Pinterest: Is it just fun or is it copyright infringement?

Cincinnati, OH


In case you’re one the few people that haven’t heard of the newest social media sensation, Pinterest, it’s a cozy place to “pin” those things that interest you and share them with others. It is billed as a “virtual bulletin board,” saying on it’s site that, “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

Although it is still “closed” to the general public you can view the site even if you haven’t been “invited”.

While the site’s user “pinnings” may seem rather innocent and fun, there are many rumblings through cyber-space and in the legal world that don’t see the site that way. In fact, in a recent article on Business Insider, a photographer/lawyer has some warnings about pinning items to the site, especially copyright infringement.

At issue is the fine print that users accept to be part of the site, namely: “By transmitting content to our server you guarantee us that you have the right to make this content available for use,” and “you grant us a right of use to such content.” The term ‘right of use’ could have many legal meanings.

Many retailers and businesses are happy for the publicity that being pinned gives them, others are not so happy that their work is being pinned on a social media site without due credit or compensation. Until any formal legal action or litigation occurs users might be wise to use caution when posting pictures and ensure they are crediting the source and perhaps ask for permission to “pin” a picture.

If you have pictures on your website that you do not want users to “pin”, Pinterest has offered a bit of code you can use on your website to prevent use. The following code should be added to the “head of any page on your site: <meta name=”pinterest”content=nopin”/>. When a user tries to pin from your site, they will see this message: ‘This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the own with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

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