Why You May Want to Think Twice Before Using Pinterest
After copyright concerns raised, site wants to avoid becoming 'next Napster'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2012 1:45 PM CDT
A woman looks at the internet site Pinterest.com on March 13, 2012.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Pinterest quickly racked up millions of users, all of whom love sharing Internet finds by "pinning" images to the website. But one Pinterest user, who also happens to be a photographer and lawyer, delved into copyright law and the site's terms of use—and discovered that Pinterest protects itself while leaving users liable for any copyright violations that occur when pinning someone else's work. Kirsten Kowalski's post about her discovery quickly went viral (and was, of course, pinned many times), prompting Pinterest's co-founder and CEO to call her—and discuss how Pinterest can avoid becoming the next Napster, the music-sharing site that was shut down by a court in 2001 over copyright issues.

"He seemed very sincere and was reassuring that some changes are coming," Kowalski tells the Wall Street Journal. One idea they discussed involved a button that would allow a Pinterest user to ask a content owner for permission to pin. Right now, the issue is that "their lawyers say you can't pin anything that you don't own … but the site is saying you can. It's very confusing to users," she explains. "The quick version of the law is [that] you can't use someone else's stuff." Some photographers have been irked at their pictures showing up on Pinterest, and Flickr added an opt-out last month for users who want to make their images un-pinnable. The Journal also has some tips for using Pinterest safely, and Kowalski's full blog post is here.