Class pictures, ticket stubs, and quotes cover-scattered bulletin boards in bedrooms and lockers all over the U.S. If you could share anything on that board with people all over the Internet, what would it be? Pinterest, a web-based image-sharing network, allows people to do just that. This virtual bulletin board allows its users to “pin” images and share ideas with other users. One of the founders, Ben Silbermann, feels that the site has filled an idea-sharing void. Silbermann said, “Once you know what you want, Google or Amazon will take care of it. But if you don’t know what you want and you want to discover, I don’t think there are very good solutions.” Pinterest appeals largely to do-it-yourselves, brides-to-be, stay-at-home-moms, and cooks.
This site that has recently blown up might have legal issues though. Attorney and photographer Kirsten Kowalski deleted her inspirational board after realizing legal issues with the site. The problem is that people who pin are agreeing that they are the owners of the photos or ideas. Molly DiBianca, an attorney with Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, says that's how it is. "At the moment, there is very little that can be done to avoid infringing copyright if you are a Pinterest user," she says. "The only way to pin pictures without violating the site's terms of service and the picture owner's copyright is to only pin pictures that you've taken yourself." This is also included in “re-pinning” images.
A few things have kept Pinterest from becoming another Napster case though. When pinning for image, they ask you to “describe” your pin. This in essence lets you express a view on the original work. Pinterest should change “describe” to “comment” though. “Pinterest should instead change the prompt to “Comment on your pin…”. That way users would be encouraged to provide a “transformative” (as it’s referred to in the case law).” This will help them win a fair use case even more. Pinterest is still struggling with legal things, but a few changes could help them out.
It’s important to realized copyright and user laws even when dealing with an online site. Many photographers and authors sought to use Pinterest to promote their work, but "According to the Pinterest terms of service, you release all rights you have in a picture once you pin it.”