The impact of Pinterest on Copyright Laws
The traditional realm of copyright is being tested in a world where “liking”, “retweeting”, and “pinning” have become part of everyday life.
Copyright vests exclusively with the creator of the work or in the copyright holder. These rights are considered economic rights and may be licensed or assigned to third parties by way of agreement, which attach to the works even after the assignment of rights to a third party. The creator must, therefore, always be credited.
Where an image is “pinned” directly from the original source, the link to the source will be attached to the “pin”, visible to all other Pinterest users. Where an image has been downloaded from its original source and uploaded to Pinterest, however, the Pinterest user is provided with the opportunity, and not the requirement, to provide the link to the original source. Needless to say, there are many unsourced images being “repined” on a daily basis without royalties being paid to the copyright owner.
Pinterest itself is protected against any claims of copyright infringement in terms of s512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, meaning that a copyright holder’s sole remedy against Pinterest is to lodge a copyright complaint with Pinterest who will then investigate the complaint and remove the image from its platform. The copyright holder will then need to institute direct action against any Pinterest user who has infringed his/her copyright in order recover any damages suffered as a result.