Image-sharing site Pinterest has been in negotiations for months with photo service Getty. A breakthrough could dispel some of the copyright questions hanging over the hot startup — but one expert says not to hold your breath.
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According to Bill Rosenblatt, an engineer and authority on digital rights issues, the two sides are likely in a logjam over how — or if — Pinterest should use Getty’s image detection software, PicScout. Getty acquired PicScout, which tracks images across the Internet, last year for $20 million.
Rosenblatt speculates that Getty wants Pinterest to license the technology. This would allow Pinterest to take on a role similar to YouTube, a company that responded to copyright criticism by offering rights owners a tool to track and monetize their content:
If you make that analogy, someone like Pinterest, if they feel they’re getting a significant amount of legal threats, it would be reasonable to adopt that technology as a prophylactic against legal action.
The problem is that Pinterest, which is now valued north of $1 billion, might be equally inclined to tell Getty and other image owners to jump in the lake. The site has claimed in the past that it is protected by “safe harbor” rules that protect websites from being liable for users’ activities as long as they comply with takedown requests. If the rule holds, Pinterest should be no more responsible for someone posting a copyrighted picture than a search engine should be for listing a file-sharing site in its search results.