Avoid Pinning Your Name to a Copyright or Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

Pinterest has quickly developed as the latest innovation in the social media evolution.  Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that allows a user to organize and share images with other Pinterest users.  A user “pins” an image to his or her pinboard by either uploading an image from his or her computer or using the “Pin It” button integrated into his or her web browser after downloading the Pinterest program.  Each pin added using the Pin It button links back to the website where the image was pinned from.  Images that have been pinned to a pinboard can be re-pinned by other users that desire to add the image to their own pinboard.

Although Pinterest may be the latest tool for social media marketers to engage with their company’s customers and consumers, pinning and re-pinning images may have serious legal consequences.  If a company only pins images that it has created or purchased, it will likely avoid legal difficulties.  Because the company owns the image, it can publish and distribute the image as it sees fit.  However, if a company pins images found on other pinboards or other websites, it runs the risk of violating the copyright protection afforded to the owner of the image.  Similarly, if a company pins images that encapsulate the trademarks of other companies or the depictions of celebrities, it may also be exposed to potential trademark infringement lawsuits. How can marketing professionals realize the benefits of Pinterest while avoiding its pitfalls?

The only way to ensure that you do not pin your company’s name to a copyright or trademark infringement lawsuit is to only utilize images that are in your company’s image portfolio.  Here too though, one must be careful.  Often times, a company licenses images from an external source to use in its marketing efforts.  Before you pin an image that your company has licensed, it is important to make sure that the applicable licensing agreement allows for this type of use.  As for the rest of the images that you find on the web, most will require the author’s permission before you use them in your latest social media marketing campaign.

To find out more about the legal implications of your company’s social media marketing activities, visit www.fraserlawfirm.com or contact attorney Daniel Cherrin at 313.965.9039 or attorney Michael James at 517.377.0823.  We look forward to assisting you with your social media business needs.

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