Everyone’s favorite visually-oriented social network Pinterest has exploded in popularity in recent months, but there is still some confusion over the site’s usage. Mainly, users want to be able to legally use Pinterest without having to worry about copyright infringement. As you may know, Pinterest is a network that allows users to ‘Pin’ media to virtual bulletin boards. Yet some lawyers are issuing warnings about Pinterest, saying that a copyright claim is imminent if users continue to use the site as they have been. With the site being the third largest social media site behind Facebook and Twitter, that could amount to a lot of lawsuits if users aren’t careful. To keep your account from getting pinned with a copyright suit, adhere to the following Pinterest rules every time you login and pin.
Use Your Own Content
This is by far the easiest way to avoid legal trouble on Pinterest – Confirm that own every image you pin, plain and simple. Examples given are snaps taken with a smartphone or photos that you take of your own products. Seems simple enough, right? Not so fast.
Most users don’t visit the site to post their own content. Of course some do – Brides showing off their latest wedding, chefs showing off their latest creations, photographers building a portfolio and of course businesses promoting their brands – but most people visit the site to pin and repin imagery they find on boards that are not their own. What are you supposed to do in those instances?
Never Pin Images You Don’t Feel Confident About
Jonathan Pink, an intellectual property lawyer in California recommends that you never pin an image that you don’t own the rights to. He does say that there are exceptions. For example, if you manage to find photos that were taken prior to 1923, those are free and clear to use. Isn’t that a relief?
He also claims that recipes are low risk and shouldn’t post any problems for anyone who’s looking to use Pinterest legally.
About Pinterest Legality – In a Nutshell
The big issue is whether or not the Pinterest user is trying to profit off of the images in question. Pinterest will begin cracking down on any users that use images in ways in which they are not entitled. Examples include users making picture books or calendars out of the images and other media that can be repackaged and sold.
The best thing you can do as a business owner is to proceed with caution and make sure the images you use aren’t going to be fought over in the future. While that may sound vague, it is, just like the pinning rules on the Pinterest platform.
Don’t Just Sell or Promote – Try to be Informative and Entertaining
Just because Pinterest has a different layout than Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean that it should be treated any differently. Today’s social network users don’t like to be sold to at all. The old ways of pitching and self-promotion are long over. Today you have to use attraction marketing to bring your prospects and buyers into the fold. You must entice them with thought-provoking, funny or otherwise interesting images from all around the web. Instead of selling products and services, you are helping to evoke emotion and build a connection with your Pinterest followers.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due
Another way to use Pinterest legally is to always cite your sources. If you use someone else’s photograph, name the photographer. If you use someone else’s recipe, name the chef. If you always let your users know where you found the images in question as you meander about Pinterest, you shouldn’t have any problems using images that don’t necessarily belong to you.
Ask for Permission
As long as you’re not trying to profit off of the image in question, the original owner should have no problem with you re-pinning an image. The more people see the image, the more publicity the company or original owner gets. It’s a win-win situation. Just make sure that you cite your sources, as we mentioned above, and make it known that you’re merely trying to educate, inform and entertain your audience. Who could ever say no to that?
Use the above advice to use Pinterest legally so that you never have to see the inside of a court room. While it’s rare that a case will ever be brought, it could very well happen. Protect yourself, remain on the safe side and when in doubt always ask for permission. That’s the best way to maneuver about Pinterest without breaking the law.