Legally Build Your Brand on Pinterest

What is Pinterest?

According to Techopedia.comPinterest is a social media website that allows users to organize and share images and videos from around the Web. Images uploaded by users are called Pins and may be organized into pinboards, which may be customized, themed and followed by other users. Users can also like or repin content shared by other pinners. Much like Twitter, any pinner can follow another.”

The Problem for Brands

Due to legalities, brands can’t use Pinterest in the same way that consumers do. Consumers using Pinterest generally post content they do not own or have rights to. The images or videos they are posting are not “public domain,” meaning the content is not available to the public and it is subject to copyright. Unfortunately, when your brand directly pins images to your brand page you do not have the same legal protections as consumers. For a business to utilize Pinterest for commercial purposes it must create a separate business account and agree to the Business Terms of Service. In this agreement it states that when using Pinterest “You are responsible for User Content and any third-party content posted on your boards and you represent and warrant that User Content and any third-party content posted on your boards comply with all applicable laws and regulations.” Therefore, you agree not to post user content to Pinterest that violates or infringes the rights of the original owner of the content. To address concerns of copyright infringement Pinterest recently added a “nopin” code allowing business owners to block users from pinning their images. However, this does not mean any image without a “nopin” code is available for use. Similarly, brands are also at risk when pinning images from websites using a “Pin It” button because there is no way to guarantee that the website has the right to grant you permission to pin the image or video.

How To Keep Your Brand Safe

So, how can your brand take advantage Pinterest without breaking the law? Follow these 8 simple steps:

  1. When “pinning” or “re-pinning” images on your pinboard ONLY use images your brand owns or has licensed.
  2. Remember that licensed content may have usage limitations. To avoid these limitations, consider listing “Pinterest usage” in the license for the images your brand owns.
  3. Get permission from brand partners to “pin” or “re-pin” images they own or have licensed.  This will expand your image library and help your partners by bringing traffic to its sites.
  4. Avoid pinning any images of third party trademarks or celebrities. To do so legally your brand must have permission to use the trademark and/or celebrity for commercial purposes.
  5. Don’t assume that any image without a “nopin” code is available for use. Similarly, don’t assume that an image with a “Pin It” button or a “nopin” code guarantees the website has the proper copyright permissions for you to pin the image. Some sites may give you the option but they may not have the rights to do so.
  6. When pinning images keep in mind that the pinned images can link users back to the original source of the image. Ask yourself if you want your brand to be associated with the content from that link.
  7. Remember that Pinterest boards are public and are viewable upon creation.
  8. Allow consumers to create themed pinboards for your brand by providing them with a library of images that you own or have licensed. Doing so will avoid the risk of users posting images to your brand page that they do not own.