Could copyright issues stick a pin in the Pinterest bubble?

The most frequently uttered lie throughout the world has got to be, without a doubt, “I have read and agree to the terms and conditions”. (I have a habit of opening the T&C’s and scrolling to the bottom in an attempt to convince my laptop that I did indeed make the effort.)

Ignoring the terms and conditions isn’t usually a problem, as they’re fairly reasonable and exactly what any law abiding citizen would expect. However, Pinterest’s terms and conditions make for some rather interesting, and also slightly terrifying, reading.

If, like me, you were so excited to get on the Pinterest train that you hurried through the sign up process, then you may be surprised to discover that they could actually leave you in some very hot water. So much so that many users are now opting to delete their accounts for fear of a lawsuit. Here’s why:

“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 […] or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, […] and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content […] violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights…”

“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.”

I don’t know about you, but I have yet to pin anything to Pinterest that I have any sort of copyright control over. I unscrupulously scour the internet in search of amazing and inspiring content; I occasionally get into a StumbleUpon meets Pinterest frenzy; and I never check if my pins are © protected.

This could land me in a whole barrel of trouble if Pinterest were to sell on any content to a third party. If the original copyright owner were to find out and seek legal action, Pinterest have clearly stated that I am solely responsible. Way to have my back, guys.

So what can you do about this? And what should you do about this?

At the moment the only advice is, if you can’t handle the potential copyright infringement, stop pinning and delete your account. One lawyer/ photographer has already gone down this route, seeing the potential for legal action as too much of a risk.

Some users are stating the copyright information in their pin description, but as the terms and conditions state, this isn’t enough.

It’s still early days for this new social networking site, and Pinterest have responded to concerns by allowing websites to opt out and not allow their content to be pinned. But should it really be down to website owners to stop their content being used? Or should the responsibility for copyright law remain with the pinner?