Every winter I hibernate. Admittedly not in the fashion of some mammals – as I am sure that at least my employer, partner and son would complain if I was to gorge myself until I had the fat reserves to keep me going for many months and then secrete myself incommunicado in a makeshift den for the season. No, I still have to fulfill my responsibilities and anyway, most unfortunately the human body doesn’t work like that.
I use the term ‘hibernate’ to refer to mild social withdrawal; to indulgence, cosy home comforts and the general avoidance of winter extremities. I use it to convey the concept of moving less and eating more, whilst enjoying solitude and solo activities – which for me usually means reading, writing, online shopping, cooking and, this winter, I found Pinterest.
If you haven’t heard, Pinterest is a photo-sharing website in the style of a themed pin board or scrapbook where you can neatly ‘bookmark’ and organise images you want to save. You can make virtually any visual list you wish, creating the digital equivalent of a recipe binder, a fashion ’look book’, a collection of inspirational quotations or a catalogue of magazine cut-outs of products you covet – without scissors, Pritt Stick and copious unmethodical notebooks.
Women – and I say women because it is unsurprisingly largely, but not exclusively, middle-class women that join and actively utilize the website – use it for inspiration and the planning of everything from tomorrow’s outfit to next year’s holiday and their wedding day.
Pinterest’s self-purported aim is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” – and the simple site has become increasingly popular with list-makers, event planners, bloggers, designers, photographers, procrastinators and social media fans who’d heard it was the new Facebook. Statistics from comScore revealed that by January this year and in the US alone, Pinterest had achieved 11.7 million unique monthly users – faster than any ‘standalone‘ company ever before. But what about the C-word?
While I have spent the past few months rampantly pinning and re-pinning pictures other people own, at the back of my mind a small voice murmured, “but what about Copyright?” until I finally did some research.
Though some websites are negotiating with Pinterest (or Cold Brew Labs as they are corporately known) over the use of their content, they have so far protected themselves from lawsuits with a notification system where copyright holders can request their material is removed.
They have also cunningly relieved themselves of liability in their terms and conditions of usage, asking you to contractually agree that you are the “sole and exclusive owner” of any images you ‘pin’ and that you “have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary.”
Furthermore, you agree that they are entitled to a “worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license with the right to sub-license, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services”.
I’m not legally trained but this paragraph suggests users also agree to pay Cold Brew Labs’ fees, should an image you pin be involved in legal wrangling:
“You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, losses, damages, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access or use of the Site, Applications, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member content or (iii) your violation of these terms.”
While the Terms and Conditions leave me with several uneasy questions, I realise Pinterest is still an infant company ironing out its policies and this kind of legal agreement is a sage precautionary measure for a business to take in the litigious ground of the internet. Perhaps I naively believe that common sense would prevail in a court of law, or that it will never happen to me anyway. Or perhaps I’m just a little bit addicted to pinning…