Use Pinterest at Your Own (Legal) Risk


I was all set to give you my take on Pinterest, and much of it was positive. Even though it has no redeeming value for my PR/marketing business (other than giving me a presence), I’m well aware of how it can impact brands – maybe your brand, especially if you sell something with visual appeal. Jewelry. Clothing. Shoes. Interior design. Food. Photography. Art.

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past couple of months, you know that the social media site Pinterest is taking the Internet by storm. Its users, mostly women, are flocking to the site in droves to establish a presence and, in some cases, promote their products, by sharing their favorite photos. They do this by “pinning” them on “boards.” You title your boards yourself; i.e, books, art, fashion, recipes, travel destinations, etc. So far, so good, right?

Stop the presses. A blog post on PR Daily about the legal ramifications of pinning all those photos without the requisite photo credit stopped me dead in my tracks. The site’s terms require that people who pin photos to the site agree they are the owners of the photos or have permission to post them. The terms (in all caps) read: “You acknowledge and agree that to the maximum extent permitted by law, the entire risk arising out of your access to and use of the site, application, services and site content remains with you.”

So now, maybe like you, I’m in a bit of a quandary. I know darn well I’ve posted photos on my boards without a photo credit. Do I remove the ones that aren’t expressly mine, or hold my breath like hundreds of thousands of other Pinterest users, in the belief that everything will be all right?

My Internet pal Joan Stewart says she thinks that eventually, somebody will file a suit against Pinterest, and the case will end up in the courts. Her coach in the Mastermind group she’s in has recommended that people use Pinterest correctly.

Assuming you’re on Pinterest, what’s your take on the legal issue? Are you going to stay and pray, or jump ship?


About Chris Ruys

Chris Ruys is founder and president of Chris Ruys Communications, Inc., a marketing/public relations firm that specializes in high visibility campaigns using both traditional and social media strategies. Her blog, originally called "Getting Social," was launched in October 2010 as a way to share her progress as a "student" of social media. While she's still learning, Ms. Ruys has broadened the scope to include other aspects of marketing communications and PR, including blogging, email, traditional media and advertising in the blog she now calls "Proactive PR."