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'McMansion Hell' Shut Down By Cease And Desist From Zillow

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Abandoned Mansion
Abandoned mansion

On Monday, Kate Wagner, a John Hopkins grad student focusing on architectural acoustics, found herself staring down the legal letterhead of a cease and desist order. In her spare time, she runs a popular blog, McMansion Hell, which skewers the trend of mass-produced suburban mansions. Posts on the site featured promotional shots with amenities like "doors to nowhere" and "compulsory chandeliers." Real estate aggregator Zillow was not happy when it noticed she was using photos from its site. Wagner posted a picture of the order to her Twitter account and has since taken down the site while she seeks legal counsel.

Since Wagner started the blog last year, it as been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post and Business Insider. Wagner told Gizmodo she makes about $22K a year from freelance writing and McMansion Hell donations and merchandise sales. According to The Verge, Wagner plans to make McMansion Hell into an e-book, which would feature purchased licensed photos. 

“The intent of the letter wasn’t to force the writer to shut down her site, but we have a legal obligation to enforce the agreements we make with the people who provide listings on Zillow,” a Zillow spokesperson told Gizmodo.

Earlier this year, a federal jury ordered Zillow to pay $8.3M in a copyright infringement lawsuit over images on the site, but that amount has since been cut in half.

Related Topics: Zillow, McMansion Hell