Pinning down copyright issues

Pinterest has become one of the fastest-growing social networks on the web, with millions of users.  The site allows you to share images from the web using a “pin it” button.  Your images are then published on your Pinterest “board” – a collection of images centered around a topic that you have chosen, such as home design or recipes.

copyright issuesHowever, the nature of the site is bringing up issues of copyright, leading some to fear being sued.  As has been widely reported, one lawyer/photographer deleted all of her Pinterest boards after looking into the legality of Pinterest.  One of the things that concerned her most was Pinterest’s Terms of Use statement, which includes this sentence on “Limitation of Liability”:

“YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND — USE OF THE SITE, APPLICATION, SERVICES AND SITE CONTENT REMAINS WITH YOU.”

In short, if an artist or photographer sues for copyright infringement, you can be held responsible for hiring a defense lawyer for yourself – and even for Pinterest!

Some of us remember when record labels began suing users of the Napster site for violating copyright by sharing music.  Will this go that far?

These legal concerns have led Pinterest to create a “nopin” HTML meta tag that Website can add to opt our of having their photos and media pinned.  That seems to put the burden on the creator of the work, not the user, so it’s unclear how that will work out.

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