Friday, April 6, 2012

Worried About Posting on Pinterest

Dear Rich: I'm advising homeowners and real estate agents  about Pinterest and I guess the question to you is whether Pinterest users should be concerned about copyright. Is it a matter of just crediting the source or is there more to it than that? And do you see this being an issue for either the creators of content or those who are reposting it? Pinterest recently revised its Terms of Service (effective tomorrow, I think) but some people say it didn't really change anything. Copyright owners are like grizzly bears. If you're not on their radar and you're not depriving them of  food, they'll probably leave you alone. (We know our analogies suck but we can't stop ourselves). Anyway, that's probably true for most Pinterest users, too -- nothing is going to happen to them unless they attract a lot of attention or start making money off other people's content. (At that point, you may soon get an email from Getty Images.) Of course every copyright owner has a right to stop unauthorized postings (and let's not forget that we were once threatened after reposting the most obscure clip art). But generally, size matters when it comes to copyright infringement and owners prefer to go after infringements generating the most hits and ad revenue. More importantly, as Pinterest grows, so will the arrangements it makes with content providers -- much like YouTube eventually placated and monetized most uses of sound recordings.
What about the real estate angle? You refer to real estate agents and we assume their use is related to photos of property and architecture. We've addressed related issues here, here and here. As for the terms of use, it appears as if Pinterest users must credit their source. That's swell and respectful of the photographers and artists but it won't get you off the hook for infringement. Finally, if your photos are the object of a DMCA takedown notice at Pinterest, here's an article that explains how to respond.