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Pinterest, We Have a Problem (whatblag.com)
446 points by CMartucci 2141 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments



Pinterest has a market valuation of > 200 million dollars...

30%+ of its images are flickr images...

... 99%+ of which are "All Rights Reserved".

How many

... page views,

... new subscribers,

... and $$$

have the most-pinned flickr images generated for pinterest, with the author not seeing a single cent... not even having the satisfaction of seeing their popularity on pinterest reflect in their flickr stats?

And: Pinterest does not even have the decency to display the author name and license info next to the image.

Pinterest's business model is flawed; it is based on systematic violation of copyright. At some point, someone will start a class-action lawsuit and invite flickr photographers whose works got "pinned" to sign up, to reclaim part of that >$200 million pie.

In fact, this seems like a valid startup idea to me: Create a one-page website explaining to flickr users what has been going on. Do a systematic reverse image search to find out which authors have been affected and invite them to join. Arrange with an interested lawfirm to get a % of their fee in exchange for delivering the list of potential plaintiffs.


Recently, I wanted to make some picture postcards of various locations around the US for personal use, so I went looking for images. I found many on Flickr. I wanted to compensate the original photographer. There is no easy way to do this.

At best, some photographs have a "request to license" link that bounces you to a third party (typically Getty Images) which offers to "Review the photo to determine if it's a good fit for licensing through us; Contact the photographer; Handle the details like releases and pricing" and takes "between two and seven days to arrange licensing." with prices typically around $100 for usable resolution for a postcard.

At worst, you have to sign in to Yahoo so that you can send the photographer a message about wanting to use their photo. You may or may not get a reply, and you have to arrange how to pay the photographer, if at all.

This may make sense for images which are to be used in a commercial context, but for personal use like how I wanted to use the images, it's way too expensive and much too much friction.

The vast majority of images will never be used commercially. There should be an easier way to remunerate the photographer, and at more reasonable prices. A "Pix Store" if you will. Maybe that's what the stock photo sites are supposed to be, but they don't have nearly the inventory.

Sorry for the tangent.


"This may make sense for images which are to be used in a commercial context, but for personal use like how I wanted to use the images, it's way too expensive and much too much friction."

That's why Flickr lets you search for Creative Commons images, for which the photographer gives you that personal use permission in advance.


Never mind various sites which also offer public domain images as well. Then there is the 3rd choice of actually talking to the photographer. I have used original songs produced from a musician (with his written consent) and photos produced by a photographer (again with written consent) on websites I have made. Then again one is a good friend and the other is the future wife of another good friend of mine.


There are shades of a grey between commercial use and free use which are unaddressed.


You think so? I license photos through Creative Commons, and differently depending on the shades of personal to commercial I consider inherent in the potential market for a photo.

I find it covers all the shades of commerciality I've considered. Meanwhile, for a purely commercial photographer, the getty images option is there, and those won't come up in the Creative Commons search unless licensed appropriately.

The CC search tool on Flickr is a fantastic tool for finding photos of the exact "shade" of use you're looking for.


CC photos are all free for non-commercial use, correct? What if you'd like to be compensated, but not at rates that justify the overhead of Getty Images? Many of the images I found were not CC licensed, nor did they have a Getty Images option. Those are the images I'm referring to.

e.g., go search Flickr for "drawdy falls". No results in Getty, no results in the Commons, but a handful of images from photographers that are retaining full copyright, but have't posted contact info. Maybe they don't want compensation and just failed to select CC when they posted. Who knows. Regardless, many of the images I found were in this middle ground. I'm not trying to sound entitled here, just pointing out that there's lots of images that sadly cannot be used.


The Getty Images process doesn't sound too terrible to me.

Is the up-to-a-week wait partly a consequence of GI giving the photog a chance to approve/deny the request? That would be reasonable -- they might not want, for example, a Neo-Nazi group licensing their photo of blonde, blue-eyed kids for some sort of racist poster campaign.

Also, $100 licensing for a photo that you really love is cheap as chips.

By personal use, do you mean that you were literally going to produce one copy of each postcard and keep them all yourself? You weren't going to make multiple copies and give/send any to anyone else?


I was making a single postcard per image, and needed a total of 30 separate images. These were going to a family member (30 postcards from 30 locations for her 30th birthday).

Having to wait a week for each image, and pay $100 each, wasn't going to work.

For personal use such as this it'd be nice if there were an easier way. Maybe Flickr could even be the middle man and take a 30% cut.


You can make the requests in parallel; it's one week total, not "a week for each image".


It's probably a bigger problem that it was going to cost him $3000 to send those 30 postcards (postage not included).

Getty is clearly defaulting to "I want to use this image in an advertisement" or similar uses, NOT a one-off single print of an image, to be "displayed" to a single person audience. $100 per image is ridiculous for that.


The requests are serial, the delay is parallelised. Or is there really a multi-request system?


> There should be an easier way to remunerate the photographer, and at more reasonable prices

does anybody know of a site that allows this?


Just print the pictures and send the photog a tip via Paypal or buy something (anything) the photog is selling.


> Just print the pictures and send the photog a tip via Paypal or buy something (anything) the photog is selling.

Just because the photographer has one image for sale, it does not mean he is selling (or giving you the rights to distribute/copy) another image.


Yeah, in general stuff like Getty Images is intended to license redistribution of the photo: if you plan to sell or give away hundreds of post cards, or use the photo on your website, or something else. It's pretty uncommon to license photos that you just want to print out at home for private use. To me that's more akin to saving a photo and making it your desktop wallpaper.


To be fair, Flickr has implemented the ability to opt out of "pinning" via a setting: http://www.flickr.com/account/prefs/sharing?from=privacy This adds the "nopin" meta tag to your pages automatically.

However, to be even more fair, the burden was on Flickr to implement this, not Pinterest. Pinterest is still encouraging copyright violation.


Exactly, the onus should be upon Pinterest not Flickr.


Flickr enables their users to mark their images as not-sharable, which now includes disabling anyone from sharing the images on Pinterest: http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/24/flickr-pinterest-pin/

Legally (IANAL but my understanding is), Pinterest only needs to comply with DMCA takedown requests. Instead they are being proactive and allow people to tag images as "nopin", vastly reducing the need for tedious or unreliable monitoring of Pinterest for copyrighted content, as content owners must do for almost every other sharing site. That's a good thing, and they should be applauded for it.

I suspect you might dislike the opt-out vs. opt-in nature of the nopin system, but new technologies have been accused of facilitating the death of copyright ever since the invention of the radio, but it turned out that most of those inventions created a lot of value for the world and for creators who adapt to the new medium.


Legally [...] Pinterest only needs to comply with DMCA takedown requests.

That didn't work out so well for MegaUpload.

But then again, pinterest probably doesn't have a strong lobby working against it.


But part of the complaint against MegaUpload was that they were not complying with DMCA takedowns.


"Pinterest's business model is flawed; it is based on systematic violation of copyright."

I don't think you've taken a look around the internet. Many successes are dependent on breaking or at least challenging the outdated concept of copyright, and many further successes were simply the latest new thing that incrementally improved the copyright situation (basically every music startup from Napster to Spotify). Even search engines (or ESPECIALLY search engines) are in a deeply gray area of copyright law and have never fully challenged the fuzziness of copyright law.

And maybe it's worth considering how much value is gained by everyone if there are weaker copyright restrictions and punishments.

In Pinterest's case, they could always make their system load the images directly from the source website. I'm sure they considered that and rejected it because it would make everything much slower and cause issues when sites go down or switch images, but that's precisely what Google Images does when you click on a thumbnail. What's the real difference here?


Pinterest should buy Flickr to resolve this, then it would need to copy and would legitimise large parts of its content.


  30%+ of its images are flickr images...
What's the source for this?


Thin air, surely.


I have one direct comment and one meta-comment about the issue of Pinteret and copyright.

First, I see no issue with their Terms of Service. That language is 100% cover-your-ass boilerplate, and any site that allows people to upload content will have a similar clause in their ToS. Facebook, YouTube, SoundCloud, etc. all do.

See, e.g., section 6.C of YouTube's ToS: http://www.youtube.com/static?gl=US&template=terms

If you find people are sharing your copyrighted material on Pinterest you should file a DMCA claim with them. That's how the mechanism is designed to work, for better or worse.

Second, when you react viscerally to what Pinterest is doing or enabling, think carefully about your opinion of YouTube. With respect to content, is there a substantive difference between these early days of Pinterest and the early days of YouTube?

The MPAA is probably saying, "See? You don't like it when it happens to you, either."


The indemnification clause is definitely 100% boilerplate and used in most any site that allows user-generated content. Facebook contains it near verbatim in item 15.2 of their terms. The license grant is a bit different, since Facebook allows you to terminate the license, though under particular conditions.

The significant issue here is the idea that the intended primary use for Pinterest may infringe on the rights of others. This is what took down Napster, and, to me, indemnifying Pintereist is too risky at this point.

It's my understanding that Pinterest is attempting to move to licensed and sponsored pins and they haven't annoyed any large industry groups and might even fare better legally than YouTube did. Who knows.


Yes, they're definitely playing with fire, and they'll have to address it soon given the rate they're growing.

But the outrage, outrage, OUTRAGE at Pinterest over this clause here just tells me people are ignorant of (1) what this clause really means and (2) how many times they've agreed to it in the past.

It's 100% nerdrage in my opinion, and a month from now nobody will be talking about it.


I cannot see how you can have (in reality, not legally) agreed to a clause without first knowing about it.


I think this is extremely common. Most people don't read Terms of Service Agreements. And an even higher percentage of people don't read Updates to such agreements.


Much of it is a conceit, yes, and I'm not qualified to comment on the legal precedents surrounding such licenses.

I'm sure Pinterest makes you check a box saying you agree to the Terms of Use before they let you create an account.

Whether that's sufficient is up to a court to decide, and an attorney could tell you the likelihood of a successful suit given a specific fact pattern.

I'm not an attorney, though.

As I said below, people -- engineers, especially -- get caught up in contractual technicalities. The fundamental question is: do you trust Pinterest to do right by you?

Flickr has a similar clause that every photographer who has uploaded their photos has agreed to, but they do right by their users and so nobody believes one day Flickr is going to undo all that work. It would alienate their customers.

If you think Pinterest is untrustworthy, why do you think some text on a screen that they wrote themselves is going to impact their behavior one way or another?


Actually, Flickr’s TOS (now a general Yahoo one) is quite different. They make it clear that their rights are limited to the specific uses obvious and essential to the function of their sites:

> Yahoo! does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for inclusion on the Yahoo! Services. However, with respect to Content you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services, you grant Yahoo! the following worldwide, royalty-free and non-exclusive license(s), as applicable:

> With respect to photos, graphics, audio or video you submit or make available for inclusion on publicly accessible areas of the Yahoo! Services other than Yahoo! Groups, the license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publicly perform and publicly display such Content on the Yahoo! Services solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available. This license exists only for as long as you elect to continue to include such Content on the Yahoo! Services and will terminate at the time you remove or Yahoo! removes such Content from the Yahoo! Services.

The key here is “solely for the purpose for which such Content was submitted or made available.” Pinterest’s ToS doesn’t have such language.

Additionally, Yahoo’s ToS doesn’t indemnify Yahoo against all possible liability or force their legal bills w/r/t copyright claims &c. onto users. The relevant language is much more constrained:

> You agree that Yahoo! has no responsibility or liability for the deletion or failure to store any messages and other communications or other Content maintained or transmitted by the Yahoo! Services. You acknowledge that Yahoo! reserves the right to log off accounts that are inactive for an extended period of time.


Although Yahoo is definitely more constrained then Pinterest in terms of their license language, they actually do have a similar indemnity clause:

"You agree to indemnify and hold Yahoo! and its subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, employees, partners and licensors harmless from any claim or demand, including reasonable attorneys' fees, made by any third party due to or arising out of Content you submit, post, transmit, modify or otherwise make available through the Yahoo! Services, your use of the Yahoo! Services, your connection to the Yahoo! Services, your violation of the TOS, or your violation of any rights of another."


Pinterest has built a service around sharing much like Reddit but instead of using links it appropriates the content and tries to 'pin' that on the user. I fully expect Pinterest to have to change the way they operate to make it more inline with a google images style of caching, where they assume the responsibility for reproducing the images. I think Pinterest just needs some smarter lawyers.


Does the ToS indemnify them the way they think they do anyway? If it ever came to court , i doubt pinterest would be able to put the blame solely on the user.


I think the point is well made about Youtube. There was indeed a huge amount of 'pirated' content on Youtube in the early days. Pinterest may be even worse because (a) the UI is specifically designed to make it incredibly easy to copy content. The overwhelming majority of Pinterest's content appears to be copied in this way. With Youtube at least people could and did upload a huge amount of their own content. And this is directly relevant to (b) Whereas Youtube was about hosting video content which may or may not have been copied Pinterest is so dominantly about copying content that it is much more like the case of the P2P sites whose whole modus operandi was to enable copying. It wasn't an unexpected or relatively minor aspect of their business - it was their business. And IMHO copying is Pinterest's business. The courts took a dim view of the P2P sites claiming that they were just the innocent service providers because of the overwhelming dominance of the use of the service and the fact that the site was designed to facilitate it. My suspicion is that Pinterest's moves to provide facilities to block pinning are legally motivated to fend off suits to the effect that they are unashamedly a copying engine.


Oh please, not again.

Absolutely any and every product you use has ridiculous Terms of Service.

These documents are drafted up by lawyers. Their job is not to please the end users who care to read through the legalese. Their job is to create a document that will protect the product vendor in court, if and when the time comes.

Lets put an end to finding eccentricities in ToSs/EULAs, it's getting kind of redundant. If this is some sort of game to see who can find the most absurd clauses in these documents, we're all losing.


For "content" creators, these are not absurdities, these are terms that can make or break your ability to get paid for your work and put food on the table.

A photographer having to go to court to defend his ownership of photos they'd exhibited through twitpic and get paid by newspapers who claimed the ToS said he'd released his rights, demonstrates this is not a "please not again" problem, this is ongoing, big corps are misusing these at the expense of individual artists, and the problem's getting worse.

Every day I talk to artists who have no idea that posting their latest music video to a video sharing site could give that company performance rights in other media, or, as in this case, that pinning their own photos to Pinterest would let Pinterest publish a "Best Pins of 2012" book w/o compensating the artist.

This needs to be called out and both consumers and creators deserve to be informed.


Let me rephrase GP's comment, since I felt the same thing as them. Allow me to set out a hypothetical.

You find that Pinterest's terms are awful, and stage a very successful revolt with your own site, sans the offensive terms. Users flock to your site, and Pinterest dies a sad death. One of the copyright owners of your "pinned" content decides to go after you, and decides to sue the pants off you. So you freak out and hire a top-notch lawyer, who will draft a new set of terms for your users to shield you from the liability you now realize you have.

Repeat, iterate, and before you know it -- your top-notch lawyer guarantees that you will face no more expensive liability, but you now have the onerous terms set out in practically all sites that allow user-generated content.

Basically, these terms allow you to bump the liability from yourself to the user who uploaded it (because they have pinned the pictures in bad faith, in violation of your terms, etc.)

So there's really no point railing against the terms -- they aren't going away, and the best you can hope for is very minor modifications of wording with sufficient popular pressure. Good luck on that.


This post we're discussing _is_ the popular pressure. And yes, I also wish them good luck because the pendulum is currently far too in the direction against fairness to end-users.


Exactly. Saying that this is just the way it is is ludicrous. They could under sufficient pressure change the wording so that they aren't assuming ownership or unlimited use and that it is something more akin to fair use.


"Repeat, iterate, and before you know it -- your top-notch lawyer guarantees that you will face no more expensive liability, but you now have the onerous terms set out in practically all sites that allow user-generated content"

If that lawyer exists, the Pirate Bay should hire him/her. I do not see how what they are doing is any different from what Pinterest does. Or am I overlooking something?


You're missing a big point though. Does Pintrest need to internalize and take ownership over all of the content on the site in order to protect themselves legally? It seems that would open them up to far greater liability. And then in the same breath they foist that liability onto their users simply for doing what they are 'supposed' to do (pin things they are interested in).

As others have said, Flickr does not have the same "we own it now" stipulation so don't suggest that this is simply the way it has to be. If Pintrest were so inclined, they could keep the indemnity boilerplate but stop taking ownership of posted content. This would move their site much closer to Fair Use territory, which would in turn help minimize the legal risk taken on by users who pin and comment on content that isn't their own. Instead, Pintrest want to make sure they don't close a potentially lucrative door and don't mind if they abuse everyone involved in making and sharing content while they explore their options.


>they aren't going away, and the best you can hope for is very minor modifications of wording with sufficient popular pressure. Good luck on that.

Sounds like what a lot of people said about SOPA.


Nope, SOPA was another (succesful) attempt by user-generated content sites to deflect liability away from themselves. That's my point, these onerous terms are pretty much in the same spirit, from an Internet company's point of view, as the SOPA protest.


It seems like there is an easy solution, just never post something on the web in a format you wouldn't be ok with others using without. Post 800x600 images with a contact me link, or put your name/contact on the picture so that it is attractive but still a little bit annoying, etc.


This is the absolute wrong way to look at things. This is the sort of reaction that gets Cameras on every street corner, or searches without a warrant, or SOPA passing, or higher gas prices.

You see - When something is presented to us, and at first we yell. Well, 'they' listen, and tone it down. But 'they' bring it up again, and we yell (but not quite as much, or as loud). Eventually, the original goal is implemented, but with no fuss because we've been wore down.

To react with 'please not again' and to paint the person that is doing the finger pointing, as the bad guy - is the reaction that gets things FAR WORSE than this happening.


Please show me in Picasa's ToS where it says you'll pay Google's legal fees if Google is sued on account of a picture you uploaded.

Please show me in Flickr's ToS where it says that you're giving Flickr the right to sell and relicense any photo you post there.

Pinterest's ToS go far beyond any other service I've seen. If you have examples of terms of service just as ridiculous as Pinterest's, by all means, please share them.


Even Tumblr explicitly states that you own your content, and that you only license Tumblr the right to cache, republish, etc., "in order to provide the Services".


No, it's time to start saying "hey, that looks like a great service, but I'm absolutely not using it until you offer it on legal terms that I find acceptable".


With your reasoning we should sign blindly all papers and if any weirdies are found it is just to protect the service provider incourt, never its it a trick against the user, right?


>Absolutely any and every product you use has ridiculous Terms of Service.

I've been using vi.sualize.us for quite some time. It has a very similar service to Pinterest but much better ToS. Have a read http://vi.sualize.us/help/terms/


These are not eccentricities, this is serious stuff. Last time I checked US law allowed for damages of up o $150 000 per violation for copyright infringement. This EULA includes an indemnification and hold harmless clause, which means that if pinterest gets sued for something you upload you get pay for their defense and for any judgments if they loose.

So if this EULA holds up, it means it can easily expose you to millions of dollars of damages. Yes there are many exploitative EULAs out there but this is the first one I have seen that can get easily get you on the hook for millions of dollars for an innocuous action.


Do you really think any other content submission service - Youtube, Flickr, etc - doesn't have a disclaimer like this? That they make themselves liable for what their users submit?

And how is this abusive? Why should they be held liable for what their users do?

From Youtube's ToS:

    To the extent permitted by applicable law, you agree to defend,
    indemnify and hold harmless YouTube, its parent corporation, officers,
    directors, employees and agents, from and against any and all claims,
    damages, obligations, losses, liabilities, costs or debt, and expenses
    (including but not limited to attorney's fees) arising from: (i) your use
    of and access to the Service; (ii) your violation of any term of these
    Terms of Service; (iii) your violation of any third party right, including
    without limitation any copyright, property, or privacy right; or (iv) any
    claim that your Content caused damage to a third party. This defense
    and indemnification obligation will survive these Terms of Service and
    your use of the Service.


YouTube, Flickr, etc. don't provide a bookmarklet for uploading other peoples' content.


This is a good point, but it should not go made without mentioning the fact that we need some standards around TOS/privacy policies. Just like for OSS we have licenses that are "known", we have the GPL (v1,2,3), AGPL, BSD, MPL, APL, etc. Many of us now know how these differ. I started believing in this idea when I first read it purposed in a comment here (i.e.on HN). Standards and git-like-versioning seems the only way to bring transparency to these large, seemingly-opaque corporations.

It might be interesting to put the largest internet companies' TOS and privacy policies on github.


If you are expected to be bound by terms that you cannot be bothered to read because that would take a lifetime, then you should hope that there are teams of nerds with OCD picking through them and weeding out nonsense on your behalf.


Thank you! So true. Slow news day? Read some TOSes and manufacture some fake outrage. It's so old now.

Concerned about copyright? First off, I'm surprised anyone here would be concerned about copyright seeing as how everyone loves to talk about music/software pirates like they're modern day revolutionary heroes. Secondly, file a damn DMCA takedown request. We're not talking about the Pirate Bay here. It's Pinterest, they'll probably comply pretty quickly. Don't have time to patrol Pinterest for violations? Well, I feel for you but realistically it's a simple site where people share cool stuff. More than any other type of sharing website Pinterest users have the most benign intentions and it's really unlikely either Pinterest itself or it's users intend to profit from or intentionally violate copyright.

I live near Chicago where earthquakes are unheard of but there is a fault line running through Illinois and we do get the odd tremor every so often. There could be a disastrous earthquake here tonight (scientists do say that one day there will be a big one here) but I'm not cowering in my home or running through the streets trying to warn people of it. It's the same with this Pinterest and copyright thing. Just because something is possible doesn't mean it's likely. Your time is better spent worrying about running your business and making it better rather than chasing around random Pinterest's users who could be... wait for it..l violating your copyright!!

Not to say copyright is a joke, I'm actually a rare supporter of it (to a degree) around here but seriously, it's friggin Pinterest, you're not losing a significant amount of money there.


There was a similar HN post/Google+ post last week. I can't remember where I read it.

Something along the lines of an avid lawyer decided to kill her account because she read the ToS and drew exactly the same conclusions as what you had just wrote.

While it's quite easy to regard this as been a ticking timebomb, a few things to probably note.

If you are a photographer or someone who holds copyright in a work you would most likely just issue a DMCA.

Now, lets assume that you aren't content with that. You might argue that you have incurred losses and want some form of damages. You are first going to have to contact Pinterest to get the information of the user who has listed this said work. Are Pinterest goijng to give up this information so willingly? Probably not...


> There was a similar HN post/Google+ post last week. I can't remember where I read it. Something along the lines of an avid lawyer decided to kill her account because she read the ToS and drew exactly the same conclusions as what you had just wrote.

The relevant article and HN discussion is here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3660323


>You are first going to have to contact Pinterest to get the information of the user who has listed this said work. Are Pinterest goijng to give up this information so willingly? Probably not...

IIRC, in this case you sue John Doe and have the court compel Pinterest to identify him.


Does pinterest require identifying information in order to register?


It requires a facebook or twitter login. Plus it should have some kind of IP log somewhere. Pinterest won't have the entire identity, but this is how e-discovery works. You keep sending subpoenas up the hierarchy until you get to the ISP. The ISP provides the subscriber information.


Speaking of the DMCA Safe Harbor...

Images on Pinterest, in some cases, were not even uploaded from a user's hard drive; they were pulled in via a the 'Pin It' button (http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/)

In this case, Pinterest even acknowledges that the images are not the property of the user, "When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator."

I'll bet the 'Pin It' button ultimately gets them in hot water, because it's hard to argue the content is 'user generated' when they know, via their 'Pin It' code, exactly where the content is actually coming from.

§ 512(c) [DMCA Safe Harbor] also requires that the OSP: 1) not receive a financial benefit directly attributable to the infringing activity, 2) not be aware of the presence of infringing material or know any facts or circumstances that would make infringing material apparent,

I wonder if 'the original source URL' of a image may be construed as a fact that would make infringing material apparent. IANAL.


In this case, Pinterest even acknowledges that the images are not the property of the user, "When you pin from a website, we automatically grab the source link so we can credit the original creator."

And that's fine - their ToS says you need to be either the copyright holder or have consent from the copyright holder. For example, if I "pin" a CC licensed image, I have such consent.


their ToS says you need to be either the copyright holder or have consent from the copyright holder.

I've seen warez sites with exactly the same disclaimer. It didn't work for them either.


But Youtube, Flickr, DeviantArt and thousands of other user submitted content sites are still online.


As far as I know there is no industry group for still-image photographers anything like the MPAA or RIAA. All three of those sites are and were filled with substantial original content, so they can claim that illegal use is not their primary drive. I don't know if Pinterest can successfully argue the same thing.

It also should be noted that YouTube spent a great deal of money on settlements and arrangements with RIAA & MPAA members, content networks and others to survive.


"As far as I know there is no industry group for still-image photographers anything like the MPAA or RIAA."

The American Society of Media Photographers, Graphic Artists Guild, the Picture Archive Council of America, the North American Nature Photography Association, Professional Photographers of America. They do not have the deep pockets or political clout of MPAA or RIAA but they are large industry groups.

I think someone else mentioned a class action suite against Google for copyright infringement by photographers. The lawsuit started with scanning and displaying images from the Google Library Project but includes infringement claims for images.google.com, etc.

http://asmp.org/articles/asmp-qa-google-class-action.html


So you're claiming that pinterest should pay your legal bills for you? That's ridiculous. If you upload a photo that's copyrighted by someone else and get sued, why should pinterest foot the bill for that? There is no way the service would ever be viable under those conditions, because it would create an enormous moral hazard.


The thing is that pinterest makes most of its money on copyrighted material uploaded without the content of the original owner, so it encourages and makes money on copyrights infringement for the main part. Just like the Pirate Bay...


There is no moral hazard when they are claiming the right to sell material that might be copyrighted.


That isn't an issue because you are co-assigning your copyright to them, assuming you own the copyright. And if you don't own the copyright then it's not a valid contract, so it doesn't matter. It's not like you're legally able to sign away someone else's copyright. Which is exactly why the indemnity clause is there, to prevent pinterest from being responsible if people are dumb enough to do that.


(Almost) all material is copyrighted. The question is who owns such copyright (or a sublicensable license to it).


I am an attorney (and as far as I can tell, the author is not one, so take his "analysis" with a pillar of salt). This is not legal advice though.

With respect to the following paragraph:

"So, if you snap an awesome photograph, upload it to your blog, and someone pins it, that person is either (1) claiming exclusive ownership of it; or (2) giving Pinterest your consent to reproduce it (and you just thought you were being flattered)."

Actually, no. You can't transfer a right you don't have. All rights to a work are vested in the author of a protected work; only the author can consent to any of the activities protected by copyright.

It's just like selling a house you don't own. First, you're committing fraud if you falsely represent that you have the right to sell it; and second, the actual owner isn't bound by anything you have done (the deed doesn't go to the putative buyer).


And there in lies the problem with TOS (or is the problem with the law?) if one needs to be an attorney to understand them, what hope is there for the ordinary folk - just saying. No wonder people just click through.


This is my issue with the article. If your rights as content creator are violated by Pinterest, then that's between you and Pinterest. If Pinterest were to say "but user 4023 said it was ours to use!" my reaction would be "so what?"


Watermark the pictures in your blog?

By the way, I found out that you can watermark all of your images that you're about to upload to Picasa Web via Picasa Desktop (there's an option to do that before you Sync to Web). I found that feature very useful if you organize your pictures using Picasa (and show them on your blog).


Or some server code that serves a watermarked image if the client IP block is that of Pinterest's caching servers. People see the un-watermarked image on your site, but a watermarked one when browsed on Pinterest.


Problem is, copyright is implied on the part of the creator. It does not need to be applied for, nor is there any requirement for a copyright notice.

Just because you didn't watermark your image doesn't mean the copyright now belongs to Pintrest (or imgur, or Google+, or Facebook, etc) because people who didn't hold the copyright and didn't have the standing to give it away posted it.


And that's why you can send a DMCA takedown request and they'll have to take it down. I fail to see the problem here.


the watermark isn't for legal purposes, it is for communication and content-devaluation purposes


This is true, but if you want to receive statutory damages for copyright infringement, you have to have registered your copyright.

http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#register


'The “pin” button remains inactive until the user types something. Anything. Might this count as “criticizing” or “commenting”?'

Interesting. I'd like to see a court case further define what constitutes a "comment" on the web. Other sites do this too, for example Buzzfeed.com's entire business model is based on taking content from bloggers and then hosting it on their own site, without providing any kind of insightful comment.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/if-both-of-angelinas-legs-wer...


"commenting" is only one aspect of fair use, and it generally is interpreted to mean "copying a small snippet as an example" or "reproducing a low-resolution copy for reference" to provide context.

Another aspect of fair use is "not depriving the owner of their own commercial use of the work".


If I'm a copyright holder who feels like my work is being misappropriated by Pinterest, I'm going to sue Pinterest, not the user. Their Terms of Service won't stop them from getting sued, and the indemnity clause won't magically make money appear in their pockets to pay for their defense. If they decide to start suing their users for recovery, that would be pretty amusing.

"I trusted the person who gave me the image" is not a legal defense for copyright infringement. Their only chance is to stay within the DMCA safe harbor or else they will eventually be shut down.


As my lawyer explained to me long ago, who eventually "wins" a lawsuit is rarely interesting. Cost, time, and agony to get there are much more relevant factors.

The "our users represent that the content is theirs" may not keep Pinterest from losing an eventual lawsuit, but it does complicate things enough that it discourages legal action. That may be sufficient for them to cash out long before the suits are complete.

Or, like YouTube, things like that may allow them to grow big enough that they end up with sufficient negotiating power that they can get away with quite a bit, and possibly reshape what's considered reasonable.


BTW, you mean "I trust the person who told me to take the image from a third party."

Imagine calling AAA to tow "your" car, and they show up and tow it, only to find out later that it wasn't your car at all.


I think many are dismissing this as "standard TOS/EULA legalese" and missing the point. Let's consider a scenario: let's say you post some photos online, and license them under the CC-By-SA license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/). Then someone pins the photos you took to Pinterest. Next, Pinterest sells the photos you took, then catches someone copying or modifying the photos you took and sues them for copyright. To top it all off, Pinterest doesn't even give you attribution.

This is exactly the sort of thing that CC and GPL were created to combat: ruining someone's life through the legal system based on abuse of the copyright system. You want to sue someone over copyright violations of information you have copyright on? Fine. You want to sell something licensed under CC-By-SA? Fine. But you better be ready to comply to the license and allow whoever you give those works to the right to copy, sell and modify those works. I highly doubt Pinterest is prepared for this, and their TOS is overreaching.


Maybe all the buzz about Pinterest is because so many people think that finding an image online makes it publicly redistributable. "Pinning" is just another way of sharing.

I get the impression that there's much wider public acceptance of sharing (pirating?) pictures than music, movies, or software. I don't have a good answer as to why this might be, but I'd be curious what HN thinks.


> I get the impression that there's much wider public acceptance of sharing (pirating?) pictures than music, movies, or software. I don't have a good answer as to why this might be, but I'd be curious what HN thinks.

Anecdotally, it's because photographs and images are seen as "easier to reproduce" (whether this is true or not is another matter), and therefore possibly easier to justify by those doing the sharing.

That, and there's far less friction to sharing photos/images than video and software.


Perhaps it's also that photos seem less valuable than songs or movies, since pretty much anyone can take a decent photo? (Decent by the person's own standards, at least; maybe not by a professional photographer's.)


I don't think anyone has ever run into DRM on pictures. Once polaroids became popular, everyone had access to photography which meant that there were few large corporate interests to run propaganda campaigns. There is a clear line between Hollywood films and home movies and I suspect that very few people would feel bad about sharing home movies without the consent of the person/family in/recording the movie compared with how many people would feel some kind of guilt about sharing a feature length blockbuster. So the attitude of the creators and the diversity of creators seem to play a large role in determining public acceptance of sharing certain things.


Could this argument also apply to sites like Readability? Since it removes advertising (hence income for the writers) from articles.


I don't think so, unless readability grants itself rights to reproduce and sell every article that passes through its engine. Does it?


Maybe not sell, but they it'd be impossible for Readability to work without reproducing the articles.


Pinterest and Tumblr are by far the worse offenders when it comes to sharing content from other providers as its not 100% clear, or sometimes elusive, on how visitor can view the original content. Its as if these sites are cutting content providers out of the loop which is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. They are essentially going to injure the entire ecosystem of sharing if they keep up with these practices (http://www.sv411.com/index.php/2012/02/pinterest-gets-caught...).

What's worse is that these shady sharing practices have begun to support a broader ecosystem of image finding scavengers such as http://www.whattopin.com (see below).

Here is a support ticket we received today at Fotoblur which illustrates the problems we are seeing (a bit of broken English but you get the picture):

"I am user the http://www.fotoblur.com/portfolio/agnieszkabalut?p=1&id=... Another user Elinka used my photo art- senza titolo2 by Agnieszka Balut....... (via Elinka) in the web-site http://www.whattopin.com/topic/photography/?id=283634 - Printerest (commercial use)

and in the http://elinka.tumblr.com/post/18734723798/senza-titolo2-by-a... without my permission.

All my images are protected by Copyright (reproduction and printing). All images on these are the exclusive property of Agnieszka Balut and protected by the Copyright . Therefore prohibited the publication and reproduction without written permission from Agnieszka Balut. Any violation will be prosecuted."

As you can see, this type of sharing confuses people. We usually explain "fair use" to them but they really don't care. They feel they have rights and they want action taken. I can fully understand why Flickr blocked Pinterest if they have been getting the complaints such as we've seen. In the end the burden falls on the image owner and what ends up happening is they have to chase down every site owner whose members improperly post their content. They then lose faith in participating at all because of their inability to control their content.


Didn't Pinterest address this to a certain degree? At least from the content creators - http://blog.pinterest.com/post/17949261591/growing-up says that you can add a meta tag marking your content as not pinnable.


"To a certain degree"... Not so much...

So I, as a Content Creator, have to a) be mindful of, and b) take action to opt out of 1) Pinterest, 2) any other of a potentially large number of sites / applications, purely in order to ensure said sites don't claim commercial rights to and derive income from my work and effort?

Not the way it works, or should work, say I.


You can send a DMCA takedown request if you see that someone is misusing your content. What exactly do you propose? Eliminate any website with user submitted content? I mean, what if someone posts a work to Hacker News without permission, should YCombinator be held liable?


So here is a thought. I presume the article is mostly critical of the terms based on comments here. But consider a service without any "ownership" terms, etc. Two scenarios:

1. When a user "pins" an image elsewhere online, the image is downloaded by Pinterest to their server. When other users browse Pinterest, it is served directly by Pinterest's servers.

2. When a user "pins" an image elsewhere online, the image URL is saved by Pinterest to their server. When other users browse Pinterest, they are downloading the image directly from the original source.

Scenario (1) I see legal issues with. But scenario (2)? Isn't Pinterest simply providing a link (ala a search engine)? Moreover, isn't this just how the internet works?

Surely this has come up before yet I am having trouble finding a similar case.


This is the problem with importing PUBLIC CONTENT YOU FIND ON THE INTERNET into a website. Not uploading from your computer, or importing from your own account somewhere on another site. If the website actually makes a copy of the media (picture, etc.) and stores it on their servers, they should hope that the DMCA still considers them a safe harbor.

I think their best bet is to store the images only as a cache, and not as a permanent import. If the site owner decides to take down the original, then the cache should disappear soon thereafter.


Pinterest is more like a visual social bookmarking service than a blog. When people save bookmarks or share links on delicious or reddit or even twitter, of course they don't claim ownership of that content, it's just a bookmark. Similarly, with Pintrest people are saving a visual bookmark of something they saw that was interesting out on the web or on other social streams, tumblr, etc. I think a lot of people are missing the point here.


If posting an image with a comment is fair use, then arguably the combination of the image and the comment constitute the Member Content for which the poster is claiming ownership.

If I publish a review of a work of art, including a reproduction of the work, in a magazine, my copyright would cover the entire article including the reproduction. I wouldn't be claiming copyright on the original work.


That's pretty much how I see it too. Yes, you own the review, which includes the right to the image for the fair use purposes of explaining the review only. There is no transitive right if you sell that review to use the image for any other purpose.

I too find this insane. If anything qualifies for fair use, surely pinterest does. "Hey look at this cool thing!" is about as close as I can imagine to the platonic ideal of discussing a copyrighted work.

No one freaked out over /r/pics, so what's the deal here? I hesitate to point out that pinterest differs mostly in the gender demographics of the user base, but... yeah.


This. Pinterest is like saving/sharing a visual bookmark rather than just a text link. Even /r/pics creates image thumbs similar to Pinterest. People on Pinterest are 'pinning' stuff they found that they like, just like users do on Reddit, or here on Hacker News, for that matter. What's the difference? Bigger thumbnails?


> No one freaked out over /r/pics,

/r/pics is just a collection of links to images; it does not reproduce or redistribute the images.


Right, but that's the same sort of legalese excuse-making (or alternatively: just substitute imgur, which hosts most of that content).

It has nothing to do with whether or not /r/pics constitutes fair use, just if-it-isn't-fair-use-who-gets-sued? No one, at the time or now, seriously thought that there was a legal problem for anyone with reddit. So why pinterest? Again, part of me is really suspicious that it's because it's a chick site that doesn't cater to geeks.


Right, but that's the same sort of legalese excuse-making. It has nothing to do with whether or not /r/pics constitutes fair use, just if-it-isn't-fair-use-who-gets-sued? No one, at the time or now, seriously thought that there was a legal problem for anyone with reddit. So why pinterest? Again, part of me is really suspicious that it's because it's a chick site that doesn't cater to geeks.


Funny thing is that Pinterest in their terms of service are asking people to follow rules they are breaking for other services...


I was under the assumption that all social-based sites/companies follow the same policy, not so they can resell user content, but so they can eventually go through an acquisition without facing a class action lawsuit from its users who would demand a % of the sale. e.g. Geocities.



One phrase comes to mind after reading this: "so what." It's not about what the terms say, it's about how they're enforced. I don't see any users getting sued, just a bunch of stories on how you could potentially get sued.


Just opening the door for business casual G-men [video]:

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/382781/business-casual...


Pinterest is caching these images on their servers, not their customers who are only pasting in links. I find it hard to believe that these end-users will be held liable for an implementation detail on Pinterest's end. And linking, I believe is legal.

These are images that are publicly available on the internet and have been made available, in most cases, by the owner. Is there really a case that copying these images off the internet is illegal?


It's not an issue of copying images off the Internet. It's an issue with redistributing it, which Pinterest does. Just because an image is on the Internet does not mean it's up for grabs to whoever gets it.


What we have here is manufactured outrage. Total non-story. I hope others don't start piling on now that this has been written.

The real deal is that Pinterest is screwed either way. These terms sound scary but so long as they are enforced sanely there should be no problem. What do you expect them to do? Assume liability for users posting content they should not be posting? They might as well not exist. A lot of startups these days may as well not even try to get traction as long as bloggers keep getting their panties in a twist over every TOS they see.

Pinterest provides a service for free that people seem to love. So long as no one is paying them and they haven't gone public they're damn smart to have these terms. If I ran Pinterest I wouldn't want to assume liability for some asshole who leaks a top secret photo on my site that I let him use for free and as long as I'm giving that service for free I'm going to make some cash out of my users. This is nowhere near evil. It's business. If someone doesn't like it they don't have to use it.

Question: How do you get over writer's block? Answer: Start reading some terms of service or privacy policy docs from any popular online startup and manufacture some outrage over it. Truth is, if you read any TOS or privacy policy you're going to find something you can turn into a big deal most of the time. I've had it with the TOS/privacy policy outrage blogs.


I agree completely, but there's a double-standard here. What if instead of (mostly) photographs pinterest was mostly video? Then it would be YouTube, and everyone is pretty clear that you shouldn't upload a video to YouTube if you don't own it. Of course, some people flout that rule, but I figure the majority of content on YouTube is genuinely owned by the people who post it, while I very much doubt this is the case on Pinterest.

So which is it? Is it bad that Pinterest is mostly "stolen" content, or bad that we're not allowed to post similarly "stolen" content on YouTube? The former implies that Pinterest should start cracking down on people who post content they don't own; the latter implies that YouTube should stop doing so (and therefore, copyright law should change).


Good point. The reason Pinterest is worth a look from this perspective is because it's a case study in the copyright dilemma. "Everyone loves Pinterest", but it's basically built around systematic copyright violations. (The TOS debate is just a corollary.)


>but I figure the majority of content on YouTube is genuinely owned by the people who post it, while I very much doubt this is the case on Pinterest.

That assumption seems fairly inaccurate, see this quote: "Remarkably, more than one-third of the two billion views of YouTube videos with ads each week are ... uploaded without the copyright owner’s permission but left up by the owner’s choice." [1]

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/technology/03youtube.html


Didn't read the article, but as far as I can see that doesn't disprove his assumption.

The NYT quote is talking just about the videos with ads, and then only discussing them in terms of views (not in terms of percentages of actual content uploaded, which is something like 24+ hours of content every minute).


If Pinterest was mostly music tracks instead of photos then it would be equivalent to a web-based Napster and we all know what would happen under current copyright law.


First off, YouTube's policy is very similar to Pinterest. Besides that, they have different use cases. People aren't posting photos to Pinterest because they want to look at photos or use it as an art gallery. The purpose of Pinterest is very different from that of YouTube. It's like an inspiration folder or a brain dump where you stash things you want or that inspire you so you can look at them in the future. YouTube truly is an exhibition in the fullest sense of the word. You are going there for the value of the videos themselves, not the value assigned to them by others. It's one thing for NBC to take down all videos on YouTube of SNL because the value to NBC is in the actual watching of the videos. With photos it's a little different. Users aren't exactly "using" photos. They're simply putting them in a virtual box to look at later. If you want to go out to buy a photograph you're going to buy it to use somewhere like on a postcard or a website. Of course you need to see the photo before you buy it and once it's seen it cannot be unseen. Pinterest is putting them in a different context but they aren't exactly using them per se.

Probably not the best argument but the more important point I want to make is that this is a case where you can't use semantics to argue your way through. There are a lot of variables involved that make this a very muddy issue. Things like intent and the probability that the photos will be used for profit need to be taken into account. Just because something can happen doesn't means the odds are high that it will.

Plus copyright holders still have the DMCA and it's unlikely Pinterest won't abide.

EDIT: I just realized that the way you framed the issue puts the onus on Pinterest to police the content. It's not a bad idea that they do but with video it's far easier to spot a famous movie or tv show than it is some freelance photographer's copyrighted work. The whole point of Pinterest's policy is to put the onus on the user to make sure they don't upload things they shouldn't. That's smart and combined with copyright holders' way to complain through DMCA, I see nothing wrong here.


How is it so different use cases? I think an average user would find it very similar. Think, for example, The Oscars photos or the british wedding photos, or AP photos. The only reason it hasn't yet created a stir is because photos are cheaper. Assuming it will gain enough traction, i think pinterest at some point will start some ad revenue sharing programs like youtube.


>Assume liability for users posting content they should not be posting?

Couldn't they avoid liability without claiming ownership of my own original work? I'm an illustrator, I believe there is a story here.


They could and I'm not a lawyer but I'd guess there's a legal reason for it in terms of liability or they're somehow making a profit through that clause. Either way, you don't have to post anything to Pinterest and you have a way to get your content taken down via DMCA.

I read a lot of comments like this and I always wonder why it always sounds like someone is forcing you to put your content on their site. No one is obligated to post anything to any website. There are a lot of ways to put your works online and not give up your ownership. If you don't like one site's policy on this then there are plenty of others. Pinterest is free. No one is entitled to tell them how to run their business just the same as they can't force you to use it. I feel like this is lost on a lot of people. I'm just 25 but I feel old, like somehow the generation just behind me and maybe my generation too see websites like Facebook and Google and Pinterest as services that we are somehow entitled to and should be able to control without ever paying a dime. Nothing in this life is free. If you get something for nothing, take a look around. You're probably paying in some form that isn't monetary.


I'm amazed that you managed construct that condescending diatribe around a simple question. Was there a tone of entitlement or demand in my question?

Your argument boils down to 'If you don't like it, don't use it.' So I guess any more discussion on the subject is henceforth mute?


It's not "if you don't like it, don't use it." It's, "how do we, the presumably more savvy, help prevent abusive ToS where naive 'click through' users are taken by surprise when Pinterest begins selling the users' things?" How do we keep our collective marketplace safe so visitors will feel good about strolling by?

It's easy to let the user own their own things. Even free site Tumblr does this:

First, "Subscriber shall own all Subscriber Content that Subscriber contributes to the Site," which clarifies the user, not Tumblr, owns it.

Second, the user "grants ... license ... to use, copy, cache, publish, display, distribute," which lets Tumblr host it on their web and caching servers, "modify, create derivative works and store such Subscriber Content", which lets them make thumbnails and posts out of it, "and to allow others to do so ('Content License')", which lets them use a CDN, "in order to provide the Services."

The key is "in order to provide the Services." Outside of providing Tumblr, you own your stuff, and they can't do anything else with it.

Tumblr's in New York and has great lawyers. Pinterest should be publicly shamed for burying their non-standard claim of the right to sell your creative works in the middle of a ToS.


It does boil down "if you don't like it, don't use it" and that wasn't an attack on you at all. What you said reminded me very much of what I've seen others say on similar topics and those people really were acting entitled. No, there wasn't a tone of entitlement in what you said to answer your question. I wasnt singling you out, I was speaking generally and if I sound condescending it's because I'm really tired of seeing people pick on TOS agreements. It's just too easy. I might also just be in a mood tonight but I would never go after one person in particular (usually I should say) so I'm sorry if that came off like I was going after you personally.


If Pinterest's business model is based on copyright violation, I don't expect them to do anything except dry up and blow away.

It's not like I am obligated to recognize Pinterest's right to exist. Some companies are based on questionable or illegal practices, period.


So your argument is that everyone has bad TOSes and therefore we should just ignore it?


It's one thing to find something truly damning in a TOS and something else entirely to nitpick standard boilerplate legalese meant to protect companies from the very same people who nitpick the TOS in the first place.

I know it's cool to be contrarian around here but give me a break. Look at this like a human, not a robot, and you'll see this is a mountain made out of a mole hill. Not saying you in particular are looking at this like a robot, I was speaking in general there.


> It's one thing to find something truly damning in a TOS and something else entirely to nitpick standard boilerplate legalese meant to protect companies from the very same people who nitpick the TOS in the first place.

If "we have non-exclusive rights to use and sell everything you post on our site and you take all responsibility if infringement does occur" is now "standard boilerplate legalese" then actually yes I do think people should be complaining, and not just at Pinterest.

I suppose ultimately they could be going for the YouTube style model of stimulating large amounts of infringement, and then making DMCA compliance easy, but also offering content owners the ability to profit from advertising along side that originally infringing content.

I don't think that model is inherently a bad thing, but it can make life very tedious for users and for smaller content producers so people should know what they are getting into. The history of YouTube monetization has been a total mess for a lot of people, and it seems to regularly go through new rounds of turmoil as they tweak their algorithms or more aggressive content owners join the market.


If we never complain about these things they'll never get fixed.


Do they get fixed though? If we don't pick our battles we run the risk of being seen as a bunch of whiners and being written off as such. Do these things need fixing? Is it the TOS that need fixing or is it the conditions under which such agreements are made necessary that need fixing. Maybe we're focusing our efforts in the wrong place.


Forget copyright for a moment.

When their ToS says "Pin your own content here", then says, "Thank you, now we can do anything we want to with it, including sell it," that's going too far.

That would be like Flickr claiming they (not you) had the right to sell your photos. Or Rackspace claiming they had the right to sell anything you posted on your web site.

This ToS is an extreme overreach, and your casual dismissal of that extremity is itself cautionary -- what can happen when one becomes too saturated with the 70+ hours of ToS reading a typical Internet user would have to do each year to keep up.


> "Thank you, now we can do anything we want to with it, including sell it,"

If this part (obviously this isn't the exact phrasing) was removed, then they wouldn't have the right to serve your content on their site. They couldn't use a screenshot containing your content in any advertising they did. They couldn't use your content alongside advertising. They couldn't do a lot of things they do now.

Allowing someone to upload something doesn't inherently give you any rights to use that content. If you remove the parts you are complaining about, then they can't do anything that they are doing.


'Aait, you put your effort where you think is best, and leave us to pursue what we think is important.


I'm an amateur photographer, and I wasn't too concerned about this until I read that by Pinning something, their TOS says I am granting them rights to sell my work.

I don't like that very much.

  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.

The rest just seems like standard CYA stuff.


Again, this is 100% boilerplate. YouTube, Reddit, Facebook, etc. will all have similar clauses.

See for example section 6.C in YouTube's ToS. http://www.youtube.com/static?gl=US&template=terms

Why? Because without this blanket waiver it opens them up to all kinds of legal issues since a core mechanic of their site is re-pinning.

If you upload a photo to their site and someone else re-pins it, did that person just violate your copyright?

If Pinterest implements a "most popular pins" page and features one of your photos on that page, did they just violate your copyright?

Yes, you can come up with legalese for each potential scenario, but it really does complicate things. It's easier for them to just have a blanket clause and act in good faith, than open themselves up to the possibility of accidentally using someone's work in a way their ToS didn't whitelist.


Saying it's boilerplate doesn't make it right. It's scammy.


What do you propose instead?


Be explicit about what forms of (re)distribution are allowed instead of going for a blanket license. Where appropriate, also be explicit about what is not allowed.

It shouldn't say much more than "you give us the right to use your content to fulfill the services you ask us to provide, and you have the right to remove your content at any time."


I like that answer, because it is clear and doesn't seem like a sneaky over-reach.


I guarantee that every site you use which involves UGC has a similar clause in their Terms of Service. You're living in la-la land if you think that's going to change, honestly.

More important than the terms is the character of the founders and the company. Do you trust Pinterest to do right by you? Flickr has a similar clause, for example, but photographers still trust them.

If you don't trust Pinterest, that's fine. But in that case, do you really think changing some words on one of their pages is going to make a difference in their overall behavior?


Yes, I see you are right. I guess it seems like I'm more likely to run afoul of the clause with Pinterest. Youtube is like "Funniest Home Videos," Pinterest has gallery like qualities.

Your examples after the link don't seem to have much to do with selling the works though. In Youtube's case, it's to allow them to advertise with overlays. Maybe that is where Pinterest is going as well.


>only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

That is the key line everyone is skipping over. It limits the rest of the clause quite a bit.


As a content owner, if I post my own stuff then I've still given them the right to sell it through the Site/App/Service by these terms.

It provides some limits, but not the ones consistent with the service they claim to offer. They can start selling mugs with my photos whenever they like. The horror :O


IANAL, but as I recall you are practically required to have such a licensing clause, lest someone:

1. Pin their own copyrighted work 2. Wait for someone else to view it on Pinterest 3. Sue Pinterest for distributing or performing it.


I am SO fucking sick of douchebag angst driven attacks by sniveling failure-driven wannabees on legalese in terms of service that are essential to make any and every successful consumer Internet site, application or platform work.

If you don't like it, don't use it. Go back to the pre-social web with your mom and grandmother. If you are going to criticize it or upvote it, think for a moment about the reasoning behind it. Yesterday Path. Today Pinterest. Let's hope someone else makes something great for you to kick in the teeth tomorrow.

Shut the fuck up already.


don't know why im responding to obvious troll. but they are really no better than megaupload at this point. Redistributing copy righted material without permission. Its a far bigger legal matter.




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