Pinterest founder calls user who fears infringement

Internet startup Pinterest, a popular image-collection website that allows contributors to post or “pin” art or photos, may have issues with intellectual property law. One user, a female attorney, decided to remove several images she displayed on Pinterest after questioning whether the website could be guilty of copyright infringement.

A blog written by the lawyer about the issue went viral on the Internet and caught the notice of one of Pinterest’s co-founders. The blog led to a phone conversation about legal matters.

The Pinterest founder, described by the attorney as “a guy with a computer who had a vision,” admitted the company was exploring copyright infringement issues. Website owners were aware that users were worried about intellectual property backlash.

The owner referred to planned changes on the image-collection website in the “very near future,” without revealing what the changes were and how or if they dealt with artists and photographers’ copyrights.

In its current incarnation, Pinterest allows users to post images to a pinboard. The artwork or photographs apparently can be images gathered from other sites, possibly from artistic creators who do not want to see their originals “pinned up.”

The attorney was curious about the website’s intellectual property policies. She found that the terms of service agreement placed the responsibility for “pins” squarely upon the people who posted material. The terms seemed to place Pinterest posters, and not website owners, alone on the legal hot seat.

Could Pinterest users be held responsible if an intellectual property clash were to surface? Would the terms of service agreement deflect fault from the website owners? Intellectual property laws are complicated, and users may want to pay more attention to this issue as it develops.

Source: Global Post, “Pinterest’s Cofounder: We’re Still Trying To Figure Out Copyright Laws,” Matt Lynley, Mar. 6, 2012