Photographer Suing Pinterest

A photographer has had enough of social site Pinterest profiting off of his copyrighted images, so he’s taking the company—which he says is worth more than $11 billion—to court. Seattle-based fine art photographer Christopher Boffoli makes images of miniature people interacting with food, and the whimsical images are quite popular so they’re inevitably shared freely all around the Internet. That’s the nature of the 21st century, but Boffoli’s issue is that Pinterest isn’t doing enough to protect his rights to his work. After all, the company earns ad revenue, Boffoli argues, and it’s on the backs of the content creators whose intellectual property populates Pinterest’s servers. According to PetaPixel, Boffoli has also sued Google, Imgur and Twitter in the past, and his Pinterest challenge has a trial date set for early next year. According to PetaPixel he rejected a settlement offer from Pinterest, saying the case is bigger than that. That article’s comments reveal that some photographers oppose Boffoli’s lawsuit, essentially equating it to spitting into the wind in this new era of digital sharing. I would argue that ease of sharing shouldn’t be confused with a creator abandoning the rights to their work, and Pinterest’s profitability alone—no matter the dollar amount—means that the company is earning revenue, at least in part, on the uncompensated and unrequested distribution of copyrighted works. That alone merits scrutiny in a court of law. As content creators, we should be watching this case closely.

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