Pinterest’s Copyright Problem and How it May Hurt Brands
Pinterest, the hot social network of the moment, and you’ve just given them your copyright. Is this a problem for brands and if so, how different is it from what you give up when you give Facebook a photo? What about photos on Google+?
First, let’s look at PinterestAccording to Pinterest’s own terms of service (emphasis added):
By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, 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. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.
Facebook’s Terms Around Your PhotosFacebook handles photo rights differently in important ways that are much better (in my non-legally trained view) than what Pinterest says. According to Facebook’s Terms of Service (emphasis added):
For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.As this very good article on the subject points out, Facebook needs this license to show your pictures to others. But it makes no claim to be able to sell or adapt your content, as Pinterest does and the license expressly ends when the content is deleted, unless others have shared it and have not deleted it.
How Google+ Handles Your PhotosGoogle has been hammered in recent months for seeming to break their “Don’t Be Evil” motto over and over again. Perhaps that’s why the way they handle photos on Google+ is changing March 1 with their new privacy policies. To my untrained eye, however, Google has done a pretty good job of writing terms that they need (to allow them to show your pictures to others) without going overboard. Here’s what their new terms say (emphasis added):
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.It seems like the ability to get your IP back that you have (in a limited way at least) from Facebook doesn’t exist in Google, although they hint that it might be allowed for some of their services. But they make it clear that their rights are limited to making Google products work.