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How to Be a Responsible Pinterest User

by Guest Blogger  |  
April 26, 2012

A guest post by Matt Powers of Blue Soda Promo.

With the dramatic flair of a Tennessee Williams character---Blanche comes to mind---a Georgia photographer became a viral blog sensation with her post “Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards.”

Business Insider picked up the story, and a shockwave began, with folks calling Pinterest the Satan to the copyright lords. For folks who don't know what Pinterest is, here's a quick explanation. Pinterest is the newest social media tool that allows you to post photographs or video from the Web and categorize them in elegant three-column grid boards.

The pilfering, posting photographer read Pinterest Terms of Use, which basically says if lawyers come a-knockin' because of content you post, you’re on your own. This seemed to surprise the blog writer, and she immediately panicked. It would seem obvious that posting content you don’t own on Pinterest, as well as WordPress, Facebook or any social media tool, could quickly run you afoul of the law.

Yet, when I looked through Pinterest boards, major blogs, and YouTube videos, I suspect that the majority of bloggers, social media users,and Pinterest users are like the Georgia blogger---cluelessly posting copyrighted work and violating copyright laws.

Pinterest has remained largely silent on the issue, brushing off controversy as it grows. But ignorance of the law is no defense.

So here are some quick tips on posting responsibly.

  • Post your own content---and you only have to worry about battling social media giants for the right to use it. (Both Pinterest and Facebook claim rights to all content posted on their sites, though Facebook isn’t as draconian as Pinterest. I predict Pinterest will change its terms.)

  • If you aren't good at creating your own images, check out these open-use image websites: Public Domain Pictures, Creative Commons, Corbis Images, and Web Design Lessons.

  • When in doubt, avoid using any image with an iffy copyright status. You could get caught like the copywriters at Webcopyplus who had to pay $4,000 for a photo they just grabbed from the web. “Well, frankly, we screwed up,” Webcopyplus wrote about its costly boo-boo. “It’s an expensive lesson on copyright laws that we wish to share with other marketers, so you don’t make the same mistake.”

Using royalty-free, commercial stock photography, and creative commons photos for your blog could avoid that most painful instance where you actually have to speak to a lawyer. Next blog post? How about the $2.5 million fine leveled against a blogger for defamation. Yikes.

Matt Powers is an Internet marketer at Blue Soda Promo. BSP imprints logos on items from custom koozies, to sunglasses at ridiculously low prices. We make your brand POP!

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  • by Anne Fri Apr 27, 2012 via blog

    Great post, Matt! Other options to consider would be asking the poster for permission before using their content and giving credit to your sources (you can read my full rational on the Cookerly blog:

    Asking for permission could open the gates for a relationship with that artist, blogger or professional that can lead to new opportunities—even if he or she declines. And crediting your image sources is a good practice on Pinterest and elsewhere. Of course, it is always best to consult with an attorney on copyright questions.

    Thanks for the article!

  • by Elizabeth Traub Fri Apr 27, 2012 via blog

    Deep breath, deep sigh. Does having a disclaimer on your website add any kind of security in the content swiped all over the web? Where is the software for keeping your content under lock and key. It's there, but not to heavily publicized. I have had new clients with all proprietary information on their websites exposed in video, pics. etc. No longer are "information" sights safe.

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