This is a guest post by Nicole Cheri Oden. Maybe you’ve had it happen to you. You’ve seen someone else using one of the Pins you created for your Pinterest account as theirs. Or you’ve clicked on a Pin and it took you to a landing page that was different than what the Pin advertised. Like any social media platform, not everyone follows the rules. But that can lead to your account being disabled or a copyright infringement claim being made against you. Which is why it’s so important to make sure that you are pinning legally.
Your Pinterest Marketing + The Law: What You Need To Know As A Business Owner
From intellectual property protections on Pinterest to running legit Pinterest ad campaigns, we’ll chat about what Pinning legally for your business means.
But before you read any further, know that everything I share is legal education and information, not legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. You should chat with an attorney in your local area to make sure you’re taking the right steps for you and your business.
If You Use Pinterest For Business, You Need To Create A Business Account
First things first, if you are using Pinterest for your business, Pinterest’s Terms of Service actually require you to create a business account and agree to their Business Terms of Service.
Terms of Service (also called Terms and Conditions) are the rules of the road for a website’s (or apps) visitors. They lay out what can and can’t be done on the website and with the website’s content, among other things. And they’re a binding contract.
So, while I know it doesn’t make for the most interesting reading material, I HIGHLY recommend you read the Terms of Service for any social media platform you use. This is the first step to ensure that you’re pinning legally. Because how can you abide by the rules if you don’t even know what they are?
Protecting Your Pins And Content | Pinning Legally
Case in point – people use Pinterest as a way to find photos to use on their own Pins, other social media platforms, or websites. That’s a big no-no that can land you in legal hot water. And it’s against Pinterest’s Terms of Service.
Pinterest’s Terms of Service require you to “. . . agree that any User Content that you post to Pinterest does not and will not violate any law or infringe the rights of any third party.” Meaning your Pins and content shouldn’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of others.
When you use someone else’s Pins or content without their permission (for a reason other than just re-Pinning on Pinterest), you could be infringing on their trademark and/or copyright rights. You want to make sure that you are following the rules when it comes to Pinning legally.
If you take nothing else away from this blog post, know that just because something is on the internet (or Pinterest) does not mean that it’s free to use. And if something doesn’t have a copyright or trademark symbol on it that does not mean it’s ok to use. You should always ask for permission before using anyone else’s content. Period.
There are additional steps you can take to protect your own content aside from registering your copyright and trademark rights.
Intellectual Property Protection Provision + Your Pinterest Marketing
To protect your Pins and the content they link back to on your website, it’s important that your website’s Terms and Conditions include an intellectual property protection provision.
An intellectual property protection provision provides notice to your website visitors about how they can use and share your content (photos, blog posts, logo, etc.). And it also allows you to let them know that you intend to prosecute any infringement of your intellectual property rights to the fullest extent of the law. While you may or may not intend to do so, having the provision in place is an extra layer of protection.
Copyright Notice in your Website’s Footer To Protect Your Content
You should also consider including a copyright notice in the footer of your website on all your web pages (i.e., “© year of creation, your registered business name”) to alert visitors that you are asserting your rights to the website’s content.
And yes, you can use the copyright symbol even if you don’t have a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Because the U.S. has an opt-out system – copyright rights attach when a physical expression of an original work occurs (for example, when you draft a blog post, design a Pinterest pin, etc.). You can read more about copyright considerations you should be aware of as a business owner here.
Filing a Complaint with Pinterest | What To Do
If you believe someone has infringed on your intellectual property rights, Pinterest provides online forms to make both copyright infringement and trademark infringement complaints. It’s a pretty straightforward process. After reviewing your submitted complaint, Pinterest may take steps to remove the infringing content from their platform.
As a note, these intellectual property considerations are also important to keep in mind if you plan on running Pinterest ads. Pinterest’s Terms of Service provide that: “Your ads can’t infringe upon or violate the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark or privacy rights.”
Legit Pinterest Ad Campaigns and Privacy Considerations
Pinterest ads are a great way to build your brand awareness and in turn know, like, trust factor which can lead to increased sales. They are easy to use and can be used to promote your evergreen content.
You can take your Pinterest ads a step further and track conversions (i.e., a specific action someone takes on your website such as a page visit, when someone adds an item to the shopping cart, or watches a video, etc.) by installing the Pinterest tag on your website. However, if you decide to do so you must abide by Pinterest’s Advertising Guidelines.
Pinterest requires that you as a business owner:
- “clearly and prominently disclose and get legally-required consent for the setting and reading of cookies and other User IDs . . . as and where required by law;
- give clear and prominent notice to your website and app visitors that their information will be shared with third parties for online behavioral advertising;
- tell your website or app visitors they can opt out of online behavioral advertising through their Pinterest personalization settings, the AdChoices website optout.aboutads.info (if you send us website activity via the Pinterest Tag), or their mobile ad identifier settings (if you share app activity data with us, eg via a mobile measurement partner or an app SDK).”
Pinterest draws a clear line in the sand about how the personal information you gather from Pinterest users by running ads may be used. Its Advertising Guidelines provide that “You can’t:
• Use data you receive from a Pinterest ads service for any purpose (including audience targeting or user profiling) other than to understand your Pinterest campaigns, and only on an anonymous basis
• Share data from a Pinterest ads service with a third party, including another advertising service
• Join data from a Pinterest ads service with personally identifiable information (like an email address) or information that identifies a user, browser, or device (like a cookie or mobile ad identifier).”
If you’re a business owner using Pinterest ads, you have to be aware of these issues and make sure you’re complying. And it’s always smart to speak with a small business attorney in your area to make sure. Because how you handle the personal information of a website visitor or customer is something that consumers are starting to pay attention to.
Data privacy is a hot issue in the online space with the enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the last few years. And Pinterest has likewise made it a priority.
At the end of the day, Pinterest is an amazing marketing tool to expand your online reach and get your products and services in front of an audience that’s searching for what you offer. But you have to make sure you’re Pinning legally.
About the Author: Nicole Cheri Oden is a licensed attorney in the State of California and she works with U.S.-based online business owners to make sure they are protecting their businesses while keeping their sanity. Her core business mission is to make legal protections affordable and accessible through free education and information, affordable templates, and flat fee legal services. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, a girl mom through and through, and a Disney lover. You can check out Nicole’s amazing online legal template shop here (this is an affiliate link!)
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