Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pinterest & Copyright Laws: Discuss

"Hello, my name is Kari, and I am a Pinterest addict." 

(image from

I don't often mention it to people, but I'm totally in love with Pinterest!  At times, it's bordered on unhealthy, but I try to keep my obsession in check.  It's just a website, afterall.  When I need something to pass my time, particularly when I'm in a doctor's office waiting room or sitting impatiently between periods at a hockey game, pinning is my favorite pasttime.  I also pin at home, during my lunch hour at work, and while my husband and his buddies watch wrestling.  This activity has escalated since I discovered the iPhone app so I can literally pin from anywhere.  I've been using Pinterest for about 6 or 7 months, and I was the first of my friends to discover this glorious site.  I'm happy to report that I've made them all believers! 

I get some great home decorating ideas from there, as well as fun recipes, pictures of cute baby animals (my kryptonite) and craft how-to's.  I have pinned things from my favorite blogs and repin things my friends have found that I know I can't live without.  I've tried a couple of recipes that turned out to be duds, but so many others have been resounding winners.  It's been a fun resource and a great way to share ideas and favorite websites.

Yesterday, my husband sent me a link to this article from Business that really opened my eyes to the risks associated with using Pinterest.  I'll give you the Reader's Digest version of it:  Essentially, you, the pinner, could be held liable for pinning/"sharing" copyrighted images on your Pinterest boards.  A photographer (or whoever owns an image), could sue you for copyright infringement, and you as the pinner would be forced to pay their legal costs, attorney's fees, etc. on top of damages for using an image that belongs to someone else.  Holy crap.  This could add up to a lot of money when you consider how many pins the average user someone like me has on their pin boards.

The article likens Pinterest to Napster, saying that the site facilitates the sharing of property that doesn't belong to us.  The difference I see between Napster and Pinterest is that with Napster, the user had to upload music from CDs, which then were offered to others who took the property without paying for it.  On Pinterest, the images are already shared on the internet, but users can link the images to a common site that essentially shares links to other websites.  The image sells the site.  Granted, the pinner isn't paying the owner for their use of the picture in creating the link, but the picture is already out there, shared with the world.

The thing about Pinterest that's also different is that most blogs and websites LOVE for their images to be shared because it generates interest in their sites.  It generates traffic, which can increase followers, subscribers and customers.  Pinterest also encourages website owners to put compelling photos on their sites, which can help increase pins, which in turn drives even more traffic.  I don't know that a lot of people really want Pinterest shut down because of the good it can create.

What do you think about this?  Do you think the risks of pinning outweigh the benefits?  Do you think there's any real risk at all?

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Never really thought of this hmmmm, interesting! I would hope this doesn't happen though I love Pinterest :-(

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I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

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