Pinterest Sued for Promoting Copyright Infringement

Takeaway: Pinterest is facing claims of copyright and contributory infringement by photographer who claims Pinterest fosters infringement. Be careful not to use photographs or artwork without its creator’s permission.

Professional photographer, Harold Davis, sued the app developers for Pinterest in federal court, accusing the online platform of copyright infringement and contributory infringement. The complaint alleged that Pinterest encourages users to share images that have copyright protection without first obtaining permission from the copyright owners. The photographer claims that ten of his photographs are on Pinterest’s site without his permission. He additionally claims the social media platform sent emails to Pinterest users sharing his images encouraging them to save to their boards or share the photos with other users without authorization.

Davis believes that “Pinterest provides a mechanism for people to violate the copyright rights of others” and “. . . encourages the wholesale, unauthorized copying of photographs.” Davis is asking for statutory damages for willful infringement. However, Pinterest, a platform protected under the DMCA’s Safe Harbor and Fair Use Doctrine, may have a viable defense.