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OPLIN 4Cast #270: Pinterest and the law

Posted in 4cast

Most readers of this blog probably already know about Pinterest, and many are probably Pinterest users. OPLIN staff have not been pushing libraries to jump into the Pinterest frenzy, because frankly, even though some of us enjoy Pinterest personally, we cannot figure out what good it is for a library. You can’t link images of book covers to your catalog, for instance, and you can always post pics of your storytime on your own website. (Please feel free to tell us in the comments if we’ve overlooked a good Pinterest idea.) Now there’s a growing concern that Pinterest users may run afoul of the copyright law, which is certainly something you and your library should know about.

  • Is Pinterest the new Napster? ( Davis)  “If a user sees an image anywhere on the web, they are just a couple clicks (with the Pinterest bookmarking link) from pinning it to their board and thus onto the Pinterest site. This is how Pinterest is used by almost every user. […] The problem with this is that Pinterest’s own terms of service states that you need to be the owner of or have explicit permission including all right, licenses, consents and releases to pin any image to their service.”
  • Pinterest might be enabling massive copyright theft (Business Insider/Kevin Lincoln)  “Pinterest definitely allows users to post other photographers’ work to the site. But it’s not clear that this is illegal. In its terms of use, Pinterest actually specifies that users shouldn’t pin photos they don’t own the rights to, a request that is being ignored to an absurd degree. Even if you link and attribute, that does NOT absolve you of the fact that you took someone else’s work and re-appropriated it.”
  • How Pinterest uses your content without violating copyright laws (ReadWriteWeb/Dave Copeland)  “Pinterest is able to avoid violating U.S. copyright laws thanks to a provision in the Internet Service Providers Act, which gives immunity to sites that publish information provided by others […]. As long as Pinterest continues to comply with a provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that requires it to remove content when asked by the copyright owner, users are free to continue pinning any images they find on the Internet.”
  • How your business could get sued for using Pinterest (Boston Business Journal/Galen Moore)  “Unlike other social media services, when you ‘pin’ something on Pinterest, you automatically upload an (at least) medium-sized version of the related image to the service. Exceptions for publishers of user-generated content protect Pinterest, but they don’t protect you. Unless you know you have a ‘worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license,’ you’d better tread carefully.”

Users fact:
According to AppData, Pinterest currently has about 2 million daily active users.