Copyright Infringement: Could Popular New Social Media Website Pinterest Get “Pegged?”

Pinterest, a social networking website that allows users to create a virtual bulletin board of their favorite online content, is rapidly gaining popularity. Unique visits to the website reportedly topped 11.7 million in January. However, questions have surfaced about whether Pinterest could be held liable for copyright infringement by encouraging the unauthorized sharing of protected images and videos.

To address these concerns, Pinterest recently adopted new policies that allow websites to “opt out.” Copyright holders that do not want their content featured on Pinterest can now block their content by adding a line of code to their website. Pinterest users that try to share images or other material from a blocked site will receive the following message: “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

Co-founder Ben Silbermann also used the company’s blog to reinforce that the company takes copyright infringement seriously. He noted, “We work hard to follow the DMCA procedure for acting quickly when we receive notices of claimed copyright infringement.” The blog post highlights that Pinterest offers a form for reporting claims of copyright violations on their site.

As I have previously discussed on this blog, file sharing sites that take a proactive approach to copyright infringement usually fare better should problems later arise. In this situation, Pinterest has taken steps to reduce its potential liability by giving copyright holders ways to both block and remove copyrighted content.

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One thought on “Copyright Infringement: Could Popular New Social Media Website Pinterest Get “Pegged?”

  1. The steps taken by Pinterest make a mockery of copyright. They are laughable.

    (1) The whole model is to pin images found on website, that are presumably not your own, and re-pinning images, that are presumably not your own either. Full-size images are hosted on Pinterest’s servers, making it difficult to detect infringement through hotlinking.

    (2) The opt-out code is ridiculous. Some webmasters have static pages and cannot add this code manually to thousands of pages. Pinterest will SAY that the code only needs to be put on the index page, but this is a lie, and it does not work. There are now at least 100 Pinterest clones. Will we have to opt out of all of them?

    (3) The DMCA take-down interface on Pinterest needs to be done image by image. While it allows submission of mutliple infractions, one mistake and all the data that is entered is reset to zero! Talk about making things difficult.

    (4) Finding infringing material on Pinterest takes a lot of time and reseach.

    (5) Legally, in terns of fair use, Pinterest and its clones can only use thumbnails. As soon as they are taking in full-size images, they are nothing but petty internet pirates kicking sand in the faces of the third parties whose content they exploit without permission.

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