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Friday, March 16, 2012

Pinterest Primer

If you think people spend too much time on Facebook, then watch out for Pinterest. The “new kid” on the social networking block has women glued to their computers and companies scrambling to figure out how they can use Pinterest to push their products.

Pinterest 101
Pinterest is simply an online virtual bulletin board where users can “pin” images they find while surfing the Internet to themed “pinboards.” Members can also see what other users pin and “repin” to their own boards. Instead of bookmarking a ton of individual Web pages, users can now collect items that interest them into one central location. 

Arts and crafts, home d├ęcor, fashion and food are the most popular items to pin. More than 60 percent of pinboards deal with those four topics, according to a study released this week by RJ Metrics. As you may have deduced from the pinning trends, Pinterest is extremely popular among women, and the site is growing by leaps and bounds. In September 2011, there were 2 million Pinterest users, and that numbers has grown to close to 20 million users today.  

How are Companies Using Pinterest?
Consumer brands with products that can be represented visually have the best opportunities on Pinterest. Companies can create accounts and pin their products in hopes that other users will repin the items. Chobani promotes its yogurt by pinning recipes using its product, Real Simple magazine pins links to its various articles and OPI pins pictures of its latest nail polish shades. Companies that don’t have visual products, or products that don’t appeal to the predominantly female audience, shouldn’t invest time and energy in Pinterest right now. The popular topics may change when the site expands beyond an invite-only membership.

Is Pinning Breaking the Law?
The only problem with “pinning” is that many of the images users upload are copyrighted, and pinning them could be considered copyright infringement. The Digital Millenium Copyright Act shields the company from copyright infringement on photos posted by its users, but protection doesn’t extend to its members. Pinterest’s terms of service indicate that users are responsible for any copyright claims arising from images that they upload. The fair use defense is the most likely recourse for any users facing claims of copyright infringement. The best thing for users to do is take the time to comment on each image they pin, since the fair use doctrine protects people who express views on an original work. It’ll be interesting to see how these legal issues all play out.

~ Nicole