Copyright Law

Pin with Caution, Says Lawyer Who Deleted All Her Pinterest Posts


Updated: Pinterest is a great place to find new ideas for almost every topic imaginable, but if you’re posting images of those ideas, you’d better have permission, says a lawyer who recently deleted all her posts.

Pinterest, a social sharing website where users “pin” things they like on “boards,” launched in 2010. It’s been reported that the site draws around 11 million visitors monthly.

Kirsten Kowalski, a Georgia attorney and photographer, detailed her decision on her photography blog, DDK Portraits. According to her post, Pinterest’s terms of use agreement states that users are responsible for member content they make available, and either accordingly own the content or have consent from the items’ owners.

“I immediately thought of the ridiculously gorgeous images I had recently pinned from an outside website and, while I gave the other photographer credit right in my pin … I most certainly could not think of any way that I either owned those photos or had license, consent or release from the photographers who owned them,” Kowalski wrote.

Also, Business Insider reports, Pinterest’s terms of service holds users responsible for legal fees should litigation arise. Kowalski notes that Pinterest reserves the right to prosecute users for copyright violations.

“Basically, Pinterest has its keester covered and have shifted all of the risk to you,” she wrote. “Smart of them, actually since the courts are still deciding whether the site owner or the user owner should be ultimately responsible. Rather than wait for the decision, they have contractually made you the responsible one. And you agreed.”

Since Kowalski’s initial post, Ben Silbermann, Pinterest’s founder, reached out to her by phone. Kowalski wrote in a Feb. 29 post that they chatted for more than an hour, and according to Kowalski, Silbermann asked her for suggestions about improving the site’s TOS agreement.

“All in all, it was a great conversation, and he assured me that some changes are on the way in the very near future,” she wrote.

No word as of yet on whether Kowalski has reposted her inspiration boards.

Updated on March 1 include information from subsequent DDK Portraits post.

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