Photographers can easily monitor which of their images have been shared on Pinterest. Here is a screenshot of images published by BJP and shared by users on the social website.
Founded in March 2010, Pinterest has gained popularity in recent months by allowing users to "pin" to virtual boards or collections any images they find online. Using a bookmartlet, the website says it can help "you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes." It adds: "Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."
As of February, Pinterest already had 17 million monthly active users.
However, the site has been accused of encouraging copyright infringement by making it easy for people to build up image collections that can be republished and shared without the consent of their copyright owners.
Pinterest believes that it is protected from litigation by the US's Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which "provides safe harbors for exactly this type of platform," says a statement. "We are committed to efficiently responding to alleged copyright infringements. We are regularly improving our process internally with the help of lawyers who are experts in the field of copyright."
Pinterest adds: "As a company, we care deeply about creating value for content creators. We're spending a great deal of time reaching out to content creators to understand their needs and concerns. So far, we've received overwhelmingly positive feedback and have created both tools for publishers who want to make it easier to pin their content (the "Pin It" button for publisher sites) as well as tools for those who would prefer that their material isn't pinned (an opt-out code that content owners add to their site that prevents content from being shared on Pinterest). Our goal at Pinterest is to help people discover the things they love. Driving traffic to original content sources is fundamental to that goal."
Photographers can monitor whether their images have been "pinned" by adding their domain name to the following address: http://pinterest.com/source/YOUR_DOMAIN_NAME.COM/. They can also add the following line of code to their site to prevent people from repinning their images: < meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" />.
Speaking to BJP, media law expert Rupert Grey of Swan Turton, says that while Pinterest can be commended for making these monitoring toold available, it "has a clear duty to inform the photographic sector about the potential [Pinterest] can have in terms of mass copyright infringement."
"They should be contacting the Association of Photographers, the British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, and all corresponding photographic agencies to inform them on how photographers can protect their images," says Grey.
BJP has also found that Pinterest often removes an image's metadata when it republishes it on its servers, which could lead to the mass production of orphan works.
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