Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pay Attention To The Details

By Samuel Lewis Published in The Business of Photography
Pay Attention To The Details
Paradoxically, Pinterest's user agreement potentially makes its users liable for claims of infringement even though a particular user's use of the image may constitute fair use. Under the agreement, Pinterest disclaims all liability relating to its users' use of the service. It also obligates users to indemnify and defend Pinterest from any claims relating to the users' use of the service, the content pinned or any other breach of Pinterest's user agreement. If the user didn't have the right to grant a license to Pinterest, and Pinterest is sued for infringement, the indemnification provision makes the user responsible for not only the amount of any judgment awarded against Pinterest for infringement, but also for the cost of defending Pinterest against the claims of infringement. It was this scenario that greatly troubled Kowalski. As she explained in her blog, the indemnification provision means that "if some photographer out there decides that he or she does not want you using [the] images as 'inspiration' or otherwise and decides to sue you and Pinterest over your use of the [the] images, you will have to hire a lawyer for yourself and YOU will have to hire a lawyer for Pinterest and fund the costs of defending both of you in court. Not only that, but if a court finds that you have, in fact, violated copyrights laws, you will pay all damages assessed against you and all damages assessed against Pinterest. OUCH."

Pros On Pinterest

Some website operators and content creators don't mind Pinterest, primarily because the "pinning" of content from their websites may result in additional visitors to their websites. Tampa-based photographer James Broome has used Pinterest since September, 2011, and his experience with the service has been a positive one. As Broome explained on a message board, "[I]t's nice to get images repinned and to see the traffic to my site from the looks."

However, not all photographers have shared Broome's experience. Ironically, some photographers have encountered problems when "pinning" their own images from their own websites, and in some cases, users are presented with a sufficiently ominous warning to dissuade them from following the link or seeing the source website. Al Diaz, a staff photographer for The Miami Herald, "pinned" his own images, which were either published on his blog,, or the Herald's website, or both. However, when a Pinterest user—even one that "re-pinned" one of Diaz's images—attempts to view the source website, Pinterest presents a warning page with a large exclamation point and bold-faced word "Warning!" together with the message that "[t]his link redirects visitors to another site—it may link to spam or other inappropriate content." At the bottom of the warning page, three options are provided: Back to Pinterest, Continue to Link, More Info. If More Info is selected, Pinterest advises that "[u]sers have reported that this links to spam or other inappropriate content." Despite sending several messages to Pinterest's support team attempting to ascertain why his blog and the Herald's website generate such ominous warnings, Diaz has yet to receive a response from Pinterest.

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