Can an Interest in Pinterest Get You Sued?

March 15, 2012 | By | Comments (4)

I like to pin pretty pictures on my online bulletin boards as much as the next Pinterest user.  And I love it when people “like” my choices or repin them. But not everyone feels the same way.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal raised the question of whether you can get into trouble for pinning images you don’t own or have permission to use. If you violate copyright laws, you may be sued, the piece pointed out.

This is an interesting issue. After all,  the vast majority of pins – more than 80 percent, in fact –are not uploads of new photos; they’re re-pins, according to technology blog Tech Crunch.

The WSJ recommends that, to be on the safe side, you upload only your own content. For example, “if a Pinterest user sees a piece of furniture that he or she likes, or a tasty-looking cookie, they’ll be safe taking out their smart phone, snapping a photo, and pinning it,” according to Jonathan Pink, a California-based intellectual property lawyer with Bryan Cave LLP.

One loophole: Old photos that pre-date 1923 can be “safely posted” under copyright law, Mr. Pink said.

What is Pinterest’s position on this issue? The company sent a statement to the WSJ, saying in part:

“…we strongly encourage people to pin from the original source or permalinks, give credit to the content owner, and include a thoughtful pin description. If a user notices that a pin is not sourced correctly they should leave a comment so that the original pinner can update the source. Many publishers have also added ‘Pin It’ buttons to their site, making it easier to identify content that is okay to add to Pinterest.”

What kinds of pictures do you pin on your Pinterest boards? Do you prefer to upload your own content or re-pin others’?

(image via