Pinterest Updates Terms Of Service As It Preps An API And Private Pinboards: More Copyright Friendly

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Pinterest is growing up fast: just last week the image-based social network rolled out redesigned profile pages, and now it’s following that up with an updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy and Privacy Policy that sharpen how the company interfaces on a number of commercial points, as it rides its wave and rapidly reaches and passes 12 million users.

“We think that the updated Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future,” CEO Ben Silbermann wrote in an email late on March 23 to Pinterest users informing them of the changes, due to take effect on April 6. From the looks of it, that future direction involves not just more private experiences on Pinterest but also stronger push to get Pinterest working in a whole lot more places, and with a whole lot more partners.

The new terms put a much stronger emphasis on how Pinterest can commercially use the information you post on the site. Specifically, Cold Brew Labs (owner of Pinterest) says it is changing its terms to spell out that Pinterest does not have the right to sell your content — something it says it never intended to do in the first place.

“Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for us to sell your content,” Silbermann writes. “Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.”

Conversely, users are not allowed to use the site for commercial purposes, either. “We grant you a license to use the Service, including accessing and viewing Pinterest Content, for your personal, noncommercial use to allow you to express yourself, discuss public issues, report on issues of public concern, engage in parody and as expressly permitted by the features of the Service.”

And speaking to all the controversy around the use of copyrighted material that has surrounded how Pinterest users pin copyrighted content — raised by Flickr but also touching rights owners like Getty — the site says it now has “simpler” tools to make it easier to report infringements on copyrighted or trademarked content.

But while it looks like it might be getting easier to report infringements, it appears that it will still be up to Pinterest to approve whatever changes need to take place as a result. Given that at the moment over 80 percent of content is re-pinned rather than original content, it’s not likely that this will be the last we hear of the intersection of Pinterest and content infringements.

The company also gave more indication of what products might be on the horizon. Silbermann writes that across all of its revised terms the company has “added language that will pave the way for new features that include a Pinterest API as well as Private Pinboards.”

The Pinterest API will likely bring more of the functionality of Pinterest out of the site, but also make it easier for users to pin content to Pinterest from other places. But Pinterest content, of course, is already being used on third-party sites, and in some cases for commercial gain by those doing the integration. (We wrote only yesterday about the social marketing company Vitrue, which offers a product to its clients to port Pinterest content to its Facebook brand pages. It’s doing the same with Instagram.)

Another key area of change, and one that Pinterest really had to address as it continues hone its credibility as it continues to grow, is that it is now formally no longer allowing pins that “explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.” Silbermann writes that these revisions were devised partly in response to user feedback — or in his words, “help from our community”. One wonders how much its 80-percent-female user base played a part in this change.