The potential threat to Pinterest users

Jennifer Collins Mar 15, 2012

David Brancaccio: The website is called Pinterest — as in, to pin up something of interest. The fast-growing social network that lets you set up digital scrapbooks from pictures and other scraps you find online.

But, do Pinterest users have the right to show off stuff that in many cases they did not create? Jennifer Collins tries to pin down the answer.


Jennifer Collins: Kirsten Kowalski is a photographer and a lawyer. She took down some of her own Pinterest posts because she worried she could be sued for copyright infringement.

Kirsten Kowalski: The very first rule is don’t pin anything you don’t own. And I thought, well god, everyone out there is using the site improperly. Everyone.

Kowalski has gotten lots of attention from a blog post where she compared Pinterest to the infamous music file-sharing service Napster.

Kowalski: Napster. You know, they put out a site where use of the site turned out to be something that was not legal.

Jack Lerner: This is the ultimate mountain out of a molehill situation.

Jack Lerner is an intellectual property professor at USC. He says many Pinterest posts tend to be low resolution photos that link back to the original works.

Lerner: And by using a shrunken version the courts have said that’s likely to be fair use.

Lerner says Pinterest is much more like another site people use to share content YouTube.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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