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Bizarre Pinterest Terms of Service?

Pinterest terms of service

Pinterest's terms of service have recently changed (on November 14th 2012). The terms are a contract between Pinterest and the people who are account holders (members). I suspect the change is because a lot of disgruntled people were chatting in a critical way about the terms on blogs and social media sites.

in this post, I am addressing the new and improved terms and they seem bizarre to me. It seems they are struggling to get the contract correct, which does not surprise me because the basic model upon which the website is built is flawed in my opinion. It does not respect intellectual property rights sufficiently or hardly at all. Pinterest depends on a certain amount of copyright violation.

We know that a lot or most of the photos on Pinterest are pinned there - uploaded and posted - by people who neither created the photos nor have any rights in them. This activity is facilitated by Pinterest because it provides code that a website owner can use on his site which allows visitors to lift photos off the site and pin them on Pinterest. Then Pinterest allows people to re-pin these photos.

Note: website owners can put some code on their site which blocks the use of the Pin It button but do website owners know about it or do they know how to use it? Also this code does not stop people downloading images from a site and uploading them from their computer's desktop.

In summary, the company expects that a photo created and owned by Mr. A will be uploaded to Pinterest by Mr B and copied and moved around Pinterest by Mr C and embedded on another website by Mr D.

Mr B, Mr C and Mr D have no rights in the photo and it is not their content. The content (the photo) belongs to Mr A. And Mr A has no idea what is happening and has not granted any rights to B, C and D.

Yet bizarrely at Pinterest's Terms of Serivice clause 2, which is headed "Your Content" it states that...
If you post your content on Pinterest, it still belongs to you but we can show it to people and others can re-pin it.
So Pinterest is saying in the terms of service that the content that is posted on their site belongs to the person who uploaded it. But we know this often does not happen. And, as mentioned, Pinterest encourages people who have no rights in the content to post it on Pinterest.

Clause 2 goes on to say that a person who posts content (usually photos) on Pinterest grants to Pinterest and other users total freedom to do as they please with the photos. Once they are on the site you can kiss copyright protection goodbye unless you complain and get the content deleted. That is very troublesome for the copyright holder. So, when they say the content "still belongs to you" it is meaningless because you have no control over it.

The terms completely annihilate intellectual property rights. Pinterest encourages and expects people who have no right in a photo to post it on their site where it becomes public property. They say "We respect copyrights. You should, too."

Notice the word "should". They should have used "must".

The company limits its liability to $100 under any circumstances. "IN NO EVENT SHALL PINTEREST'S AGGREGATE LIABILITY EXCEED ONE HUNDRED U.S. DOLLARS (U.S. $100.00)."

There you have it. Some bizarre Pinterest Terms of Service that simply do not stack up and bear no relation to what actually happens and which Pinterest expects to happen.

People with websites who have photographic content on their site that they want to be protected by copyright must not put the pin it button on their site. If they do they are, without knowing it, potentially putting their protected images into the public domain and they'll never get them back.

The big boys of the internet don't like copyright because it gets in the way of the use of social media sites. It is also a barrier to the viral-like spreading and expansion of the internet that these big companies want to happen as it expands their business. Copyright is under huge pressure at the moment from the internet. Pinterest erodes it.

Although Google do have a decent complaint service. I expect that Google receives millions of complaints regarding intellectual property violations and are probably drowning in them. Something needs to happen that stops it (i.e. proactive action) as opposed to removing it (reactive action).

Note 2: My apologies to cat lovers who want to see and read about cat stuff. However, sometimes website owners have to stand up against the big sites because they tend to walk all over the smaller sites run by individuals.


Anonymous said…
I'm glad you wrote about this site, Michael. I've been thinking about starting a business account with Pinterest, because I've been selling items on Other TpT sellers suggest using Pinterest as a way to direct people to your TpT store. The sellers suggesting this are very successful, and they say it really helped. My content is about half worksheets and the other half educational songs, similar to the song I wrote about Simon, Able Seacat, which you posted on PoC. I don't know what exactly I would put on Pinterest, since it seems primarily to be about photos. I found Pinterest's terms of service to be weird also. I own my content, but on the other hand I'm giving permission for everyone to just take it and repost it wherever they want? It seems contradictory. But if I really want to market my stuff-- especially the music-- maybe I have to use Pinterest to do it.
I recently read that the internet makes it possible for people with a niche talent to really make money from it in a way that has never been possible before. I write music for use in schools and for kid's choirs. The big publishing houses are just overwhelmed with submissions and even if you get published, you make almost no money and the publishing house now owns your work. Bad deal, I think. There is great power in using the Internet to market creative content, but I think you have to be very careful that it doesn't just end up out there for free all over the place. However, maybe I'm in such a little niche market, something only certain teachers are ever going to be interested in, that I don't have to worry about many people circulating my stuff and not paying for it. It's also true that it could be good having your material reach more people, so they can know what you're about. However, if it's available for free, most people will only take the freebie. I'm finding that since TpT requires that you provide some free items. People take the freebie, but not many come back and buy similar items. I'd appreciate your thoughts, if you have any.
Ruth (Monty's Mom)

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