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Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Uploading Images on Pinterest Can Get You Sued?

In Entrepreneurs and Social Media, Social Media, Technology Issues and the Law on February 2012 at 10:22 pm

Pintrerest, one of the fastest growing sites in the social media world has created an interesting problem for users.  

While scouring the web, you found high quality images on the latest trends in gothic interior decoration that captured your aesthetic. You save them onto your computer and upload them on your Pinterest profile.  It immediately enhances your profile and attracts a legion of followers. Pinterest finds them unique enough to sell the images to third parties. In four weeks you are served with a demand letter by counsel for an interior decoration company that owns the photos for damages, threatening a lawsuit if you don’t pay up. What happened?

In a nutshell, you violated Pinterest’s User Agreement, and Pinterest isn’t responsible. The Boston Business Journal quickly determined it was better to be safe than sorry and within a day of posting images it used in its coverage of real estate development it deleted them. A quick analysis of Pinterest’s terms quickly leads to one conclusion: you must own or otherwise have the authority to grant Pinterest’s parent company “a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit” the image.

In simpler terms, you must either be the original owner or else have permission from the owner to allow Pinterest to utilize the image in any of the ways the user agreement sets out.

By using Pinterest, you are agreeing to something that many people and companies don’t fully realize: copyright ownership or licensing. In the social networking era, it’s become far too easy to copy images strewn across the web and make them our own. The problem is that it may open you up to liability. With the courts imposing fines of up to $150,000 for each song uploaded that is otherwise owned by a record label or recording artist, it’s not entirely impossible for owners of images to request damages that match the commercial value and potential of the images used. The law is still evolving in this realm, but with service providers and platforms such as Pinterest shielded from liability arising from its users’ conduct, it’s become all too important to be careful. If not, you may be paying a steep price for your Pinterest profile.

–  Sheheryar Sardar, BroadStreet Times

Sheheryar Sardar, Esq., is a Partner at Sardar Law Firm LLC with substantial experience in entrepreneurship.  For more information on contract law or digital media law, contact: Sardar Law Firm at

*Originally published in BroadStreet Times.  Reprinted with permission.