Problems with Pinterest and copyright. You could be sued for pinning

10 replies
A lawyer just removed all her Pinterest boards because she was concerned that pinning photos from photographers and websites was a copyright violation. And it is.

Not only that but if you get sued by the photographer, not only do you have to hire your own attorney you have to hire and pay for one for Pinterest per their TOS.

Here's the article.
Lawyer assesses Pinterest's copyright situation
#copyright #pinterest #problems
  • Profile picture of the author lerxtjr
    Great post...and a great question for tons of debate. Essentially it comes down to whether you believe if adding a "comment" about a pinned photo or image is really enough to keep you safe from the hounds. Sounds like an opportunity for all kinds of legal fraud like when broadcast faxing became illegal.

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  • Profile picture of the author onSubie

    had the same problem. They ignored it until their traffic grew, they faced lawsuits and were bought out by a "legit?" (Google) company.

    I doubt individual users would be targeted for pins. Of course it is always possible.

    Pinterest has provided a (rather weak) option to content owners to add code that makes their content "unpinnable". This doesn't prevent someone from saving an image from a protected web site and then posting the image they have saved.

    This is certainly something Pinterest will have to deal with as their reputation grows.

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    • Profile picture of the author tpw
      Originally Posted by onSubie View Post

      I doubt individual users would be targeted for pins. Of course it is always possible.

      The music industry made examples of single mom's whose kids downloaded pirated music.

      So, I cannot imagine photographers and more specifically stock photo companies not targeting individual users.

      But then, Google Images gets around it... So, I don't know...
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      • Profile picture of the author SlicedGenius
        I think there is a difference between sharing an image you don't own but that is publicly available - than pirating. Sure if you purchase a bunch of stock photos then circulate them via pinterest - that's outright illegal. Another nasty area would be pins that (regardless of the image used) point you to somewhere dodgy, - like an image of The Simpsons logo, pointing to a MediaFire like download site of the latest episode.

        It's certainly a thorny issue though for sure - and Pinterest (I feel) is just bringing it to the fore. The root problem already exists in all social media - sharing of content across Facebook and Twitter is already rife - but because Pinterest focuses on it visually, it's getting a lot of attention.

        As others mentioned, they have released code to allow sites to prevent pinning - and they have introduced in the last couple of months the description to be mandatory, not optional.

        Personally, I feel the web is a little like a giant advertisement, so sharing someone's content (as long as credit is given - i.e. you share from the original source) is not only fair - but in fact flattering and helping them. If someone posts content on the web freely that they don't want shared, then they should have thought more carefully, they can always add a watermark.

        Of course, I would not condone the stuff mentioned above - or promoting content as if their own in order to profit from it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elluminati
    Interesting article. But from my understanding, users are covered by fair use if the copyrighted work is used without permission only to comment/criticize, report on, teach, or conduct research.

    When you pin something, you have the ability to comment. I can only image the heaps of people to be sued from using Pinterest while the people running the are sitting back chilling with no worries...I know I'm not worried, but will be more considerate of this issue from here on out.
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    • Profile picture of the author AprilCT
      I haven't joined Pinterest and am thinking I probably won't -- at least so far. Copyright issues are definitely a problem for the unwary and non-legal types. Too many people just accept TOS and don't even think about it. Just try posting something from places like Getty Images and see what happens.

      Pinterest may not be quite as good an idea as everyone might think, even though it seems quite a popular place. I'm sure there are loads of people using the site who have a huge minus when weighing their assets against liabilities. If the poor person can't pay, where does that leave them?

      From my own point of view, perhaps I'll just sit this out for a while and see what transpires.
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  • Profile picture of the author ahew
    I finally set up an account a few weeks ago after reading so much about what people are doing with it for business. Haven't had time to really pin anything. Not sure I want to now. Thanks for the great tip!

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    • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
      A lot of potential issues with it. Here is another article...
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  • Profile picture of the author Alan Petersen
    I thought about that when I was pinning to a board I created for authors I like and I plopped their URL to pin and clicked on "Find Images" so I could pin their picture.

    Pinterest did just that. I was like whoa, that could be ugly. That article confirms my fear. Gives me that, I just stepped on dog poop while on a nice walk feeling.
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  • Profile picture of the author mywebwork
    Scary article for sure, definitely food for thought.

    Guess I'll stick with pinning my own stuff on Pinterest and see how this all turns out.

    Also, you've probably noticed that you can add a Pin This button to your site to encourage people to pin the images. I'm assuming that the sites who install one of these are encouraging their use to get backlink juice from pinterest, and would probably be OK with using it.

    Of course that last sentence had both "assuming" and "probably" in it!

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