Pinterest–I tried it and …

Update 3/24/2012 — I’m reconsidering my concern over Pinterest. Pinterest has come out with revised terms and is working on making private pinboards available.

I’ve developed a Pinterest Policy page.  Most pages here will be open for pinning, though the front page, archives, and selected pages will have it blocked.

A Pinterest pinboard, to me, is an online, published compilation of images that someone has collected.   It’s sort of like a published scrapbook.  If ya publish it, ya need to have the rights to publish the individual items in the scrapbook (compilation).


I don’t like it.

It’s a great concept – organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.

There’s just two big sticky problems.


The first is called copyright infringement.

Pinterest is primarily based around collecting pictures.  In collecting images and “pinning” them on their pinboards, the Pinterest user is publishing copies of other peoples’ work.

Copyright of a photograph or drawing starts as soon as an image is fixed in some sort of permanent form.  For electronic images, that occurs as soon as an image is saved as a file.

Making copies of this file, including publishing it somewhere other than where it is intended, violates the exclusive right of the creator of the image to make and/or approve copies.  The right to copy is why it’s called copyright.  If you didn’t create it and didn’t get permission, then you don’t have a right to copy, you don’t have a right to pin.

Terms of Use

The other big problem is the Pinterest terms of use.

Under the terms of  use, if you use Pinterest, then 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.”

The terms of use also says none of your Pinterest activities “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.”

In other words, by the terms of use that everyone agrees to before they can use Pinterest, every user is saying they have the right or permission to use every single thing that they are putting on their pinboard.

Somehow I rather doubt that many users really understand or that they even actually read the terms of use, let alone this part.

Wikipedia has an interesting statement concerning Pinterest and the issue of copyright.

Pinterest has a notification system which allows copyright holders to request that content be removed from the site. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor status of Pinterest has been questioned given that it actively promotes its users to copy to Pinterest, for their perpetual use, any image on the internet. Pinterest users cannot claim safe harbor status and as such are exposed to possible legal action for pinning copyrighted material. (emphasis mine – MpG)

While it’s an interesting concept, given the present state of the internet and current copyright laws and treaties, the design of Pinterest by its very nature fosters unintended abuse of the intellectual property rights of others.

I’ve spent too much time researching and learning about copyright.  I ‘m going to have to take a pass on Pinterest.

Copy Right, Copy Sense


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