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Pinterest: the New Napster?

Pinterest became a clear player in the social media game in late 2011 and in recent months has spread faster than you can say “viral.” The virtual pin board site started out as an innovative way for type-A social media fanatics to keep track of interesting fodder on the internet in an organized fashion. However, what began as an innocent start-up is now becoming the new Napster and may be going down faster than it arrived, taking uninformed users with it.

Like Napster in the early 2000’s, Pinterest has recently been under fire for copyright violations. By facilitating the pinning and repinning of images lifted from websites, Pinterest is now being compared to their musical predecessor, which also provided an attractive platform that enabled illegal activities. There has also been a rise in social conversations comparing the legalese of Pinterest to Napster in the past thirty days. Our social media monitoring platform shows blogs and forums as the most popular channels for these conversations.

 

The most alarming similarity is, like Napster, if Pinterest gets sued, members will find they are not only responsible for any copyright violations found on their pin boards, but will also be held accountable for any potential legal fees. This means in the case of a lawsuit, users must employ their own lawyer as well as legal representation for Pinterest.

Although it’s hard to believe harmless pinning can be charged as unlawful, a quick glance at Pinterest’s Terms of Use section will show that the site directly addresses copyright issues while placing all liability for violations on users. The policy section explicitly states that members hold sole accountability for images they pin and repin and are obliged to obtain permission from the owners of everything they post.

Furthermore, Pinterest emphasizes in all caps:

“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.”

In response to the heat from lawyers and critics, Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann called up one influential blogging lawyer and told her he is “basically a guy with a computer who had a vision” and he “knows there are issues with Pinterest and the fear of claims of copyright infringement.” If Silbermann is well-aware of the copyright issues surrounding his addictive online community, then what is being done to solve it? The answer remains unknown.

Bottom line, it looks like Pinterest users should be ‘pinning’ on pins and needles until these questions of legality get sorted out once and for all.

Tags : social media

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