Pinterest Copyright Policy vs Pinterest Terms

    March 5, 2012
    Mike Tuttle
    Comments are off for this post.

While Pinterest is a great inspiration source for artists, and generally a great place for finding designs and recipes (my wife made a pineapple upside-down cake from a Pinterest recipe just yesterday), the debate over how Pinterest handles its copyright issues have some people up in arms.

Recently, Pinterest set up a bit of code that could be put onto websites to allow those sites to “opt out” of being pinned on Pinterest. Trouble is, copyright law enforcement is not based on “opting out”. Businesses have to take proactive steps to ensure copyright holders that they will not tolerate infringement.

Here’s where the difficulty comes. Let’s compare Pinterest‘s copyright policy with another of their own stated terms.

Pinterest states their stand on copyright issues like this:

Pinterest (“Pinterest“) respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same. It is Pinterest’s policy, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, to disable and/or terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.

In fact, the Terms of Service say:

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.

But, under the topic of “Pin Etiguette“, they also say:

Avoid Self PromotionPinterest 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.

And, here is the rub. If you pin only your own material, you are self-promoting, and thus violating pin etiquette. While you may not be booted for this, it is clearly discouraged. So, what does that leave? Pinning other things you find. This is the very intended purpose of Pinterest: pin things you find.

This tightrope that users, and Pinterest itself, must walk is where the entire issue hangs. Lots of people out there don’t mind their material being pinned, so long as they get credit for it. But, some people do. And, as things are written, those that do mind have the law on their side. It is not their responsibility to “opt out”. The very act of holding copyright ensures their rights and exclusivity.

If the Pinterest business model – whatever that ends up being – is to work, they are going to have to find a way to moderate content that copyright holders do not want pinned, while still allowing that “pin what you find” atmosphere to flourish.

YouTube has been walking that tightrope for years. Time will tell what Pinterest‘s intentions are about handling this sensitive issue.

  • http://mitchlabuda.com Mitch Labuda

    The terms of service, set out more than the quoted section;

    “We may, in our sole discretion, permit Members to post, upload, publish, submit or transmit Member Content. By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”

    How can a site modify pinned content, or sell pinned content, which is not owned by the user pinning?

    And how on earth, does a person add a price to a pin, if they do not own the content?

    “How to add a price to a pin
    To add a price to a pin, type the $ or £ symbol followed by the number amount in the description. When you are finished, click Pin It.”

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/mike-tuttle Mike Tuttle

      All great points. Pinterest seems to not be in a hurry to ‘splain any of this.

      • Jessi

        Some people who do put prices on pins do own the item pictured. The picture is usually linked to a site that you can make your purchase or at least contact the owner to arrange your purchase. It’s free advertising. It’s not a perfect system but neither is craigslist and we’ve all heard about how people post things for sale that don’t belong to them either. Some people put prices on because they went to that site and saw that item for sale for x amount and they are just sharing the info. It’s up to you as the consumer to decide if you are going to buy from the legit owner or the guy whose merchandise looks like if fell from a truck.

    • K

      Adding a price is for things that are for sale. For instance, if I saw a necklace for sale on Etsy, and pinned it onto Pinterest, the add the price option would allow me to include the price of the necklace onto the picture. That way users who like and want to buy it know the price.

  • http://www.personalseo.com Personal SEO

    This is a fine line and while facebook and others don’t mind a link to things, there is not typically the full on photo that could be photographed. I have found many a pinner pinning things that only lead back to their one site – no sign of the actual image they pinned…. fishy… and in my mind, completely against policy.

  • http://www.creativebarcode.com Maxine Horn

    Pinterest might have got away with this a couple of years ago but everything has changed now that portal owners, publishers, search engines and so forth are to be held far more accountable for rights holders content and what they and their site users do with Creators works. And right holders need a non-complex means to authenticate their work, communicate ownership, usage terms and police usage.

    Pinterest, if they are not too busy with their lawayers right now, should check out http://www.creativebarcode.com – the first positively disruptive innovation in the IP sector for more than 3 decades and the world’s fastest, easiest, non-complex means to ensure source credits, authentication and ownership is clear to all without complex legal terms that most people simply do read nor understand if they did read them.

    The App enables users to create unique QR codes, denote ownership and usage terms where-ever their work appears and track uploads to ensure they are happy with its usage commercially or non-commercially

    Upcoming developments will make it even easier for the world’s creators, users and publishing portals –

    A non-complex solution to a complex problem

  • jenna

    businesses should also consider social discovery alternatives like http://juxtapost.com – they let visitors collect and share all the same. increased awareness drives more traffic to more sources

  • http://www.garious.com Aaron Eden

    Pinterest is the new kid on the social media block so I’m excited to see new developments in that site. Too bad that some folks have this bad practice of not giving credit where it’s due or worse, redirecting the image link to another web address. I think it’s a new playground for phishing, scams..

  • tali

    Pinterest’s wording about what and how to pin is poor, because it expects that users know the context. In fact, most won’t know. While a user can and should indeed pin their own photos of things, landscapes, DIY tutorials and whatever else they want to show off, they should not plaster their boards with just their own stuffs they want to sell. That’s the point in all this.

    Now, the problem I am having with it is that ever since Pinterest opened up for big companies and cooperates with them via a kind of incentive system, Pinterest thus broke their own rules (the one self promotion one).

    What Pinterest really needs now is a good team of lawyers to review and reword their Terms and legalese. That’s all.