Every major website has a lengthy Terms of Service policy, but how many people actually read them before signing up? Sure, they all check the box saying they did it, but I’d estimate that 98% of those people are lying.
Take Pinterest, the wildfire of the internet world. Their original Terms of Service policy included this:
By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site.
So by pinning a photo that you didn’t own in the first place, you gave Pinterest the right to sell it to someone else. Now that can’t be right, can it?
Oh, but there’s this:
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;
Now I see. I’m only supposed to upload images I own or have the legal rights. Sure. That’s gonna happen.
So rather than make liars out of all of their users, Pinterest has a new, clearer Terms of Service policy that will go into effect in April.
One big change, they’ve removed the word “sell.” Here’s the new language:
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. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict Pinterest’s rights under separate licenses to User Content. Please remember that the Pinterest Service is a public platform, and that other Users may search for, see, use, and/or re-pin any User Content that you make publicly available through the Service.
They also changed the language in their Acceptable Use Policy to say you promise not to upload any content that “infringes any third party’s Intellectual Property Rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other personal or proprietary rights.”
So, instead of explicitly requiring you to have the rights, it asks you not to infringe on the rights of others. Semantics, but it does give everyone some leeway. The language states that Pinterest has a right, but is not required to remove content that goes against the Acceptable Use Policy. They did, however, include documentation that makes it easier for a third party to file a copyright claim.
Lastly, Pinterest says they’ve “added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.”
Private pinboards? That sounds troublesome! Still, it’s good to see that they’re thinking about ways to expand the service. Now all they need to figure out is how to make it pay.