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New Photography Copyright Infringement Challenges with Pinterest

Photographers have long battled copyright infringement of their works, and the popularity of the internet has made . copyright infringement of photography even more .pervasive.  Many internet users are not familiar with copyright laws, and snatch photos from other sites without first obtaining permission or buying a license that provides them with the right to use the photo.

What is Pinterest?

Photographers may find discovering and policing infringement of their works compounded with the wildly popular emergence of www.Pinterest.com.  As popular as Facebook, MySpace, Linked In, Twitter, and other social media networks, Pinterest is a new and upcoming type of social media network.  It involves creating web pages that contain your favorite photographs, pinned onto your “board,” and then categorized so you can find them later.  Pinterest describes itself as “an online pinboard.  Organize and share things you love.”  It enables users to share an assemblage of countless photos and ideas with other people through their own Pinterest page, and by sending their Pinterest web pages to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

With four million users, Pinterest is growing quickly and has attracted $37.5 million in venture capital funding and use from large corporate brand names such as Lands’ End, Procter & Gamble, The Wall Street Journal, and Whole Foods, according to CBS News.

Copyright infringement Issues

According to a CBS News article however, Pinterest has also added to its site some legal language that addresses copyright infringement through a disclaimer and a copyright page.  It informs photographers about one recourse that Pinterest provides: submitting infringement claims to its “Designated Copyright Agent,” which may result in Pinterest removing the copyrighted work being reported from the board.  Pinterest also warns users to familiarize themselves with copyright laws and provides a link to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

You may wonder how Pinterest can police its site against copyright infringement; it doesn’t.  Pinterest only responds to notices and claims and, ultimately, users of the site are the main targets for a photography copyright infringement suit, not Pinterest.  It remains unclear whether Pinterest itself has liability as a joint or contributory (“vicarious”) infringer, and time will tell. For now, professional photographers bear the burden of discovering and reporting a copyright infringement themselves, and deciding whether to seek damages from Pinterest as a vicarious infringer

If you are a photographer with copyright infringement issues that are hurting your business, contact a copyright infringement lawyer about protecting your rights.

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