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Pinterest, Copyright and the Library

Pinterest is a hot new social networking site, but you need to use it carefully.

Have you caught the Pinterest wave yet?

In case you don't know what Pinterest is, it's a social network where you can create and share virtual pinboards of online images. According to the New York Times, it now holds the record for "being the fastest Web site in history to break the 10-million-visitors-a-month threshold."

Pinterest has caught the attention of libraries around the country, and they are thinking about how to use the social network as a way to interact with the communities they serve and to highlight their collections.

Some observers, however, have pointed out possible pitfalls Pinterest users face. In particular, some have raised concerns about the potential that users who post images to which they do not own the copyright may be exposing themselves to lawsuits by copyright owners.

Trying to read the Pinterest Terms of Service is bound to give you a headache, but the basic gist is that you must own whatever images you add to the site:

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.

The library's approach to Pinterest, which you can view here, has been to create curated pinboards of book covers on a variety of topics. In an attempt to honor the rights of the copyright-holder, we strive to find cover images that originate at the author's or publisher's website.

Some may still interpret this appropriation of the images as a violation of the Terms of Service, but the techdirt blog points out that, done correctly, pinned Pinterest images can drive traffic back to the original websites that own the images.

We are swimming in rather murky waters with this new tool, so as you explore Pinterest and add content to your pinboards, be aware of the issues at play, and remember to use good pinning etiquette!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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