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CoStar files suit against two Fort Worth real estate professionals for copyright infringement

CoStar Group, a national provider of commercial real estate data, is suing two Fort Worth real estate appraisers, saying they shared access to the subscription-based service in violation of terms of a license agreement.

The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Massachusetts against Chris Chevreaux and Ben Dyess, said “this is a case of willful copyright infringement, as well as a breach of contract and fraud.”

CoStar, based in Washington, D.C., alleges in the suit that Chevreaux accessed its data without a license. CoStar said the two men “deliberately tricked” the company when Dyess asked CoStar to provide Chevreaux with an ID and pass code under his license, even though Chevreaux did not work for Dyess and was not eligible to be an authorized user. Dyess has subscribed to CoStar since 2003.

In return, Chevreaux paid Dyess a monthly fee for the use, the suit said. The illegal use resulted in nearly $15,000 in unpaid license fees, CoStar said.

“CoStar is able to allege more than $1 million in statutory damages for copyright infringement in the suit,” the firm said.

Dyess said Thursday that the allegations CoStar makes against him “are not true” and that the suit “came as a total, total surprise to me. They had been talking to him [Chevreaux] about it and have had no communication with me. We didn’t steal anything from them.”

Chevreaux could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The suit is one of several that CoStar said it has filed recently against eight commercial real estate firms and individuals, alleging theft.

“CoStar has a long-standing commitment to securing its networks and ensuring that only legitimate subscribers access its databases,” the company said. “When people steal access to CoStar’s database it hurts legitimate clients so CoStar acts decisively to prevent such theft.”

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