Pinterest isa wildly popular website that allows users to “pin” images on virtual boards, which are shared with other users. Seems pretty innocent at first but dig a little into the site’s terms and conditions and you will see the danger that exists for unsuspecting pinners. As it turns out the Pinterest website is a hotbed for copyright infringement. More often than not when users pin a visually stunning image found somewhere out on the web they fail to obtain the creator’s permission to do so. Although exposure on Pinterest is generally positive and favorable for the creator of the work the fact remains that it is unlawful to engage in this type of behavior without prior consent.
So what? Who cares? It seems like the good far out-weighs the negatives and only a fool would want to bring a lawsuit upon a site that drives new web traffic to interesting creatives. But what if someone did, then what? Well, here’s the rub: If a lawsuit were to emerge Pinterest plans to pass along any penalties to its users. That’s right, if Pinterest gets sued for copyright infringement and loses, it will send along the bill to all its users who are violating the law. In fact, if a lawsuit is brought upon a user who has pinned an image in violation of copyright law then that user must hire a lawyer for both their self and for Pinterest! What’s more is Pinterest can then turn around and file suit against the user for violating its terms and conditions. Pinning isn’t so much fun anymore now is it?
Further upsetting to the copyright apple cart are Pinterest’s contradictory statements regarding the law. Pinterest says it respects intellectual property rights and expects its users to do the same. In the terms and conditions it states that users should “have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs [Pinterest’s parent company] the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms.” OK. That’s fine, but look at the other thing Pinterest says about content on its website: “Avoid Self Promotion. Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”
So if I am the owner of the work I can pin it and not violate the copyright issues. But if I only pin my own work then I violate the self-promotion issues. It seems clear that Pinterest needs to revisit its terms and conditions regarding this potentially volatile legal matter. Until then I am off Pinterest lest I become a pinhead footing the bill of a lawsuit.
// Jules Manning
0 notes, March 15, 2012