Whistleblower Spurs Big Changes to Pinterest

A blog post written by an Alpharetta, Georgia woman is causing majors changes at Pinterest, according to TechCrunch. Kirsten Kowalski published a blog post last month revealing that she felt that the rules of Pinterest make it virtually impossible for one to not commit copyright violations. And if anyone would know, it would be Kowalski, who is a professional photographer, a corporate lawyer, and an avid pinner.

Kowalski voiced her concern that Pinterest’s “Pin Etiquette” policy discourages users from self-promotion by pinning their own original images, but also states that users are solely responsible for any copyright consequences resulting from their pinning images for which they do not own the rights. So what exactly can you pin on Pinterest? Kowalski felt that the answer was basically nothing. The corporate lawyer deleted all of the pin boards she had previously created due to the possible legal ramifications. “A site can’t put out something like that and say, ‘If you use it like we intend you to use it, you’re liable, not us,'” said Kowalski.

But Kowalski’s blog entry certainly got the attention of executives at Pinterest. Shortly after her blog post went viral and began to attract media attention, the blogger received a phone call from Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest. According to Kowalski, Silbermann admitted that Pinterest was “having some growing pains,” but the company was working to modify the Terms of Use to make Pinterest more user-friendly for photographers and users in general. Over the past few weeks, Kowalski has been in further contact with Pinterest executives as they discuss the upcoming changes for the site.

Though just about anyone can say that they saw these copyright issues coming, many acknowledge that these are simply the types of issues that emerge as a new business grows and flourishes. TechCrunch‘s Colleen Taylor reiterates that “copyright issues, spam problems, patent wars, and the like” come with growth, “but as Pinterest moves into its inevitable revenue generation strategy, it will be important to have these things somewhat more buttoned-up.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ashley Cloninger at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com