Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Copyright Culture of Pinterest

Since I am using Pinterest as my curation tool, I wanted to look into the issue of Pinterest's copyrights. It's kind of a mess, not going to lie.
Courtesy of Pinterest-Anti-Christ from commons.wikimedia.org

Just looking at the terms of service this is what the user agrees to when they pin their own stuff:
How Pinterest and other users can use your content
You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. 
So, if you put it up for use on your own Pinterest account, just know it has a pretty open creative commons license. Not bad, right?

Well, here comes the problem. People are normally not pinning their own content on Pinterest. It's mostly other people's stuff.  In this article, it was published last year and is a little bit outdated but bear with me, it states that Pinterest's old Terms of Service used to include an agreement that the Pinner either owned the copyright or had the appropriate permissions to pin the content. Does that happen or did that ever happen when using Pinterest? I don't think so. (People like to skip over the Terms of Service without reading it, myself included.) Pinning things may bring PR to a product, but it may draw attention away from the actual company or it is reusing an image over and over with no permission, which I guess it where the harm is coming in. There are several gripes about this like the aforementioned article and this one here.

Since then, Pinterest has taken steps to rectify the problems it is having with copyright issues. On the current Terms of Service, it simplifies the legalese talk so it's easier to understand; It makes it clear that if you put stuff up on Pinterest, people can use and modify your content (although, it doesn't look like it is for commercial purposes at all); Pinterest aids those that feel their copyright has been violated; and Pinterest has also made a deal with Getty images to make sure that when their images are used, they will get proper attribution (for more details, click here).

This is very complicated to me, but I think I get why it is. Not everyone realizes that they are violating a copyright when they pin something onto their pinboards without permission. I didn't even realize it until a few days ago to be perfectly honest with you.

So what are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think the copyright ignorance is ok in this case or does Pinterest need to help their users be more aware (such as sending out emails) of the copyright laws?