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Careful on Pinterest, Says Lawyer Who Deleted All Her Pinterest Posts

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. | Last updated on

Pinterest. If you don't use it, you've probably heard of it. It's causing a lot of concern.

Kristen Kowalski, a Georgia attorney, recently wrote about the controversy on her photography blog. Pinterest allows millions of users to pin -- or add -- photos to digital bulletin boards. They can then share those boards and images with their friends and so on.

In simpler terms, Pinterest is a hotbed of copyright infringement, and unbeknownst to many, its users are on the hook.

For this reason, Pinterest has received significant flak from blogging and photography communities. Photo site Flickr has even inserted code to disable the pinning of copyrighted images. Only those marked "share" and "public" can be pinned to the site.

Kowalski, in her own way, has gone one step further -- she's deleted all of her Pinterest posts and left the site altogether. She was primarily motivated by the site's Terms of Use.

Though Pinterest urges users not to pin personal content and use the site for blatant self-promotion, its user terms contain this little gem:

[Y]ou 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.

Users aren't supposed to pin their own images, yet the terms tell them not to post third-party content if they don't have prior permission. A little contradictory, no?

You may be thinking about fair use by this point. There have been a few decisions, one even involving Google, that found no copyright infringement when a site reproduces thumbnails of protected content. While true, this fact doesn't account for this part of Pinterest's user agreement:

[Y]ou agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with ... (iii) your violation of these Terms.

If Pinterest has to fight for the fair use exception, its users get to pay for it. Is Pinterest really worth the risk?

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