MISC. 17


Pinterest's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy contain provisions typical of most of the agreements surveyed. There is room for improvement in the Data Disclosure and Amendment and Termination categories. Although not unique to Pinterest, the indemnification provisions raise some concerns in the context of a service which probably involves frequent violations of other peoples' intellectual property rights.

Data Use

The Pinterest Terms of Service provide that you retain all of your rights to any content that you post. You grant Pinterest a license to use, modify and distribute your content but only for the purpose of providing the Pinterest service. This important limitation (also contained in the Microsoft and eBay terms) means that Pinterest can't use your content for an unrelated purpose. 

The Pinterest service raises an interesting legal question that has received a lot of attention in the press. The whole point of the site is to collect images from other sites and "pin" them to a Pinterest board. Almost invariably, the users doing the pinning do not have any rights in those images themselves. Pinterest makes you promise that you will not be violating the rights of the person who owns the content:  

Pinterest values and respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree that any User Content that you post to the Service does not and will not violate any law or infringe the rights of any third party

But most users probably have no idea as to whether the content they are pinning violates the rights of third parties. Sometimes it will not: if you post a small portion of someone else's work and comment on it, it will probably be considered "fair use" and will not be a breach of copyright. In other cases, however, you may be infringing on someone else's rights and therefore breaching the Pinterest terms of service.

SCORE: 18 / 25
  • Pinterest can only use your content to provide the service
  • You promise that you are not infringing anyone else's rights (you probably are)

Data Disclosure

According to the Terms of Service:

We can disclose any information about you to government or law enforcement officials or private parties as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate to respond to claims and legal process including, but not limited to, subpoenas, to protect the property and rights of Pinterest or a third party, to protect the safety of the public or any person, or to prevent or stop activity we may consider to be, or to pose a risk of being, illegal, unethical or legally actionable activity.

Although some of this language is unnecessarily broad, this provision is not unusual. Most of the companies surveyed have similar disclosure rights.

SCORE: 17 / 25
  • Pinterest can share your data with third parties

Amendment & Termination

Pinterest has the right to change the Terms of Use at any time, with or without notice. It also has the right to terminate your account without notice for any reason.

SCORE: 10 / 25
  • Pinterest can terminate your account and change the terms whenever it wants


The Terms of Service contain an indemnity clause, which means that you assume responsibility for certain losses that Pinterest may suffer. This is not unusual: all of the sites surveyed contain a clause to this effect. However, it is more of a concern than is usual because of the nature of the Pinterest service. If you're a regular user of Pinterest, you'll probably violate someone else's intellectual property rights at some point (see above). If that person sues Pinterest for distributing their copyrighted material, the indemnity clause means that you're ultimately responsible for any judgment against Pinterest (as well as for Pinterest's expenses including legal fees). 

In practice, this probably won't happen. The copyright owner will likely ask Pinterest to take down the content rather than sue, and Pinterest will likely not enforce the indemnity against its users. But the way the terms are drafted, it is a possible outcome. Using someone else's copyrighted material should always be done with caution, on Pinterest no less than elsewhere. 

SCORE: 17 / 25
  • You indemnify Pinterest against suits by other people, which means that if you violate someone else's rights by submitting their content, you may have to pay up