February 21, 2012
Pinterest Users Need to Read the Fine Print
You love Pinterest. It's the latest trend driving traffic to your blog – more than Google, Facebook and other social media sites. You've jumped on the Pinterest band wagon and use it to upload your images and pin other images that you think are funny or brilliant. Well, be careful. You may get into trouble if you didn't read the user agreement, says Boston Business Journal's Galen Moore.
Haven't your parents told you to read the fine print and obscure clauses at the bottom of pages? Of course they have and if you listened and practiced their wisdom, you won't be surprised at what Moore found out after he began implementing Pinterest, setting up an account and establishing some pinboards for visual appeal.
The following day, he took the pinboards down.
Moore says, "Believe it or not, Pinterest's service agreement gives it the right to sell images that users upload." Now, I hear you saying so what? Well, it's trickier than so what.
Pinterest operator's terms of service, as presented by Cold Brew Labs begin to seem fuzzy when it comes to "Member Content." This is what is written.
By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs 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.
You're still not concerned. You have pictures that you post and publish on Pinterest. You still own the rights to those pictures. Yes. But you've just gone into a free partnership with Pinterest FOREVER, THAT MEANS into perpetuity! They are able to SELL, transfer, stream, sublicense, use, adapt, modify, LICENSE and otherwise EXPLOIT your member content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.
OK. I get it. You are thrilled that you are being presented to the world. All that free publicity with your name posted on your stuff (not necessarily). You tell yourself that for their exploitation, you will eventually be able to sell as users become familiar with your art/work, linking back to your own websites (not always). And you'll make a bundle, so they can help themselves. And yes, Pinterest's presentation is awesome, attractive and you're gobsmacked by it as my Aussie cousins would say.
And that's OK if IT IS YOUR OWN STUFF. BUT! In the age of Megaupload, Pinterest has made sure Cold Brew Labs has done due diligence with this clause:
… 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, as contemplated under these Terms.
When you upload to Pinterest, you publish a medium-sized version of the related image to the service. Publishers of user-generated content protect Pinterest. You are not protected. Moore's point is well taken Just make sure with everything you post, you have a "worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license." And here's the rub. If you publish something, first asking for permission (and are granted it) does the permission grantor understand that if it's on Pinterest, their images have just been made available to be bought by a third party? Better read them the fine print after you've read it over a few times. There may be a few snafus.
If you are a small business owner with much deeper pockets of course, your lawyers will be sure to check this out thoroughly. If you are somewhere in between, then get some appropriate and sound legal advice.
But Pinterest, concerned about hapless, unwitting copyright violators and extremely concerned about copyright holders has made things easier for holders to protect themselves against wayward and greedy pinners. They have released code which will allow websites to prevent material from being plastered on the Pinterest social pinboard without regard.
The code, accessible through the site's help page, works this way. An unauthorized pinner will see a message stating, "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!" The violating pinner will see this when the code has been added to the copyright holder's site.
Pinterest obviously acknowledges that its site could be used to violate copyright holders rights and it doesn't want trouble. Can you blame it? It has also received commentary from site owners who didn't want their material to be shared so it had to do something. Though some were not upset to see material shared, they were upset that attribution sometimes was lost in the pinning; it was as if their work was flying into space and no credit would ever be given that it was theirs, threatening by extension to the most absurd conclusion, the ultimate and ridiculous possibility of a courtroom Solomon's decision.(For some having to go to court to prove one's ownership is worse, especially if they have no up front fees to pay lawyers.)
So Pinterest has introduced this code at the right time, because the members (potential violators) seem to be growing exponentially. Daily users increased by 145pc starting January, 2012. According to reports, Pinterest logged 10m US monthly drop, ins the largest number of any independent website in history. And where there are users, the brands pile on, now over 100 of them in the past three months. The site has raised $37.5 million during that time frame.
With those legs, co-founder Ben Silbermann wants to do everything in his power to make things nicey-nice for site users, especially copyright holders. Come on. It's the savvy thing to do in order to ride the tide out into the deep sea of prosperity. His flexibility and readiness to deal with user issues carries with it good signs that the Pinterest ship is going to be cruising with the wind to its back for a very long time.
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