Pinterest has been notoriously slow to address copyright issues. Because the “Pin It” button works on any website that has not opted out of Pinterest, users can grab images from almost anywhere on the internet, regardless of copyright issues. This affects artists the most because the photos are not always credited properly by the original user who pinned it. In addition, there is no way to track the source of the original pin after multiple repins, unlike Tumblr and its reblogs.
Printerest, a new website that allows you to print Pinterest photos into posters and books, complicates things further because it makes it possible to make money off of someone else’s work. Additionally, Ecoconsultancy estimates that round 90% of brand URLs on Pinterest are being squatted on by individuals not affiliated with the brand (check out http://pinterest.com/fedex/ for an example).
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Some might argue that users pinning copyrighted content is beneficial to brands since someone else is spreading your message on social media for free. However, the more worrying issue is for individual content creators. Imagine an artist who uploads artwork to his or her blog – a Pinterest user could potentially save that image on his or her computer, upload it onto Pinterest as his or her own, and use Printerest to make money off of the work.
YouTube went through a similar phase as it grew; as complaints and legal pressure from brands increased, they started developing technology to respond to complaints and weed out copyrighted material. I expect the same process to happen at Pinterest as they receive more negative attention on the subject.