Friday, March 23, 2012


When I practiced law, I generally took only family law and probate cases. In the time since I've been on sabbatical, I decided to change practice areas; I intend to practice bankruptcy and foreclosure defense now. I am now learning these two entirely new areas of the law. I did not take courses in either area during law school (though I now wish I had!). So honestly, I still don't know that much about either area. Although the state bar associations frown generally prevent attorneys from claiming they specialize, we kinda do. Would you want me to handle your personal injury case? No. I worked as a legal assistant for a personal injury attorney for about five years, but trust me when I tell you that you do *NOT* want to be my guinea pig in this area--or any other area in which I have no in-depth knowledge or experience. Likewise, you probably should not ask a personal injury attorney to handle your family law matter. You wouldn't go to a urologist if you had a foot problem, right?

I say all that to say this: I have NO knowledge or experience in copyright law. I didn't take a class in copyright law; I haven't practiced in any copyright-related cases; and I don't remember covering copyright in any required class nor studying it for the Florida bar exam. But the copyright issues arising from the use of Pinterest worry me. I get that most home and craft bloggers want their pictures pinned on Pinterest. But I also know that on occasion, I have pinned items that were for sale, but that I noted one could make oneself more cheaply. If I were many crafters-for-profit, I wouldn't want someone pinning my pictures.

I'd never really thought about this until recently when I took a more in-depth look at the Pinterest terms of service. I'm not terribly thrilled with Pinterest's assertion that we should not self-promote by pinning only items we upload, but that we should pin only what we own the copyrights to or have permission to pin. I haven't pinned anything from my own blog because I am just not doing that. And I don't own the rights to any picture I have pinned. The web sites I generally pin from have Pinterest themselves and encourage pinning of their pictures. But I don't feel safe because any blogger could change her mind at any time, and what proof do I have that she previously encouraged pinning of her pictures (without jumping through a bunch of hoops to get that evidence, anyway)? And Pinterest's indemnification clause means that if Pinterest is sued for one of my pins, I am going to be in BIG trouble.

So do I leave Pinterest after bookmarking all the sites I pinned, or do I sort through each of my boards and somehow confirm and ensure proof that I have permission to pin?

Oy. Thoughts from the crowd? Am I being paranoid? Or is Pinterest the new Napster?



  1. I just saw something about this the other day, and it does make me wonder how on earth Pinterest can be a viable idea-sharing "community" if everything you pin/repin is a lawsuit looking for a place to happen. I confess I didn't do more than skim the legalese (no, I'm not going to post obscene stuff, etc., etc.), so I didn't pick up on the scary aspects. I did wonder what you thought of this! Mercifully, I don't have a ton of pins, but I did go through a few and delete some. But I was wondering if the damage is already done, i.e., if I pinned something and someone else pinned from my pin, but then I deleted it, do I still risk a lawsuit if a mad blogger/website decides to sue someone? I'd love to hear your thoughts when you have time!

    P.S. I love it when you're on a blogging jag!

    1. I am now posting pins either from sites that give explicit permission to pin (example: or from sites with bloggers who are pinning on Pinterest themselves because I figure they are not going to file a lawsuit against me for use that mimics their own. I am putting asterisks beside the pins I have posted since my new policy or that I have checked after instituting it.

      As you know, I have a LOT of pins, and I am already deleting some that I have featured here (like the ironing board storage idea). At least for the pins I deleted, my original pin disappeared, and the person who repinned now appears as though he or she originally pinned it. So I think deleting is okay. Too, I *THINK* (I have NOT done any statute or case law research!) that a safe harbor provision may apply. If so, if the copyright owner asks you to take down the pin, take it down.

      I have over 300 followers on some of my boards. I curated those boards for myself to help me plan my home and my life, but I also got a bit of a self esteem booster when so many people repinned my stuff (one of my pins has over 7,000 repins). Either way, I hate to dismantle the boards.

      I do wish I could direct my followers here to check out the stuff I try! I feel safer here because I can give credit where credit is due and I never use others' pictures. But how many people will visit a blog versus visiting Pinterest? Frankly, Pinterest is more fun. :)

    2. I just deleted a duplicate pin, and the repins for that one still show me as the original pinner. So deleting the pins is not a perfect solution. Perhaps I will no longer be listed as the original pinner if I delete my account?

      I think my husband thinks I am worrying about nothing. I don't want to infringe on anyone's copyright. I just want to be creative and use others' creativity to enhance my home and my life! :)


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