Screenshot credit: Jonathan Hoffberg for aNewDomain.net
Enthused new users of the white hot new virtual pinboard site Pinterest probably don’t realize that they are under the exact same legal liabilities and limitations as those who post to YouTube or Facebook — or any other public site.
Namely: Posting copyrighted material is illegal. As the terms of service on the Pinterest site spell out. Nevertheless, there’s been a lot of flap surrounding copyright questions regarding the site lately. According to one blogger who quite publicly posted her fears in a post that went viral last week — she is an Alpharetta, GA photographer and lawyer, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann is on it.
Social copyright issues are old news to experienced Internet users — but maybe not to the enthusiasts of this brand new social media site that’s spiking in popularity. It is, according to our John C. Dvorak who tracks such things, among the fastest growing sites in history. Last week, a whole kerfuffle sprung up around Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social sites in history, regarding its copyright issues as the company spells them out in its Terms of Service.
The controversy exploded big time on February 26 when a Georgia woman — she is a photographer and a lawyer — wrote a blog post titled Why I Am Tearfully Deleting My Twitter Account. She pointed out her copyright fears in a post that immediately went viral. Much to her surprise, but not to ours, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann got right back to her. We’re awaiting comment from Silbermann also.
Our reporters are digging into this, seeking legal analysis and confirmation on the update from Pinterest execs and founder Silbermann. Here is what the blogger posted this week as an update to the original post that fueled the Pinterest unrest.
I didn’t really expect that Pinterest would actually call me. But it did. Or, rather, its founder, Ben Silbermann, did. Now to be fair, I did reach out to Pinterest first by sending an email saying “Hey, it’s little old me with a blog post that kind of went out of control and I’d love to give you a chance to respond.” Well, respond (it) did with an email from … Silbermann himself within just a few hours. He said “Can I call you?” And I said, “Well, I’m kinda busy but I guess so.”
So he called and we chatted. For over an hour … it was a phone date to discuss Pinterest and the concerns I raised in my last blog post. And it went well. He didn’t yell at me. He didn’t accuse me of being a hater. He didn’t tell me I was a “loser” or to “suck it (up)” … What he … said was that he is a guy with a computer who had a vision to create this site where everyone can share stuff. He is not a lawyer and (he) doesn’t pretend to be an expert in copyright law … I assured him that I (am) not, either.
(Silbermann) said he knows there are issues with Pinterest and (he knows about) the fear of claims of copyright infringement … he wants to figure out a way to make “his little web page” … work within the confines of the law and in a way where photographers and (all) users feel comfortable.
We hashed out some of the pros and cons of using the site in its current format and talked about ideas he has to improve it and make it safer to use — but still as fun. All in all, it was a great conversation and he assured me that some changes are on the way in the very near future. He told me some of them but I don’t want to bind him to anything so all I can say is “wait and see. He’s on it.”
Stand by for legal commentary and more on this story. And keep an eye on TheSocialGeeks with Chris Miller, which runs regularly here at aNewDomain.net.