Pinterest: copyright-abusing image piracy or Fair Use?

copyright symbolflickr/MikeBlogs

Hot social media site Pinterest allows users to "pin" images to their page. But are those images copyright violations?

The Pinterest Terms of Service, as explained by photographer and lawyer Kirstin Kowalski, shifts all legal blame for copyright violations to users. Since the Pinterest process is to collect images users find rather than create, their entire business model seems to some as illegal as music and video pirates.

Arguing for the other side, Fair Use guidelines seem to allow low-res thumbnail photos, and the use of images for education and satire. But since "inspiration boards" often use high-res images, they could be getting into legally hotter water. If challenged, Pinterest can follow DMCA takedown rules to avoid liability, and point lawyers directly to the user who posted the content.

Copyright abuser

Of course it is.

Catherine Ann Fitzpatrick on

It’s like everything of the WWW. Everything on it is basically copy write and we don’t have any authority to use any of it!

Dawn on

I see an alarming amount of ‘sharing’/'pinning’ etc. that does not even mention original source.

Kathleen Neff on

Etsy added a “Pin it” button to all of our shop items, without any kind of public announcement or agreement with us. I’m extremely annoyed with that, since there is no way for us to deactivate it, and I do not want my art on Pinterest at all.

Valerie G on

Fair Use all the way

Google was actually sued over image search and won — the 9th Circuit found that the search functionality was a transformative fair use. The images were no longer being used for entertainment, for for the retrieval of information.

Nilay Patel on

I think people feel like it has to be legal – they couldn’t do it otherwise. But I have a feeling we’d all better be taking this seriously.

Marta on

Who would be against this? All it will do is increase traffic to your website, and if it’s a product – increase your sales.

thisismynextname on

Please abuse me

I have many of my photos from my websites on Pinterest and have a link to my I do not complain.

Stacey Woods Pettibone on

Copyright laws are outdated and are not able to keep up with the times we live in.

courtois on

Comment below either A) Pinterest is legal and I'm not worried, or B) if it's not legal, no one will sue me.

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