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Is Pinterest Infringing Copyright?

A new social media site called Pinterest has become the flavour of the month. It is claimed to be the "fastest growing site on the internet", and has now got over 10 million unique users. It is basically a new take on the old family "scrapbook" - users create boards according to their style, preferences, hobbies etc. and then place image “pins” on their appropriate “pin boards.” The boards cover often homely themes like “Chocolate Cake Recipes,” “Christmas Ideas,” or Wedding Planning” and users can follow particular "pinners" as they do on Facebook and Twitter.

The difficulty for photography suppliers - photolibraries, photographers (not to mention artists and illustrators) is that Pinterest captures the images and puts them on its servers as part of the process. Although in its Terms and Conditions Pinterest expects users to own or have cleared copyright, this is clearly just a ploy to keep Pinterest out of legal proceedings and transfer the blame to the users. As readers of this site will know, taking peoples' images without clearing copyright is infringement; it was ruled that using "thumbnails" as Google does in its searches, was "fair dealing" but taking the main image was not.
There has been considerable discussion on internet forums and mailing lists about whether this was copyright infringement. It seems again that photographers are getting the short end of the stick, in that their work is used for financial gain for others, that is Pinterest in this case: it doesn't seem to use adverts but does gain income from modifying "affiliate links" to products so it gets a share of the revenue.

Below is a link to a couple of good articles about the issue from photographer Sean Locke.

Website: Sean Locke Photography

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The Bechers – Documenting Industrial Decline
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Advances in 3D Imaging – Sphericam 2 Project
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Victorian Photographic Archives on Show
Exhibition of rapidly-changing London from 1839-1901

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