Doctors warned me not to fall asleep with my newborn baby beside me at night. Co-sleeping they called it. But, night after night of minimal shuteye due to a hungry baby who needed to eat every three hours, co-sleeping was so tempting. Until I found the solution to keep me awake (often longer than anticipated). Pinterest.
What is Pinterest?
For the uninitiated, Pinterest is essentially an online bulletin board system that lets users “pin” pictures that they like or want to keep close by for the future, just like the bulletin board you have at home. Some use Pinterest when they’re preparing for a special event, like a wedding, as a place to save ideas for flowers and centerpieces.
A great idea with one big drawback. The site depends on people “pinning” pictures (often pictures that do not belong to them) that they find on the Web. This is where the service runs into some legality problems and the copyright clouds begin to gather.
Photographers on sites like iStock have been crying foul that their pictures are being used without permission in pins and repins.
To address those and other similar concerns, Pinterest recently established a “no-pin” policy which allows websites to block users from pinning their images.
Copyright, policies and protection
One important thing to note: Pinterest is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which protects websites from liability for content uploaded by their users as long as they promptly remove the content when requested by the original content owner. This is the same law that protects sites like Facebook or YouTube from being sued when a user uploads copyrighted material. The only difference is, Pinterest’s business is based almost entirely on using images without permission. This could lead it to lose its protection under the DMCA.
The company could implement a similar system YouTube uses regarding eliminating specific videos and marking a strike on that individual’s account. However, users will balk if their image boards become spotted with copyright removal notices. A “future wedding board” isn’t very effective when the images aren’t there.
So, how can brands still take advantage of the ever-popular Pinterest?
“First, only pin and re-pin images that your brand owns or has appropriately licensed.” Brian Heidelberger, partner and chair at the entertainment law practice of Winston & Strawn says. Yes, this may limit your ability to pin and re-pin content found on Pinterest to your company’s brand page. And remember, Pinterest’s MO is about what is visually appealing. Don’t just pin for the sake of pinning. Think about what your audience wants to see and learn visually and pin images that reflect those needs. Keep the
Overall, Pinterest has a good business model that is creating both interest and revenue. In the past, large social networks have focused on user growth instead of making money. Twitter and Facebook went years before doing any advertising. Pinterest, however, is breaking from this mold. For example, if a user posts a pin to Pinterest and it links to an e-commerce site, Pinterest modifies the link to add their own tracking code. Long story short, if someone clicks through the picture from Pinterest and makes a purchase, Pinterest gets paid.
Tread lightly on Pinterest. It may be the hottest new social media craze, but make sure you understand the legal ramifications and your accountability as it relates to your brand’s Pinterest boards. You don’t want to go breaking any copyright laws, now, do you?