Perils of the Pinterest “Pin It” Button

Are you putting yourself at risk by using Pinterest?

The Pin It Button is a feature that enables users to pin images from any website and attach it to one of their pinboards. This ability to acquire any image, however, has led to some copyright issues arising and Pinterest having to re-design the “grab anything” nature of the button.

Pinterest currently has a “safe harbor” status from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This effectively protects Pinterest against copyright infringement liability, provided they meet specific requirements. Importantly, however, Pinterest users are not granted this safe harbor status, so are liable to prosecution for posting copyrighted images.

This potential legal time bomb threatened to undermine the very ethos of Pinterest – allowing users to create dynamic and unique pinboards compiled from a whole host of sources.

Pinterest have made some changes to mitigate the risk of any damaging copyright lawsuits. Pinterest now state on their website that “when you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator.” In February 2012, Pinterest also released a “nopin” HTML metatag permitting websites to block their images from being pinned. This code has since been implemented by Flickr, previously a major source of images which were pinned without the permission of the original owner.

These adjustments to the Pin It Button have protected Pinterest and its users from lawsuits over copyright infringement thus far, though it remains to be seen what is being done, and indeed what can be done, about users who simply re-upload work that is not their property.

Photo by net_efekt


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