A Lawyer Who Is Also A Photographer Just Deleted All Her Pinterest Boards Out Of Fear
A woman named Kirsten decided to look into the legality of Pinterest. After all, she's a lawyer with a passion for photography.
What she found scared her so much, she shut down her Pinterest boards entirely.
Kirsten's investigation began after she saw photographers complaining about copyright violations on Facebook. She wondered why Facebook could get in trouble for copyright violation and Pinterest couldn't.
"I immediately thought of the ridiculously gorgeous images I had recently pinned from an outside website, and, while I gave the other photographer credit, I most certainly could not think of any way that I either owned those photos or had a license, consent or release from the photographer who owned them," Kirsten writes.
Pinterest encourages repinning community photos though, so Kirsten found it hard to believe the act was unlawful. She continued to dig.
Kirsten turned to federal copyright laws and found a section on fair use. Copyrighted work can only be used without permission when someone is criticizing it, commenting on it, reporting on it, teaching about it, or conducting research. Repinning doesn't fall under any of those categories.
The one glimmer of hope for Pinterest, Kirsten writes, is the outcome of Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corporation. In that case, a photographer sued a search engine. The search engine won because it used thumbnail images in its results, not the entire work.
Thumbnails aren't always fair use, however. They're only fair use if the necessary portion of the work is copied and nothing more. Pinterest, however, lifts the entire image from the original source which is not ok.
“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.”
What's more, Pinterest places all blame and potential legal fees on its users. It writes:
"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.”
Basically, if a photographer sues you for pinning an image illegally on Pinterest, the user must not only pay for his or her lawyer, they must also pay for Pinterest's lawyer. In addition, the defendant must pay all charges against him or herself, along with all of Pinterest's charges.
Kirsten likens Pinterest to Napster as an enabler of illegal activity. It wasn't just Napster that went down -- 12 year old girls who downloaded music were sued too.
"My initial response is probably the same as most of yours: 'Why [can't I pin their work]? I’m giving them credit and it’s only creating more exposure for them and I LOVE when people pin my stuff!' But then I realized, I was unilaterally making the decision FOR that other photographer...Bottom line is that it is not my decision to make. Not legally and not ethically."
Story Follow up:
Pinterest's Cofounder: We're Still Trying To Figure Out Copyright Laws
Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann responded to a lawyer who removed some of her pinboards out of fear of copyright infringement.
In a new blog post, the lawyer named "Kristen," said Silbermann was still trying to figure out an effective solution to avoid copyright infringement on the site.
Silbermann said "some changes are on the way in the very near future," she said. So, it looks like Pinterest is doing something to assess questions about whether the site is infringing on copyright.
Pinterest lets you "pin" images from other sites onto a virtual pinboard. But by pinning images, you might be infringing on ownership of those images by photographers or other artists who might not want their work shared.
A little more than a week ago, a lawyer named Kirsten wrote a blog post about how she deleted some of her pinboards because she browsed Pinterest's terms of service and found that the Pinners are solely responsible for content they pin to the site.
The story went viral, so Silbermann called her up. Things went pretty well.
"Alright, maybe that’s not a “date-date” but it WAS a phone date to discuss Pinterest and the concerns I raised in my last blog post. And it went well. He didn’t yell at me. He didn’t accuse me of being a hater," she wrote in a new post.
She wrote that Silbermann told her he was "basically a guy with a computer who had a vision" who "knows there are issues with Pinterest and the fear of claims of copyright infringement."
Silbermann asked her for suggestions on how to clarify the terms of service for Pinterest, she wrote.
"He wants to figure out a way to make “his little web page” (which he said his Dad calls it — I thought that was cute) work within the confines of the law AND in a way where photographers and every user feels comfortable," she wrote.