Pinterest Copyright Considerations For Marketers

copyright considerations for marketersOk, you’re a marketer, still trying to determine if Pinterest is right for you, and you heard a boogey man story about copyright problems. You’re asking,

Is Using Pinterest Going To Get Me In Trouble?”

(Although I’m not a lawyer, and this should not be considered legal advice…)

Let’s review the facts, and then you can decide…

Let’s say we did violate someone’s copyright. What happens next? The copyright holder has 3 choices, according to a great Electronic Frontier Foundation article on this issue. The copyright owner can:

  1. Let is slide.
  2. Sue you.
  3. Submit a DMCA Take Down Notice.

We think Youtube is a good case study for this issue, so it’s helpful to know what the common practice has been there when copyrights appear to be violated. As a general rule, again, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Article, a DMCA Take Down Notice is the most common response because it is 1) Fast and 2) Inexpensive.

So, could you be sued if you make a mistake? Yes. Does that happen in real life? The Electronic Frontier People said they don’t know of ANY cases except a couple rare one’s involving leaked movie trailers.

[If the Copyright owner is getting massive referral traffic & brand exposure via Pinterest would they even want to file one of these notices? No. But still, they could. Let’s think worst case.]

2. Pinterest has outlined it’s process for receiving a DMCA Take Down Notice, and given directions to the copyright owners about how to move forward with their complaint. [see the Pinterest information at this link.]

3. You, as a marketer, if you did violate someone’s copyright & a DMCA notice was sent to Pinterest, would be informed by Pinterest. [Read the details here.]

4. You, as a marketer, if you are repeatedly violating people’s copyright, will be kicked off Pinterest, [again, read the details here.]

5. Remember, Pinterest is no different than other sites regarding this issue, except it generates massive referral traffic, (which is good for copyright owners).

6. Have you noticed that you cannot pin something without leaving a Comment in the Comment box? Know why? [This is a guess on my part, but still, let’s ponder it.] Under the Fair Use defense, you can claim either Commentary or Criticism as a ‘Transformative’ use, (Google it). So, if you Pin something and comment, it could be argued that you are making a ‘Transformative’ use. [Read all about it at the Standford University Copyright & Fair Use Overview pages – Yeah, I think they might know a thing or two about Internet Copyright Law.] Here is a quote from that site,

The underlying rationale of this rule is that the public reaps benefits from your review, which is enhanced by including some of the copyrighted material. “

I’m not saying be dumb. In fact, here are a few tips for how to be wise as a marketer:

1. Create your own original content, brand it nicely, place it on your website, and PRAY that it goes viral on Pinterest.

2. When pinning other items, like products that aren’t yours, express your opinion via comment, (which is generally what a Pinboard is about).

3. Keep up to date, and learn as much as you can about best practices. You might like this article about Best Practices In Online Video Use. We think it applies pretty well.

4. Follow the Four Paths of Pinterest User Behavior, that I outlined in a recent post. Maybe you’re the one getting infringed on, rather than infringing!

5. If you ever get a DMCA Take Down Notice, comply.

6. When you see something cool in Pinterest, before you repin it, make sure the link goes back to an original website, thereby providing referral links & traffic to the copyright owner.

7. If you need an image for something you’re making just Google, “Public Domain Images”, and find something to use that is available in the Public Domain.

Let’s be clear. The main story with Pinterest is IT’S THE FASTEST GROWING WEBSITE IN THE HISTORY OF THE INTERNET!

Ignore all stupid drama. Become a learning machine, and get crackin on a smart Pinterest Marketing plan!

Have an opinion? Tell me what you think, and if I’ve gotten anything wrong, let me know!

Jason Miles is the CEO of Liberty Jane Clothing, a Seattle based ecommerce company, and the author of the Bestselling Pinterest Power book - the definitive book on Pinterest marketing. He regularly partners with leading online groups and sites including, the American Marketing Association, IBM's Connectchat, Social Media Examiner, Profnet, Marketingprofs, and similar groups.

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