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Addendum in lease agreement raises question about tenants' rights

Imagine that you have just invited a group of your friends over to your apartment to celebrate a special occasion. During the course of the night, you take several pictures of your friends in your apartment then later upload them to your social media page.

A few days later though, you receive an angry letter from your landlord who says that you do not have permission to distribute the photos because you are infringing on their copyright. You find this absurd though. You were the one who took the pictures. Shouldn't you have the rights to the pictures?

According to a social media addendum that was discovered in the lease agreement for a Florida apartment complex, the answer to this question would appear to be no. That's because, according to the addendum which has been connected to the Windermere Cay in Orange County, any resident who signed the clause gave ownership of copyrights from photos taken within units or on the apartment grounds to the property owner.

Although some residents may not have noticed the addendum and signed it willingly, one resident did raise the question about whether such a practice was legal. And according to Law Professor Eric Goldman from the Santa Clara University in California, the answer is not only no but forcing residents to sign such an addendum could open the property's management company up to legal disputes.

There are a lot of people in Florida -- and across the nation for that matter -- who believe that if something is listed in a contract or lease agreement, they are legally obligated to sign it. Unfortunately, the terms of some contracts are not always legal. Worse still, few know enough about the law to question the enforceability of such a contract.

If a contract or leasing agreement were ever in question for any of our Melbourne readers, we'd like to remind them that they do have the right to seek legal counsel, especially if a dispute arises because of it. As so many of you know, the law can get complicated; but if you face it with the help of a lawyer, you have a better chance of understanding it and navigating it as well.

Source: ARS Technica, "One apartment complex’s rule: You write a bad review, we fine you $10k," Joe Mullin, March 10, 2015

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