Some Rules to Follow When Using Pinterest

Founded in 2009, Pinterst is BIG and here to stay. In February alone, Pinterest attracted 17.8 million unique users. As a matter of fact, I see at least one of my Facebook friends is getting on Pinterest every day.

People use Pinterest to share “collective ideas” on their pin boards, such as recipes, fashion, d├ęcor, and tourist destinations. For companies like restaurants and hotels, Pinterest is a great place to show case their products and services and draw traffics to their websites. Usually, it is not an issue if a user takes a picture and posts it on their pin board(s). The legal issue may arise when users share a picture or video that is produced and owned by somebody else. Accordingly, Therese Poletti at the Wall Street Journal provides some rules that users should follow:

  • The safest way (especially for companies) is to pin the content that is created by the user or anything that the user owns the copyrights.
  • Old photos that are dated in 1923 or before are safe.
  • Posting a picture for recipes is fine “as long as you are creating the text of the recipe yourself” --- if one has cooked something with their own recipe, I actually feel it is safer to just go ahead and take a picture on his/her own.
  • One must not have any intension of trying to profit off somebody else’s work if others’ picture or video are used --- companies may find it difficult to justify if they are pinning others’ work without giving the content owners the credit.
  • Never claim somebody else’s work is the user’s own work.

The legal issues of sharing content on the internet could be very complicated. On one hand, people or companies may want others to “share” their content for publicity purposes; on the other hand, the content owners also want to protect their intellectual properties. Individual users may find it easier to justify that they have no intention of making profits out of the content they share on the internet. Actually, Pinterest enables users to give credits to the original sources by capturing the hyperlinks of where the pictures or videos come from. If I were running a Pinterest account for a company, however, I will be very careful by only posting something that the company created or owns the copyrights.

Are you on Pinterest? What are you experience with the website? If you share things on the internet but do not have the copyrights, what do you do to protect yourself from being sued by the content owners?

References:
Therese Poletti, 2012, March 14. Is Pinterest the next Napster? The Wall Street Journal, pp. B4. Also available online.

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