Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pay Attention To The Details

By Samuel Lewis Published in The Business of Photography
Pay Attention To The Details
Pinterest's user agreement also potentially makes its users liable for defending claims of infringement for which Pinterest may be able to claim a limited immunity. The service has positioned itself to take advantage of the safe harbor for online providers contained within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which is now part of the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended). Under this safe harbor, an online provider can avoid liability for copyright infringement if the online provider registers an agent to receive notices of copyright infringement, and "responds expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing...." Thus, while Pinterest may be able to avoid liability for its users' infringing activities, no such safe harbor exists for its users. Nothing in Pinterest's user agreement requires it to take advantage of the safe harbor and, in fact, Pinterest's copyright policy states that "Pinterest will take whatever action, in its sole discretion, it deems appropriate..." after receiving a notice of alleged infringement.

Worth The Risk?

Ultimately, the decision of whether the benefits of using Pinterest outweigh the risks are very much a business decision and any such decision should be as informed as possible. It's also important to keep in mind that Pinterest, like many other social-media sites, is constantly evolving. Pinterest has already revised its user agreement once in response to complaints from its users, and it stands to reason that the user agreement may continue to change over time.

In response to Murabayashi's blog article, San Francisco-based photographer Jim Goldstein posted a comment giving the issue some perspective. "I gave up on Twitter after two weeks, thinking it was useless.

I came back a few months later and found great use in it. The lesson learned is that it's important to be open-minded and to keep a watchful eye on the service as it evolves. What Pinterest is today may not be Pinterest in the future. Social media web sites are malleable, both in how the founders shape them and how end users creatively use them. The future could be equally bright or dim with Pinterest, but I like to think half that equation falls on the photographer using the service. Photographers need to be creative in other ways beyond the camera."

Even if Pinterest ultimately proves itself to be a valuable tool to photographers, serious consideration needs to be given to the user agreement and whether the intended use of the service comports with the agreement. No matter how great the utility, if the service can't be used without violating the user agreement, the only prudent course is to wait until Pinterest sufficiently revises the terms so that they're consistent with the manner in which the service is used.

Samuel Lewis is a board-certified intellectual property law specialist and partner at Feldman Gale, P.A., in Miami, Fla., and a professional photographer who has covered sporting events for more than 25 years. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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