So, what will happen next for Pinterest, with regards to copyright issues? I asked Attorney Jonathan Pink—who heads the Internet and New Media Team at the law firm Bryan Cave—how he thought current problems around Pinterest copyright would shake out, considering what happened with similar situations in the past with sites like Facebook and YouTube. He answered:
Facebook is different because they only use a thumbnail on [Facebook], (which then links to the original site). The courts have ruled that is not infringement. In fact, that is one easy way that Pinterest could correct the current situation, although I doubt it would work with their form of content delivery. Absent some technological advancement that would allow for such thumbnails, Pinterest will either be sued into oblivion a la Napster, endlessly settle copyright claims (and take down images) a la YouTube, or so few authors will bother to sue the individual pinners (due to cost, low return-on-investment for cost-of-suit, and apathy), that it will continue on more or less as it is. I’m betting that there will be a lawsuit against the site that causes it to morph somewhat. I can’t predict what it will look like three years from now, but I will predict that it will not truly succeed . . . until it works out some of these fundamental issues.
There’s also the chance that Pinterest may work out some sort of arrangement that isn’t on Pink’s list—some fourth possibility that no one has thought of yet. The wild and wooly ...