Pinterest’s Terms of Service – An Update

There has been much debate since the Pinterest terms of service controversy broke.

Some copyright specialists believe that the copyright issue is a red herring due to the transformative nature of the posts. Carolyn Elefant does a nice job of explaining this in a comment in which she disagrees with my initial post on the subject as far as copyright law goes.

I have read posts that agree with my analysis, and posts that disagree with my analysis. So what does that mean? I guess it means reasonable minds can differ on the issue. Since I am not a copyright expert, I will leave the continued debate on the overall issue of copyright and pinning to those folks.

What was I really worried about?

Pinterest placed the financial responsibility for all of this pinning on its users. At the same time, it discouraged self promotion and encouraged users to post other people’s stuff.

Pinterest stated it had a right to sell that content and that it could keep the content forever, regardless of whether the person who posted it deleted her account.

Pinterest did not have an easy way for copyright owners to send it take down notices.

Pinterest makes some changes.

Pinterest has changed its etiquette, it no longer discourages people from posting their own stuff. It also made its terms of service as far as copyright violation clearer. Pinterest still has users indemnifying it, but the language has been softened somewhat. Big improvements.

Pinterest removed the bit about having the right to sell content, and also, changed how long it will keep information after users delete their accounts. Excellent.

Pinterest has created an easy way for copyright owners to report infringement. Perfect.

Where can you read about the updated terms?

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the new terms here, and CBS news takes a look here.  Read the new terms of service here.

Kudos to Pinterest

Pinterest experienced its first controversy and it handled it pretty well. It listened to its users and it responded. Am I completely satisfied that Pinterest isn’t violating copyright law? Well, no, I’m not. But then again, the same can be said about Facebook and any other site that enables easy sharing of others images. It is simply the case that Pinterest’s whole business surrounds the sharing of images, so that makes it a big target. Also, Pinterest makes sharing images so easy, which, of course, is the point.

YouTube ran into the same issue with people sharing copyright video and ended up with a huge lawsuit before it really dealt with the issue. I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone somewhere decides to sue Pinterest too, but at least it can say it is trying.

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