Getting Pintellectual: What’s New in Pinterest’s New Terms and Conditions

Pinterest and Copyright get together

"Come here you sexy body of intellectual property law! Let's get together in a meaningful and protected way."

The new Pinterest terms and conditions were rolled out last night with an email that needed proof reading.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and just chalk it up to excitement–this was probably a long and difficult process and they were eager to share the results.  I won’t go down the path of talking about how when you want to bury a story you release it on a Friday.  We can be pessimists later.

These are significant changes so it isn’t worthwhile to go over every change in the documents.  But here are some of the highlights that I can see right now (hey, it’s Saturday for me too).

They can’t sell your pins.  This is the most public facing change called out in their email.  It’s the one that had most blog posts up in arms, even though if you read the entire terms you would discover the ability to sell was meaningless because it was limited to the site itself (as I tried to explain in Pinterest Wants to Sell Your Soul (If You Aren’t a Lawyer and Have One) ).  So that meaningless right has been eliminated and Pinterest gets to score some goodwill points by clarifying the inadvertent inclusion.

Pinterest will delete your pins when you delete your account.  The earlier version of the terms gave Pinterest an irrevocable and perpetual license to your pins.  Meaning once you posted it you couldn’t take it down (you could delete the pin but in theory Pinterest could keep it and use it on the site).  The new terms have eliminated these provisions so you can now revoke the license to your pin (except to the extent others have repinned it or you pinned it to a board you don’t control).  And they even say they will delete your pins in a reasonable fashion (some time and necessity limitations).

Pinterest got serious about Intellectual Property laws.  In the previous version of the terms you were required to have all the rights necessary to post the content.  Either the pin was yours or you had licensed it–outside those two scenarios you were violating the Pinterest terms.  That’s not a good position for a platform provider since it’s imposing restrictions above and beyond what is required (all the defenses for posting things that don’t belong to you but you don’t have a license to).  With this new version, Pinterest has a separate section about third party IP and now says that you should only post things that don’t violate other party’s intellectual property rights or violates a law.  It may seem like a change in semantics but it’s actually a critical change–Pinterest has now absorbed all the IP defenses a user might assert into their own platform by switching the analysis from whether the pinner has a right/license to whether the pinner has a defense.  That shows maturity and a longer vision.

Referral scheme now violate Pinterest’s terms.  In my earlier post There’s a Fine Pin Between Brilliant and Creepy I discussed how the Pinterest scheme to modify commercial links so that it includes a Pinterest affiliate code may violate their terms (specifically in the Privacy section).  Now it almost certainly does.  In the old terms Pinterest had the right to modify your pins, which would arguably include the ability to change the link to include an otherwise invisible affiliate code.  In the new terms you are giving Pinterest the right to “modify (e.g., reformat)” your pins.  Modify is still there, but Pinterest has given the example of what modification it means–in this case just changing the look rather than the purpose.  This makes the practice even harder to justify under the current terms and may signal the end of it.  A good thing on the whole as I think the referral scheme is a practice better suited to smaller sites–Pinterest is almost certainly able to negotiate directly with Amazon and other sites for better terms now that all the data shows them to be an excellent referrer.

Guys now use Pinterest!  The privacy policy has many changes as well but the one I found the most interesting (maybe because it’s the weekend and I’m a guy) is that Pinterest broadened what Personal Information they may colllect.  The old privacy policy identified name, biography, website, and email address as personal information they may collect.  They did say it wasn’t limited to this, but that’s what was called out.  The new privacy policy includes those four pieces of data but also explicitly includes your gender, hometown/location, and profile photo.  To be fair, the original terms said it wasn’t exclusive.  But I always find it interesting when lists include additional explicit items–terms like “not limited to” or “including others similarly related” or some such are Legalese for “we get it all but we just can’t think of it right now.”  So for Pinterest to include these extra items means they’re very interested in them; there won’t be any quibbling about whether it was included in the catch-all bucket because they explicitly listed them.  Gender strikes me as the most interesting–maybe they realize they’re a site for men now too (and I can get my man card back for being on Pinterest–what do you think @RichardatDell?).

I’m sure there are more changes that we’ll discuss over the next few weeks, but overall I find the changes to be a good one.  Kudos to Pinterest for identifying the easy victory in getting rid of the meaningless pin sale and taking a more mature intellectual property stance.



Filed under Copyright, Pinterest, Privacy, Social Marketing, Social Tracking, Terms and Conditions

5 responses to “Getting Pintellectual: What’s New in Pinterest’s New Terms and Conditions

  1. Michelle

    As always…you help make is simple!

  2. Meenu Midha

    This explains a lot – thanks!! Are we still liable for posting content which we don’t own but like (e.g. from the pinners we follow)?
    On the business side, aside from the fact that the business should have the copyright for the images to be pinned on social media, is there anything else we should watch for?

  3. Meenu, Obviously I’m not going to give specific legal advice over a blog comment response and I would encourage anyone reading this to have a conversation with their own attorney for more specific guidance. But I don’t see anything in the new terms that change the risk of re-pinning someone else’s content. Just like in the old terms, by pinning content you say you have the rights (or, under new terms, you don’t violate the law) and that others can re-pin your content. That’s not to say re-pinning is without risk, but the risk does not appear to have changed for the re-pinner.

    As for business risk, that’s something you should discuss with your business and legal team. The new terms, at least, do appear to be more business-friendly. While the old terms suggested that corporate accounts were not allowed (not explicitly but did say that pins could not have a commercial purpose) the new terms specifically mention corporate Pinterest accounts.

  4. Pingback: Quick Updates: Tweet Yourself Out of High School, Congressman Thinks Twitter is Private, and Pinterest Founder Deletes His Board | SoMeLaw Thoughts

  5. Pingback: What’s Really Behind The New Pinterest Attributions | SoMeLaw Thoughts

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