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Pinsanity reigns

Could Pinterest be the next Napster? Thorny copyright issues bedevil popular website

News_Pinterest_collage_board has become one of the top 10 social networking sites, but now cold water is being thrown in its face with accusations of copyright infringement. Pinterest

Forget “Linsanity." “Pinsanity” has officially taken over the Internet. I speak, of course, about the latest social media craze: It seems everyone these days is surfing the Internet and pinning photos of clothes, cute pets, recipes and just about anything else you can imagine to their digital bulletin boards. Pinterest has become one of the fastest growing network sites in history, but now cold water is being thrown in its face with accusations of copyright infringement.

You see, most of the photos being pinned belongs to someone else, which could violate the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). The site’s Terms of Service are clear, but some industry leaders suggest that 98 percent of the materials being posted are in direct violation of those terms.

What’s a website to do? Pinterest does have a way for someone to report unlicensed use of material but appears to do very little in policing the site itself. A few days ago it began providing websites with a "do not pin" code to block users from "pinning" unauthorized material. On Friday, photo-sharing giant Flickr began using the code, so if someone tries to "pin" a photo, a box pops up with the words:

This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"

Pinterest also limits pin captions to 500-characters to stop people from stealing blog posts. However, some people don't mind having a blog post published because it can drive traffic to the original site, so Pinterest is letting publishers embed a “Pin It” button directly on their website, which is a virtual permission slip for people to share content.

Still, not everyone is happy and one wonders if will fall of the way of other sites like Napster.  

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