Twitterers are all a flutter with Pinterest this week and debate rages between creators and pinners about whether items pinned on Pinterest are copyright.

Two debates I’ve joined are on ‘Lateral Action’  (see and Rackspace (

The main debate falls into three categories. The first group (largely made up of creative), see the benefit of social media forums for visual artists and welcome Pinterest broadly as a marketing tool irrespective of any infringement of creative rights. The second group is the outraged minority who view pinning with suspicion and who see every pin as a potential copyright infringement which undermines the fabric of legal protection for creative works. The third group are the pinners who just pin and don’t really seem to care either way whether the image or work is copyright, who it belongs to and whether any of this really matters.

So, does it matter whether the post is copyright and who it belong to?

From an English Copyright Law perspective any image pinned which was not taken, made or created by the person pinning could infringe the creators copyright.  That means the creator has a claim against the person pinning, and possibly against Pinterest too.

Nothing in law is ever simple though. If however you take a photo of an original work, image, installation or design and pin it, it is arguable that you have copyright in your photographic interpretation of the work and can pin it freely without worrying about the artists rights in the original.

Matters are more complicated if you pin images of branded products, where even if you created the image you might infringe trade mark law and the trade mark owners might seek removal of the image and compensation for its unauthorised use.

Pinterest is keen to point out in its Ts & Cs that it has a notify and take down policy so if you as a visual artist, creative individual or TM owners whose work appears without a credit or permission you can try to have it removed.

But again, does this actually matter?

The law is complex and it is changing through Court decisions and legislative initiatives. Copyright law in England is three hundred years old and was originally designed to create a monopoly right for the creator of a work who could dictate how it was reproduced. In the digital age, this seems quaint, but there is a valid argument that revenues from copyright exploitation encourage and fund the continuance of creative work (don’t get me started on this pet subject) and in my mind it does matter. So, the question is how should copyright be respected? The rule of thumb for posting images to Pinterest should be to check who owns the work/brand before pinning, but who does that? A better practice might be to mark work clearly, allowing the creator/brand owner the opportunity to be credited. In doing this the creators right to be recognised and remunerated is acknowledged,  marketing can be freely undertaken and the pinning public can show the world what has caught their eye and imagination like never before – which must be good for copyright and creativity in the long run. 

For advice on copyright, contact Joanne Frears 0207 339 7119


Bollywood Reaction to Indian Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012

The new Indian Copyright (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed last week by the Indian parliament amid its drive to solve some of the copyright issues that dog the media and entertainment industry in India. 

Broadly the Bill strengthens copyright protection across traditional and digital media and the internet and introduces royalty payments through statutory licensing rather like the PRS/MCPS. One issue that the bill has sought to address with is protection of the rights of authors of literary works like lyrics or scripts and musical works and to grant them an equal right in the royalties earned from exploiting these works by granting powers to the Copyright Board to set interim tariffs although it is not clear how this will work. The bill also bans cover versions of copyright work for five years from the date of first recording giving an almost ‘first to market’ advantage for the original creation, but arguably preventing re-use of the work and closing down certain revenue streams.

Whilst politicians herald the bill as championing artisans, at the other end of the spectrum film and producers such as Ken Ghosh believe it to be unfair. Ghosh tweeted: “All who are part of creative process should benefit from the Copyright Amendment (Bill), which is sadly not so. Film directors, writers, choreographers and art directors don’t get any benefits from this amendment to Copyright Act.” Others in the industry claim that the issue of piracy has been almost completely overlooked.

Gowree Gokhale of leading lndian law firm Nishith Desai commented “The Amendments were much awaited and now that they are almost a reality, it will be interesting to see how the industry will deal with the impact of the changes. While this may be the genie’s lamp gifted to the lyricists, music composers, artists and the likes, it may prove to be a pandora’s box to the producers with the legal and business paradoxes that it is likely to create.”

Gowree offers insight into the practical aspects of structuring arrangements between the creative individuals;  The agreements will have to be carefully drafted to allocate the price for various rights so that the exact amount to be shared with the composers, script/screenplay writers lyricists and performers can be allocated at the first instance.” Despite this, even top lawyers at Nishith Desai concede that it is not clear at present how the commercial arrangements would work.  Ms Gokhale goes on, “It appears that copyright societies will have to play a more pro-active role by first providing a detailed tariff card for all types of exploitation and secondly by collecting and enforcing the underlying rights. The Amendments have certainly given room for using creative lawyering skills to develop and structure innovative business models to help the industry effectively deal with the changes.”

I will watch this new law with interest. For advice on Media Law, media funding and technology or branding please contact Justin Stephenson on or Joanne Frears on For expert advice in connection with the Indian film industry, we are very pleased to refer work to Gowree Gokhale at Gowree@