Pinterest and Copyright rules

The hottest new social site, Pinterest, has responded to concerns of copyright conscious website owners by offering a way for sites to block pinning directly from their websites (by placing a  <meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” /> in their site’s header).

Sites that don’t want users stealing pinning their images can now place code on their site and Pinterest’s users will no longer be able to pin images from that site in one click.

The move comes on the heels of several articles outlining the fact that almost all Pinterest users are violating copyright laws and that Pinterest’s terms of service actually make the user liable for that copyright infringement.

Unfortunately, Pinterest is merely putting the proverbial lipstick on their copyright abusing pig.

Pinterest users can STILL save any image from any website, and upload it to Pinterest (removing any value to the originating site) where it can then be repinned into oblivion.

Pinterest also still puts ALL of the responsibility and, more importantly, liability for that copyright violation on their users. If a copyright holder decides to get litigious with Pinterest, Pinterest would likely turn around and sue the user for any damages or costs associated with that lawsuit.

And assuming you actually ARE the copyright holder of that image you just pinned, you just granted Pinterest 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!”

Don’t Ruin Pinterest!

My wife has been a Pinterest addict pretty much from the first moment she was introduced to the site. She’s gotten ideas for everything from meals to hair styles to dog toys and treats from her fellow pinners. And every time she sensed any interest from me in the site for marketing purposes she’d instantly threaten me. “Don’t ruin Pinterest!” The “or else” was pretty much implied.

Pinterest Ruined Pinterest

But my wife is also an avid photographer. When I explained that by pinning any photo she didn’t own she was very likely breaking the law and by pinning photos she DOES own, she was granting Pinterest that “perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license” I was more than a little afraid she was going to stab me.

“Sorry,” I said, “I really didn’t mean to ruin Pinterest.”

“YOU didn’t ruin Pinterest, Pinterest ruined Pinterest, and I hope people make a BIG stink about it.”

And in one single sentence my wife summed up Pinterest’s MAJOR problem with copyright.

By putting both copyright owners and their users at risk, Pinterest will have no one left in their corner defending them like they had when it was discovered Pinterest was secretly swapping out users’ affiliate links for their own.

Other image sites such as Google Images or Yahoo owned Flickr display copyrighted images just like Pinterest does. Other image sites make copyright owners opt-out of having their images stolen. Almost all image sites make content creators enforce the copyright laws because the image site owners don’t care who’s copyright is being violated as long as THEY aren’t the ones being held liable for it.

But unlike almost every other image site out there, Pinterest forces their users to grant Pinterest unprecedented rights to use their images however Pinterest wants!

As it stands now, Pinterest has allowed hundreds if not thousands of people to violate Matthew (Oatmeal) Inman’s copyright by fraudulently grant Pinterest free reign to do whatever they want with his images. If Inman himself were to pin his comics, Pinterest could sell books, t-shirts, posters, greeting cards (all items Inman himself currently sells) and he wouldn’t be owed a dime.

The scenarios are endless, but they revolve around Pinterest benefiting from content producers’ work while perpetually and irrevocably screwing them in the process.'%20work%20while%20perpetually%20%26%20irrevocably%20screwing%20them.&

Irrevocable Means It’s Too Late

If you, like most people, didn’t actually read Pinterest’s terms of service and posted images you own onto Pinterest, you’re likely too late. While I’m certainly not a lawyer, granting someone irrevocable rights seems to suggest you can’t just delete your pins and revoke Pinterest’s right to do whatever they please with that image.

So yes, Pinterest will be making copyright violation one or two steps tougher for users by allowing site owners to block one click pins.

Unfortunately they’re still passing the burden of copyright violations on to their users while quietly acquiring irrevocable and transferable rights to millions of images that they can sub-license, sell, or distribute however they want.

Speak Out!

If my wife’s reaction is any indication, Pinterest users are going to be just as upset at Pinterest as copyright holders should be. To help get the message out we recommend pinning and sharing either of the two images below. We promise not to sue you for pinning them, no matter what Pinterest decides to do with them.

Image source: pasukaru76 & p-j-trash

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