Pinterest Sparks Controversy in IP Community

Mar 28, 2012

pinterestFounders of the popular website Pinterest, Paul Sciarra, Ben Silbermann, and Evan Sharp simply wanted to create a place where people could collect things online.  They had no idea that it would take off with such force. 

For anyone who might not be familiar, Pinterest is a virtual collection of images from all over the web.  Users can pin photos onto a variety of boards, view what friends have posted, and re-pin what others have shared onto their own pages.  Now, people are using the site to plan their weddings, get ideas for gifts, and share DIY projects and products they love.    

Among the general population, the site has exploded into a social media sensation in just a couple of years.   In the IP world, however, Pinterest is a very controversial topic.  It could promote copyright violation through the unauthorized sharing of copyrighted work, and some are even calling it the next Napster.  

So far, Pinterest has been quick to respond to any allegations presented, and warns users repeatedly in the Terms of Service that “PINTEREST takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any User Content that you or any other User or third party posts or sends over the Service. You are solely responsible for your User Content and the consequences of posting or publishing it…”

With a revised set of the Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy, and a link for companies to embed on their sites to enforce “No Pinning,” Pinterest is working hard to further protect patent, copyright, and trademark holders and diffuse the issue.  The site has also provided simple tools for a person to report any copyright or trademark infringements, sending a notice to the user to remove the post.    

Despite its controversial set-up, however, Pinterest has raised over $37 million in investments and has reached an astounding 3 million plus users.  What’s your take on the new social media sensation?


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