An extra smackeral from me this week--about something I felt so strongly about that I didn't want to wait to share it till next week.
I admit, I love Pinterest. I love how it’s been a place of pure attraction. And I have been a super-avid Pinner.
But when the Boston Business Journal decided to stop using Pinterest out of fear it could be sued for infringing Copyright, I decided to take my own deeper look. Deep thanks to my fabulous client, Jude Rush, for sharing the BBJ decision with me!
I read the Terms of Service (TOS) that every Pinterest user agrees to be bound by when creating an account, and part of it stopped me in my tracks and got me to call my attorney for his take on it (which is the same as mine).
It’s the following part which spells out what they can do with what people pin:
We may, in our sole discretion, permit Members to post, upload, publish, submit or transmit Member Content. By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.
Mainly problematic for me was this: “…you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”
Now, Cold Brew Labs may not have any intent to do anything at all with what I post—at least at this time and as far forward as they can see, but by having made this click-wrap agreement with them in creating an account, each of gives them the ability to do a whole bunch of stuff with it.
So, if you’re posting your own graphics and/or images, as I sometimes do, or as Karen Salmonsohn does, or as any number of artists and brands do, the agreement is really a problem for many reasons. Pinterest can sell, modify, adapt, sublicense….you get the idea.
As I said, whether they intend to isn’t the issue. It’s that we each give them the right to.
I know we’ve all agreed to their TOS without paying a lick of attention to this. We all always do. NO ONE reads the TOS. And really, we all should.
Further, there’s a responsibility clause that says:
You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.
Of course, no one should be violating anyone’s copyright in what’s being pinned, but in addition to saying that, what Pinterest says, in part, about Pinterest Etiquette is this:
Credit Your Sources
Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source. If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry.
And honestly? For the usual user, that says it’s ok to pin whatever is found as long as the source is credited. And it’s not. You can LINK to original content (and even that has been the subject of much debate in the copyright world), but you can’t download an image, upload it as a pin, and credit the source and have that be ok in copyright world.
And I know people are doing that on Pinterest all the time. I’ve even done it without thinking. Something doesn’t pin right the other way? There’s more than one way to get it done… just download it, upload it, and credit it.
So, given all of this, here’s what I’m left with if I want to use Pinterest.
- I can repin.
- I can find stuff on the Internet that I can pin directly from the site with a link back to the content created during the pinning.
I’m not posting anything of my own because I don’t care to grant Cold Brew Labs a “a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”
At the end of the day, pinning is not as light-hearted and love-filled as I originally thought. We should all take care with what we’re pinning, and those with original work who care to protect it should especially pay attention.
Will I continue to use Pinterest? As a viewer, for sure. What’s being pinned is still as lovely as it was before I dove into the TOS and discovered what I shared with you. But I’m not certain that I’ll keep my own account, because I now feel constrained (always have been, but now my self-imposed blinders are off and I see things differently) in a way I don’t like.
In the meantime, while I consider what I want to do, I've deleted all my Pinterest pin boards. It seemed a lot easier to do that than to go in and cull each one to remove my own images and any possible copyright infringement I may have inadvertantly committed.
A friend asked me whether I'll stand up and fight against this. Nope. In my view, Pinterest's attorneys created what they believe best protects Pinterest (although my attorney isn't certain that, given the way it's written, it would hold up in court), and Pinterest has the right to require users to agree to it. I'm just not certain I want to agree to it anymore.
How about you? Will you stay--or sign up if you're not already there? And what will you share with your clients about what they should be considering about Pinterest?