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Photographers Drag Amazon Into Pinterest Copyfight

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) will accept responsibility for copyright complaints related to popular image-sharing site Pinterest, a photographers’ lobby boasted this weekend.

“Amazon has now accepted that they will process DMCA notices concerning infringements by Pinterest members,” said a site called Artists’ Bill of Rights, citing a recent email exchange with Amazon.

Amazon is involved because Pinterest, which lets users make pretty collages from photos they find on the internet, uses Amazon’s popular 3S cloud servers to host the Pinterest website:

Amazon has no role in shaping copyright policy at Pinterest but the photographers’ lobby group believes it should nonetheless be responsible because it rents the space that Pinterest is using. According to the site,

Amazon expressed a preference that DMCA notices be submitted to Pinterest on the grounds that it would be more efficient. We are of the view that as the infringing material is actually hosted by Amazon that it is Amazon that should be responsible for dealing with it.

The lobby group may be publicizing Amazon’s role so as to draw media attention to the copyright issue and as an attempt to force the web giant to pressure Pinterest.

Pinterest is still a tiny company but its meteoric growth is forcing it to confront a legal challenge that may be beyond its capacity (Twitter reportedly faced a similar copyright headache when the micro-blog took off in 2009).

Amazon could respond to the copyright controversy by kicking Pinterest off its servers but that seems unlikely given the site’s popularity. Pinterest itself is in a legal grey area reminiscent of that faced by previous pioneers like Grokster and YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG) that helped to create new forms of internet culture.

The hype has led some lawyers to put out alarmist blog posts warning that not just Pinterest but its customers could be liable for copyright infringement.

The Artists’ Bill of Rights claims can be taken with a grain of salt as the site itself appears to be a front for rights ownesr gunning for Pinterest. One of its inaugural posts suggests users approach the site with a caution befitting hard drugs:

22 Responses to “Photographers Drag Amazon Into Pinterest Copyfight”

  1. The funniest thing about this article is that it is posted to a site called “PaidContent” :-)

    Pinterest is all about UnPaidContent.

    This article should focus on the *real* new digital economy where images are worth nothing and image makers can no longer afford to make a living while they watch ParaSites like Pinterest fill their boots.

  2. kjohnston

    Pinterest should not claim the right to sell copyrighted work that has been pinned to it’s site. It needs to find another way to monetize. Creatives need to see the positive side. Like Margie said – pins lead back to the original post. They open users up to a wide variety of websites that the user might not have seen without Pinterest.

    On another note, I write contracts all the time at work. I could technically write whatever I want into a contract – that doesn’t mean it would hold up in court. Just because Pinterest has put all the responsibility on the user doesn’t mean a judge would see it that way. Hopefully it doesn’t have to get to that point.

  3. joshua_mox

    you can keep images from being pinned by adding the nopin snippet to the head of your webpage 

    see pinterest’s help documentation for the low down

  4. Solution:  You don’t want your images Pinned to Pinterest – have them as Flash on your website.  Pinterest’s “Pin It” app cannot read Flash and therefore cannot pin it.

    I honestly don’t feel Pinterest should have any right to sell anything pinned to their site.  I use Pinterest almost daily and I have “discovered” content there that I otherwise would never have discovered.  I follow the links directly back to the site where the content originated and have further explored that site. I have even purchased items from those sites that I likely would never have known about otherwise.

  5. Kind of curious why there is no reaction from Amazon. Did PaidContent attempt to contact them?

    Also, are the alleged infringing photographs posted by Amazon without permission, or hosted by Amazon (using cloud storage or other services), and someone else is responsible for putting them there?

  6. Jeff, Pinterest isn’t “in a legal grey area”. It’s infringing copyright on a massive scale, as are Amazon too, because they are knowingly storing and publishing a huge number of images without the copyright holder’s permission.

    Just like Kim Dotcom, they are claiming that DMCA protects them. But this isn’t sustainable as DMCA was designed to protect ISPs and publishers from a small minority of their users who may occasionally infringe — not enable them to sustain a large number of users repeatedly infringing!

    YouTube have been compelled to pay rights holders because their users were infringing against large and rich organisations. Individual photographers are an easy target for web parasites like Pinterest who use their images freely, like chum, to attract customers and mine data.

  7. Contrary to current Law in the UK, the Design, Copyright & Patents Act, the European Human Rights Act & the United Nations Human RIghts Act, Intellectual Copyright belongs to the creator, end of subject.  Now, Pinterest is a U.S. Company, therefore it is required to comply with the UN Act and as a fully signed up Member of the Berne Convention, can also face prosecution under the UK Design, Copyright and Patents Act – Maybe would should seek an extradition order for the owners of Pinterest for be put on trial in the UK?The unauthorised copying of ANY CONTENT is illegal, it is a CRIME, if you don’t believe, why would anyone, including THIS WEBSITE ( ‘Copyright ContentNext Media Inc 2002-2012) put such a statement on their websites…TO STOP PEOPLE STEALING CONTENT.
    If you don’t want people stealing your content, then bloody well don’t support others attempting to steal it of another…. hypocrites.

  8. Jeff Roberts wrote:-
    “Pinterest-type sites are not going away so I think the best outcome is for the site and image owners to discover a business solution as soon as possible.”

    You mean like the copyright holder’s permission to publish followed by an agreed payment?

    • Jeff Roberts

      I think a large scale “opt-in” model, while ideal, is not viable given the way people are used to interacting with the Internet. While rights owners may think suing is the way to stop this, past experience in other media show that lawsuits aren’t very effective and just result in embittered consumers.

      The ideal outcome, I think, is a You-Tube style finger-printing system in which content owners have the option to either order their work be taken down or instead monetize it through some form of advertising.

  9. Brenda Marks

    As a ‘Rights Owner’ – in other words a commercial photographer – I object strongly to your patronising statement that our claims and warnings can be taken with a pinch of salt. My colleagues and I are trying to stop the exploitation of our artistic works by people who have never asked to use and redistribute our photos, nor asked to upload or pin them to other web sites such as Pinterest who will then claim marketing rights over them – all without our knowledge or agreement. How is that fair? How does that help me to protect the creative and considerable financial investment we have made in our photos? Or protect the licenses we have sold to legitimate clients which can be undermined by these illegal re-uses rendering us vulnerable to lawsuits by those clients?
    “Gunning for Pinterest?” You bet I am, and anyone else who threatens our livelihood by unauthorised use of our photos and I will not be asking for payment of our damages in salt … but in hard cash.

    • nthisrain

      Too bad DMCAs didn’t apply to take others’ styles and reinventing it into you’re own work, in a bland way, that insults the original. I’ve seen your photography.

    • Jeff Roberts

      Brenda Marks, I had no intention to patronize photographers who have a legitimate right to license their work. I don’t like it when people replicate my articles without attribution and can understand how you feel.

      My grain of salt comment was simply in response to the rather one-sided perspective of the site. Sites like Pinterest (like YouTube and Facebook before it) have the potential to offer new opportunities for creative people of all sorts to share and promote their work.

      Pinterest-type sites are not going away so I think the best outcome is for the site and image owners to discover a business solution as soon as possible. 

      • Jeff, the solution for Pinterest is obvious. Instead of releasing a blocking code for website owners to use to stop Pinterest members infringing their content they could replace that with a permission code.

        Those who wish to have their work copied to Pinterest and benefit from the so called ‘potential opportunities’ can place the permission code on their website. Result, only those websites giving permission will get content copied to Pinterest and everyone is much happier. Copyright law is very simple at it’s heart, get permission before use.

        That should be the solution for any other Pinterest type websites – just get permission. It’s only a matter of respecting the authors wishes, and it’s really not difficult to do. If you think seeking permission is one-sided I cannot understand your point of view.

      • Brenda Marks

        Jeff Roberts wrote … “My grain of salt comment was simply in response to the rather one-sided perspective of the site.”
        Of course it’s one-sided! How else do we get across the point of view of countless individual creators too small to take on international big businesses? We are fighting not only for our own livelihoods but also for that of young aspiring photographers of the future against Pinterest and all the other web sites which seek to steal our creative work and reuse it without permission or any recompense to the originators.

    • Brenda, you are over-reacting. If you read the article you will get the intent of the phrase “grain of salt”. What the article is saying is that instead of a “Bill of Rights” that is about protection of rights, the Artists’ Bill of Rights page is more about “gunning for pinterest” and so should be viewed as as such. If the Artists’ bill of rights would be about warnings and not about “anti-pinterest” then it could have been the same language minus “Pinterest is not safe..etc”. Copyright in my view is around any copyright infringment and pinterest is not the only one which is right now providing an avenue for infringment of copyright. In your response you rightly say “You bet I am, and anyone else who threatens our livelihood by unauthorised use of our photos and I will not be asking for payment of our damages in salt … but in hard cash” but it seems the Bill of Rights is all about “Gunning for Pinterest?” your comment I would take is very seriously and respect it but not the Bill of Rights which is appropriately taken with a grain of salt :)

      • Jonathan Brown

        Sachin, with respect, if you took some time to look around the ABoR site, you would see it has a long history of warning content creators about sites/comptetitions where, upon entering/uploading their content, their work would be ripped off and they would be signing away all rights to their work.  ABoR is not just about “gunning for Pinterest”, it is a campaign fighting for the rights of all content creators to retain control over their work throughout the WWW.  As such, I would have thought it should be taken with a large mine full of salt, assuming you approve of artists and creators maintaining control over their work?