"Pinterest, We Have a Problem" Response

So across my Twitter feed today I get a link titled "Pinterest, We Have a Problem". So having a few friends and a wife that use the service I decided to read it and see what was up. What I found was your typical FUD piece by someone who doesn't have a clue. Basically the author makes the claim that Pinterest has a policy in its TOS that mas you laying claim to anything you share, lets take a look shall we?

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.

Here is the problem. The guy running the blog over there doesn't understand the context of the above. He mistakenly gets the idea that Pinterest is referring to what you share with link to as being the Content. This couldn't be further from the truth. You dont post content to Pinterest, you post a link. See in truth Pinterest is nothing other than a huge database that says Suzi likes Bobsblogs.info's sausage soup recipe, here is the link. It does dynamically display this linked content and also gives the ability to comment on it (it being the link stored at Pinterest). The content you are laying claim to is the link.

Wait you're saying, that's crazy, how could you own the link? Well you cant own the link however you can own the data that comprises the link. That is 'content'. Why is this distinction important?

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

In short the section referenced above is very important to how we use the web today. It says that Pinterest as a interactive service provider is not liable for what you post, you are, they dont provide content, you do, they are simply the medium.

Think of it like this, if your local grocery store had a bulletin board where local businesses could put information, business cards, or those information sheets with 30 tear off tabs for phone numbers, and you posted a sign up sheet for killing neighborhood cats the store wouldn't be liable because they only provided the board, you posted the content.

This is exactly the same, they are saying if you post it (a link) its yours not theirs. You own the link, its your data, just like it would be your flyer on the bulletin board. It may have a picture of fluffy the cat, but doesn't mean you own the cat. See one of the stipulations of section 230 is that if they have to edit the content the users post then instead of a medium (a bulletin board) they are instead assuming the role of editor(think newspaper editor) and that makes them liable not only for your content they edit but also any other content on their site. So in the case of our earlier example if they took down the posting of the bulletin board for the cat killing service but missed a posting on how to make a car bomb and someone used that information to make one they could then be held as liable as if they posted the instructions themselves. This is a position that no interactive service provider wants to be in so they try to not edit any of the content and make the change from service to publisher.

So before you make a panicked analysis know what the hell you are talking about.