Over last weekend, Pinterest quietly updated its terms of service to make clear that the social media phenomenon is not interested in selling member content.
The email to current users and accompanying blog post explained unequivocally:
Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
As the image-sharing site exploded in membership to reach upwards of 12 million, many users and potential users began expressing concerns that Pinterest would sell images that users had uploaded to the site — or in other words, usurp users’ copyrights on featured photos.
At first the company stood behind its terms, which previously provided that Cold Brew Labs, which owns Pinterest, reserved the right to, among other things, sell user content:
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.
Then, seeing that the backlash was not dying down, released “nopin” code that website owners could include on their site if they wished to disable the “pin it” feature that would allow Pinterest users to lift images. Photo-haven Flickr have taken Pinterest up on this offer; if a Pinterest user tries to pin an image from a site with “nopin” code activated, the following message appears on the screen:
This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!
Now, however, the company took things one step further and made it clear that it’s just not interested in selling user content — and users shouldn’t be concerned with giving up their copyright protection. Moreover, users are also prohibited from commercial use of images as, according to the new terms, users are granted:
a license to use the Service, including accessing and viewing Pinterest Content, for your personal, noncommercial use to allow you to express yourself, discuss public issues, report on issues of public concern, engage in parody and as expressly permitted by the features of the Service.
Incidentally, a separate concern has been fears of users’ being sued by copyright owners for pinning or repinning images; this even led one photographer/lawyer to write a blog post about delete her Pinterest boards. This issue has not been specifically addressed by Pinterest’s changes in terms of service (though the “simpler tools” to report copyright infringement certainly speak to this), but as Christopher Danzig at Above the Law notes, several social media sites, including YouTube and Tumblr, have similar policies; “[a]s a practical matter, though, no one wants to sue a 15-year-old girl in Tennessee for posting Justin Bieber photos she doesn’t own (unless you are the RIAA, but that is a different story).”
Besides, as we’ve mentioned here at LegalZoom, “Shareholic.com reports ‘Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined’” — so maybe some people don’t mind so much if their photos are being pinned and shared.
What do you think? Are you a Pinterest user? What do you think of the new terms? Are you concerned about possibly being sued for pinning someone else’s copyrighted image?