Wednesday, May 23, 2012

PINTEREST...A Copyright Holder's Interest

Pinterest…A Copyright Holder’s Interest

            Gone are the days of little girls cutting pictures from magazine and pinning them to a bulletin board in their room.  Those little girls have grown up and have now made Pinterest the third most used social media site on the Internet.[1]  
            Pinterest permits a registered user to capture an image and place the image on the registered users “board” or page.  Registered users create bulletin boards based on a theme, topic or interest.  The categories are as broad as a color and as narrow as a specific feature of an item.  Registered users follow other registered users and/or bulletin boards and can re-pin images that other registered users found.  There is no limit to the amount of times an image can be re-pinned.
            While Pinterest can serve as a great marketing tool to get the word out about a product or design, it can be a copyright holder’s worst nightmare.  Copyright ownership includes a bundle of rights.  Part of the bundle of rights include the right to display, the right to copy, and the right to make derivative works.  If anyone can go onto a website, pin your image, and then the image can be re-pinned - the three exclusive rights held by a copyright owner have just be trampled upon.
            "Subject to any applicable account settings you select, you grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify (e.g., re-format), re-arrange, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest for the purposes of operating and providing the Service(s) to you and to our other Users." (Pinterest Terms of Service, April 15, 2012).  While Pinterest's Acceptable Use Policy clearly states that a registered user cannot post an image that violates any laws or the intellectual property of others, very few users truly understand what intellectual property infringement really is.  Furthermore, once an image is pinned to a bulletin board - it is subject to Pinterest's Terms of Use.  It is possible that your image could be used thousands of times before you uncover that your image has been illegally used.
            Any copyright owner needs to become vigilant regarding Pinterest.  If a copyright owner wants to utilize Pinterest, then "Pin It" buttons are available for download to place next to an image.  Pinterest has also developed code for a copyright holder to place in the code of a web page to prevent pinning.  While it is easy for a person to place code for a "Pin It" button, that is not the case for prohibiting pinning.  Many copyright holders utilize website templates and automatic coding for additions to its website, thus the ability to place custom code may not be readily available to a copyright owner.  Pinterest continues to evolve its Terms of Use and options available to users.  This evolution places an even bigger burden on a copyright owner.
            Pinterest is here to stay and as a copyright owner, it is time to get on board.  First and foremost, it is in a copyright owner's best interest to register with Pinterest and create user name(s) that are the same as any trademark(s) or titles of a major work that she may own.  Next, it is important to request to follow those of interest to you - customers, end users, and perhaps suppliers.  This may be considered risky but it is important to know what is going on with your competitors and the best way to stay current is to become part of the scene.  It is important to note that I am not suggesting you follow a competitor.  Unless a copyright owner is friendly with a competitor, it is not a good idea to follow a competitor directly just in case a competitor should ever claim you copied.  Access is an important component in proving copying and you do not want to appear to have unclean hands.  Pinterest needs to become part of your copyright monitoring routine. 
            While monitoring Pinterest, should a copyright owner find her image - it is important to act quickly and according to the procedures outlined by Pinterest for notice of copyright infringement.  (  First, take a screen shot of the board that includes your image.  Next, gather any copyright registration numbers and information required by Pinterest for any copyright infringement takedown actions.  File the appropriate notice immediately with Pinterest and keep track of all send/receive receipts, notices, and confirmations.  Even if Pinterest takes down the infringing image, the user that pinned your image may still be liable for infringement.  The key for determining any further action against the user who used your image is weighing the time and cost that may be involved versus the harm that you, the copyright owner suffered.  It is important to note that a copyright registration is not necessarily required for Pinterest to take down an infringing image.  However, it is incredibly helpful.
            Pinterest remains an ever evolving social media tool that can either be a benefit or burden to a copyright owner.  The key for a copyright owner is to become familiar with Pinterest and if she plans on making Pinterest work for her business, utilize educational resources available to learn the right way to market on Pinterest while protecting your images (a great resource is  The key to Pinterest is knowledge - how to use Pinterest, how to prepare your image(s) for use or non-use on Pinterest, how to report misuse, and how to effectively handle any infringement.

[1] 2012 Experian Digital Marketing Report

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy 2012

Welcome All!

Hold on tight in 2012 - with the New America Invents Act in effect for patent law and continual copyright and digital laws being presented it promises to be a bumpy and fast ride!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Copyrights - The Hot Topic

Many of you are probably taking a look at our blog due to the recent Associated Press article regarding copyrights and crafters. In the world of re-use and recycle, the issue of what can a person use or not use continues to be a "hot topic."

Just to clarify something that was in the article - a few times the word "ideas" was used. While an idea in the purest form is protected under patent law and NOT copyright law, it is my hope that the reader will understand what the outstanding reporter, Amy McCoy of the Des Moines Register was trying to say. Idea can be interchanged with "works" or independent, creative works of authorship.

At the end of the day, it is up to each individual to truly "police" his or herself. It is also important that we, as an artistic or creative community - which include both artists and manufacturers - work together and communicate.

We welcome your comments about the subject of copyrights, the articles, etc. And I PROMISE to blog more. You see, I have that promise a few times on this blog but hope springs eternal!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Copyright Registrations

Happy Spring!

If you are reading this post, I am probably "preaching" to the choir. However, I cannot emphasize the importance of copyright registration in protecting your rights or even establishing them.

The new online US Copyright Registration System makes registration painless and quick. I have even considered breaking my own rules and offering a few tele-seminars or online classes on how to use it so that more people and companies will take advantage of this important tool.

I usually equate copyright registration to an approximate $35 insurance policy. SHOULD something go wrong and someone takes your work, it allows you to be able to collect attorneys' fees, enhanced damages, and the like. There are deadlines for these benefits, but they are well worth it. Also, it is important to have the registration completed should one need to immediately enforce their copyrights. Currently, a special handling for the US Copyright Office is $760 versus $35?! WOW!

Contact your favorite Intellectual Property Attorney today to set up a registration plan, visit the US Copyright Office and familiarize yourself with the requirements, talk to your whatever it takes.

Sorry to be on my soapbox today and usually we are a little more informative but this is a "friendly reminder." Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

Tammy L. Browning-Smith, J.D., LL.M
Browning-Smith P.C.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Orphan Works - Make Your Voice Heard

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Even though the blog is updated sporadically, we have multitudes of followers. Thank you for your loyalty!

The US Government is asking for your input, insight, and feedback regarding Orphan Works. We have known for some time that SOMETHING was going to have to appears as if everyone on all sides are trying to attempt to make it look at least a little fair.

Anytime comments are solicited from a federal agency and it affects your livelihood, we encourage you to participate. Rest assured, in the upcoming days, you will find our response on this call for comments. Please feel free to post your comments, letters, etc. to this post.

All comments must be submitted by Wednesday, March 24 by 5:00 p.m. EST.

Please read below and we'll do our best here to keep you up to date!

One Voice DOES Make a Difference!
Tammy L. Browning-Smith

Last year President Obama appointed and the U.S. Senate confirmed Victoria Espinel to be the first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Her job is "to help protect the creativity of the American public" by coordinating with all the federal agencies that fight the infringement of intellectual property, which includes creating and selling counterfeit goods; pirating video games, music, and books; and infringing upon the many other creative works that are produced by artists in this country.

As you know, the unauthorized copying, sale, and distribution of artists' intellectual property directly impact the ability of artists and creators to control the use of their own creativity, not to mention their ability to receive income they have earned from their labor. This impacts U.S. employment and the economy, and our ability to globally compete.

As required by an Act of Congress (The PRO-IP Act of 2008), Ms. Espinel and her White House team are preparing a Joint Strategic Plan that will include YOUR FEEDBACK on the costs and risks that intellectual property infringement has on the American public.

Here's how to make yourself heard!
1. Send an email to Ms. Espinel and the Obama Administration: intellectualproperty@omb.eop.gov2.

2. Include in your email: your story, why intellectual property rights are important to you, how piracy and infringement affect you, and what the U.S. government can do to better protect the rights of creative Americans.

3. Also include in your email: your name, city, state, and what type of artist you are.

4. DO NOT include any personal or private information as all comments will be posted publically on the White House website.

All comments must be submitted by Wednesday, March 24 by 5:00 p.m. EST.

(From the Copyright Alliance)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Greetings! We've been long lost strangers and we hope to rectify that!

'Tis the tradeshow season. May just returned from Surtex and are getting ready to head to the Licensing Show. I heard a wonderful comment from Ketra Oberlander from Art of Possibilities when she said: "I'll know in October if it was a good show or not." How right she is.

We're just touching base with all of you and reminding you to follow up. Right now, the most important thing is to FOLLOW UP and set your base of support in place. We've been receiving calls from some asking what to do next. There are lots of agreements that can be drafted, but it is best to put your energy on landing the deal, registering your copyrights, and making sure if you are showing any have them protected.

Keep up the great work and sorry for being such a stranger!

Tammy L. Browning-Smith, P.C.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Opportunities in the New Year

Happy New Year One and All!

I hope this finds you all enjoying a joyous holiday season and relaxing for a busy new 2009!

First question on most of your minds...What is going on with Orphan Works? It died when the Legislative Session ended in 2008. HOWEVER, January 8th is just around the corner. That is the start of the new Legislative Session. Rumors are swirling that new Orphan Works legislation will be forthcoming. HOWEVER, we firmly believe that the message has finally gotten to all sides of the issue that the visual arts community is not going away and needs a seat at the table. We stand ready, wiling, and able to help bring forth solutions to solving a problem, while balancing the interests of those who make their living from their work.

The Craft and Hobby Association Winter Show is quickly approaching January 24-28th in Anaheim. The focus will be on "Green" opportunities in the craft industry and an expanded Licensing and Design Section will be forthcoming. If you are interested in licensing...this is a GREAT place to be, network, find artists, find opportunities, and be part of a 30 plus Billion Dollar a year organization.

I am proud to announce that I will be speaking on International Law issues on January 25th. It promises to be full of tips and tricks for successful international relationships. Our firm is constantly fielding questions regarding the "ins and outs" of working across borders. The seminar will be from both a US perspective and an International Perspective. It promises to be full of information...that is for sure. There is so much to put in just 1 hour of time!

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Creating Successful International Relationships
Business Seminar S114

Speaker: Tammy Browning-Smith
Room 207A
The World is getting smaller. Today a business must work across international borders to succeed, but often face complicated legal and communication issues to make these deals a reality. Tammy Browning-Smith works extensively with international relationships, she can break it down and show you how!
This seminar, for both US and International Attendees, will focus on issues that international business deals must consider to make their relationship a success, including:
• Different Laws, Taxes, and Customs across the Globe
• Protecting Your Ideas and Products across borders
• Hints & Helps for Greater Profitability
Plus…all attendees will leave with an International Resource Guide for further research.

The second item that we will be participating in is a "consulting series." This is basically a one on one with me for a 1/2 hr. The sessions will be for educational purposes only, but will give participants an idea of where to go and what type of resources they may need to look for. There are several different professionals sharing their promises to be great!

I speak throughout the year and this is one of my most enjoyable and busiest venues. CHA has made it possible to attend many different seminars at a reasonable prices and have a special express pass for a fixed fee ($50???) that allows you to attend many different seminars. It is a GREAT deal.

Here's to a Create New Year (and hopefully more posts from me!)

Create with your Heart and Your Head!

The Fine Print!

Since there may be legal discussions going on...there must be a disclaimer!

This blog is for educational and information purposes only. It does not constitute the practice of law. The attorney who writes this blog is only licensed in the State of Ohio and Michigan. There is NO attorney-client relationship of any type. You must sign appropriate documenation and have appropriate new client counseling to be a client of Browning-Smith, P.C. Each and every situation is different and all readers must seek his or her own legal counsel. The information on this blog is not guaranteed for any purposes nor is it to be relied on.