Will Marketers Get Their Ears Pinned back with Pinterest? A brief lesson in copyright ownership.

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September 20, 2012

If you are using Pinterest for business purposes, consider the ramifications. There are copyright laws that apply to all pins.

While many companies and artists ignore copyright violations, the companies or individuals that sue usually win. Copyright violations can be quite costly, running from $750 upwards to $150,000. One website owner recently paid $4,000 in damages for using a $10 stock photo without permission even though they removed the photo promptly after receiving a takedown notice. (Source:  Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations,

If you’re on the fence about using Pinterest as a promotional strategy for your business, know that the only fool-proof way to build boards is with original content and photos your company owns or has gained written approval to use.

Pinterest’s Terms of Use

Pinterest’s terms of use clearly state that anything you post is yours to use exclusively or that you have obtained the rights or license to use it.

“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; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services 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…”

Even more inhibiting, Pinterest’s terms of use also state that you are giving Pinterest permission to distribute, sublicense, and sell your posted content. Its terms go as far to give Pinterest the rights to use, copy, and adapt your content. In short this means Pinterest can replace affiliate links you’ve embedded with ones that earn money for Pinterest. (SOURCE:  GreekGeek)

Pinning for Profits Not Pleasure

Businesses are not protected by Pinterest’s terms. As a business you are on Pinterest to promote your business. Any businesses’ use of content or repining is considered marketing.

If you’re posting another artist’s image or content without permission, he or she deserves compensation according to copyright laws. Many politicians learned this lesson the hard way during the last presidential election when many played pop music that wasn’t licensed to them. The outcome was tens of thousands of dollars paid in penalties.

The safest way to use Pinterest is to post a steady stream of your own content, according to Brian Heidelberger law partner at Advertising, Marketing and Entertainment Law Practice of Winston & Strawn.

For this reason, many companies are leaving the pinning for personal users during off hour.  CMOs are carefully considering their position regarding Pinterest and many have simply decided the liability to their brand is not worth the effort.

If I’ve rained on your promotional parade or made you rethink your current pinning strategy, consider the plight of the artists, photographers, and content creators who loose revenue when their content is used without permission and goes viral.

Blogger and photographer Amy Locurto’s friend and fellow creative found that only five in 100 copies of her heart cake photo and recipe were credited back to her.

On Pinterest, once you pin, that pin becomes the rights of Pinterest and all control is lost of crediting it back to the you yet all the liability remains on your shoulders – you first pinned it you are responsible for it.

Pinterest writes:

“You acknowledge and agree that, to the maximum extent permitted by law, the entire risk arising out of your access to and use of the site, application, services and site content remains with you.”

This is why one lawyer who is also a photographer removed all her Pinterest boards. Will you do the same?

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