Is Pinterest ‘pinning’ illegal?

Be careful what you pin...

Is Pinterest the Napster of cupcake recipes and vintage furniture?  Copyright infringement is a dicey game online. Millions of images are shared daily — but is it legal?

That’s exactly what a lawyer/photographer named Kristin wondered, according to Business Insider. She was a big fan of Pinterest, a popular website that provides an interactive experience for its users by allowing them to “pin” things they like, sharing their interests with friends.

Kristen decided to do a little research and found a rude wake-up call in Pinterest’s Terms of Use. Turns out, the website’s members must have explicit permission from an image’s owner before sharing it. However, the site encourages its users to re-pin community photos.

Federal copyright laws state that copyrighted work can be shared without consent by the owner if someone is criticizing it, commenting on it, reporting on it, teaching about it, or conducting research — re-pinning doesn’t count as any of those.

Also, Pinterest users should be aware that if their pinning ways to come under fire by angry photographers or artists, they hold sole responsibility — not the site, according to this bit from its Terms of Use. The user would even be responsible for any charges against Pinterest.

You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms

While you think you might be doing an artist or photographer a favor by sharing his or her work, and even giving them credit for it, Kristen concluded that the decision is not for a Pinterst user to make, but for the work’s owner.


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