to Zillow. Ars Technica reports that Zillow doesn't own the photos in question.
"If we were to back off this, and everyone started taking photos off our site and using them, we'd have a lot of trouble getting photos for our site", Hefter said.
"It's nothing personal", she added. You don't need permission to make fair use of copyrighted materials - that's the whole point. Fair use means she can do what she's doing and Zillow should shut up, other than maybe offering an apology.
Tuesday afternoon she informed her followers, and folks paying close attention to this developing story, that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has taken on her cause. "[McMansions] were built to sell in the year they were selling, not for future generations", Wagner told the Post.
Her aversion to jargon and embrace of image-based critique has earned McMansion Hell fans in and outside the architecture world. "It's enough to pay my rent and eat and go to grad school".
"I'm not, like, making bank here", she said.