Pinterest use, growth and copyright issues

Posted by – March 22, 2012


Any doubts about Pinterest being the social media break-out success of the first half of 2012 were further challenged by the ComScore numbers discussed today at Poynter. February saw site visits shoot up 52 percent, which is just astounding. Personally, I continue to see a faster adoption rate among my friends and colleagues than I saw with Path, FourSquare or even Tumblr. That has been surprising. The variety of ways people have come up with for using their accounts has been even more interesting.

Poynter’s Jeff Sonderman points to MindShift, where educational strategies get highlighted. He also links to a fine list of newspapers on Pinterest. Notable examples include:

The Chicago Tribune, who shares boards with aspects of Chicago culture depicted through snippets from their photo archives
The Columbia Missourian, who shares photos and inside-the-office glimpses of its staff
The Guardian, which is all over the place

This brings me to my larger point.

The strangest aspect of Pinterest to me has always been the murky official place that pins are supposed to inhabit between two key stipulations in the site’s Terms of Service and etiquette recommendations. Every user is first of all expected to be “the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content.” I read this and assume that, “OK, I just need to stick photos I have taken or have obtained permission to post.” (This is not a condition that seems to apply to most pins.)

Then there is the other side of the sandwich regarding the header “Avoid Self Promotion”: “Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.” So don’t pin only things that are yours.

I know I’m not the only or first person to point this out, but they really need to find a better way to position themselves. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann does seem to be keenly aware of this condition, though, and acknowledged as much to Fortune, offering assurance that a ToS update is incoming.

I’m anxious to see what the wording looks like when all is said and done.

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