The Pinterest Grenade

I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter about Pinterest from my online friends as of late. I had held off looking at the website until recently. Given all of my writing about terms of service and other agreements, I thought it was fitting to start my examination by taking a gander at their policies. In reading over their terms of use, I thought it was a bit sketchy in its details and assignments.

It turns out I’m not the only one. This piece in The Atlantic Wire notes that the copyright agreement on the website puts the burden (and the monetary expenses) on the end user for any legal actions. Furthermore, the end user is responsible for any legal fees that Cold Brew (the company that owns Pinterest) generates defending itself from the action taken against you. A double financial whammy. This blog post outlines all of the potential copyright pitfalls and their consequences that could be generated from pinning images on the service.

Beyond copyright, there was one line that raised an eyebrow for me when I read. It’s the highlighted portion from the screenshot below.


All I could think of is “By whose standards?” I’ll concede on the defamatory term and throw in the pornographic term as well for good measure. But obscene, vulgar, and offensive? We can dance around the first two as to what they mean, but it’s the last one that really takes the cake for me. Offensive is such a vague word and used in a remarkable cover-our-asses sort of way. Given the nature of our society to remove rather than ignore offensive content, it seems like a magical trump card that could be wielded against anyone at anytime under the guise that they are offended by it.

Given that you could be sued if you stray from your own work or have it taken down on subjective whim, that doesn’t sounds like a fun community to me. Although, given that it is a fast growing community, perhaps it is more of a lesson as to how people feel about copyright in the digital age.

Edit: I just re-read the second term in the screenshotted paragraph. It makes me wonder whose laws are being applied since there are limits on expression in other countries. That sounds like a legal minefield to me.