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Pin one up for copyright protection

The up-and-coming social networking site Pinterest has announced a new initiative to protect intellectual property from copyright infringement. The service, which is essentially a virtual bulletin board, allows members to post links, pictures and other information on a personalized page. This format has raised concerns about copyright protection because the site may encourage unauthorized sharing.

The co-founder of the site said this week that Pinterest respects the rights of intellectual property holders, and as a result has provided a new method for protecting information from being posted on the site. A short line of code, provided by Pinterest, will prevent information on any website from being posted to an online profile. Instead, the user will see a message indicating that the site’s owners have chosen to be excluded. In addition, Pinterest administrators have developed an online form that can be used to request information removal.

Pinterest is a rapidly growing phenomenon, featuring more than 11.7 million users as of the last count in January. That’s about 4 million more than the 7.5 million users in December, according to estimates.

Legal analysts say that the site treads a fine line between copyright protection and free speech. Courts are unlikely to prohibit the expression of free speech, say some attorneys, although the issue becomes convoluted when the law is also expected to protect business entities. Pinterest would be wise to demonstrate allegiance with copyright holders to prevent devastating legal action against the site, say media law experts. Outside experts argue that Pinterest can probably protect itself from copyright cases by demonstrating that the distribution of copyrighted material was not the site’s primary function, unlike the processes that brought about the demise of such sites as Napster.

Source: BBC News, “Pinterest moves to address copyright fears with opt-out,” Feb. 21, 2012

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