Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Before You Pin...

Along with all the excitement being generated by Pinterest, there are also some serious questions being asked about copyright issues. Can anyone grab any image on the Internet and pin it to their board without getting permission from the copyright owner?

This makes me very nervous. I always take extreme care to credit photographers and/or designers for their work, whether it’s for our print or digital publications. Sure, it’s extra work to hunt down sources, and make phone calls seeking permission, but it’s the right thing to do.

A number of articles have appeared recently trying to sort out the issue. The legal waters are murky, but the main points of agreement appear to be:

·         Pinterest knows this is an issue. Their original Terms of Use makes it clear that they are not liable for any damages for copyright infringement—the user is. Still, they recently updated their terms to make this even more clear. If a photographer feels that his copyright has been violated by a pinner, he can legally go after said pinner. Be warned.

·         If you want to receive credit for your original work, watermark your images. This is fairly simple to do with software such as Photoshop and Digimark.

·         If you are downloading a photo from a website, include the website link  in the photo caption to show readers where you got the photo, and who owns the copyright. 

·         Do not try and profit off others’ work. For example, don’t try and sell an image that is not yours, or use the image to promote the sale of one of your own products.

These simple rules of thumb should keep you from getting into big trouble. But when in doubt, it’s best to play conservative. (Of course, I am not an attorney and my opinion should not be taken as legal advice in anyway whatsoever.)

For added insight into the issue, click here to read “How to Use Pinterest Without Breaking the Law.”