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IP/Internet Lawyer Opinion About Pinterest Policy

One of the concerns of Pinterest users (beyond a host of other issues like image attribution, and links to original sources) is the fine print under Terms of Use on the Pinterest site.

Riley Noehren, an IP/Internet lawyer and maker, has allowed me to repeat his insight into the fine print of Pinterest, the baffling mumbo jumbo that is hard to decipher or understand.

Below is the opinion of Rily Noehren:
"I'm an Etsy member and an IP/Internet lawyer.  Part of my job is to draft website terms for my clients, and this is a pretty standard provision.  It is necessary for Pinterest to have this license in order to be able to run its website.  You will find similar provisions in the terms
of any website where the user can upload content.  For example, Facebook's terms include the following:

"For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."

"There are a few key limitations to what Pinterest is doing:
1. It is just a license, not an assignment of rights.  You keep the rights to your photos, etc.  Pinterest just has a right to use them in a limited context.
2. The license only extends to things related to the website.
3. The license only covers the content you upload, such as your photos, not the crafts themselves.
4. The license only extends to Pinterest, not other Pinterest users for use off of the website.

If you noticed that Facebook's license ends when you delete your account, but Pinterest's is irrevocable, that is because the whole idea of Pinterest is for others to repost your photos.  Again, this is really necessary in order to make Pinterest work.  However, it doesn't hurt to remember before you upload anything that it will be there forever."

"It is important to remember that even if a website is "free," there is still a cost for using it--namely, your agreement to be bound by the terms and privacy policy.  I think if most Etsians were to weigh the costs and risks associated with Pinterest, the balance would still favor using Pinterest because it is an excellent, low, or no-cost marketing tool. However, each person needs to make that decision for themselves based on the type of work they do."

Riley Noehren
IP/Internet lawyer

Harriete says:
I agree that it is very difficult to understand the fine print Terms of Use. On every site, the terms are written by lawyers paid by the internet site provider to protect the site, not the artists using the site. Ultimately, each person has to decide what is the balance between risk and benefit.

This post was updated on March 11, 2022.