Court Sides with Pinterest in Photographer’s Lawsuit

Court Sides with Pinterest in Photographer's Lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled that Pinterest algorithms that place images next to ads do not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The summary judgment, earlier this month, stems from a longer legal battle between photographer Harold Davis and the social media platform over several images uploaded by various Pinterest users. These user-uploaded images were then displayed in feeds with paid advertisements. The photographer claimed that by using his images alongside advertisements, Pinterest was taking advantage of his copyrighted work. In the summary judgment, however, the court said Pinterest did not control ad placements.

Davis told Rangefinder he filed a notice of appeal on May 31. a third party downloaded it,” he said of the court ruling.

[Read: How to Protect Your Photos on Social Media]

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. granted Pinterest summary judgment, determining that Pinterest’s use of the image falls under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The law protects online service providers from certain copyright claims when a user, not the platform itself, uploads copyrighted content. For the claim to violate DMCA protections, the the judge noted that “the plaintiff must demonstrate both that the service provider had the right and ability to control the alleged infringements and that it received a financial benefit directly attributable to those specific alleged infringements”.

The judge’s decision was based in part on Pinterest’s algorithms, saying the platform’s machine learning model did not appear to embed advertising cues in the copyrighted work. Pinterest’s advertising platform is based on machine learning using user cues as well as details such as the pin’s title, according to court documents. “There is simply no evidence in the record that Pinterest embeds anything into Pins generally, or into Plaintiff’s work specifically, to create or obtain signals for its advertising algorithms,” it reads. in the decision.

[Read: Photo Copyright Basics and Rock Solid Contracts]

Davis notes that he didn’t take issue with users who uploaded the images in the first place because they appear on boards for personal use. Instead, he argued that putting the images in the same feed as the promoted pins — which Pinterest takes advantage of — constituted “unauthorized commercial use.” However, Pinterest DMCA Takedown Procedures– one of the protection requirements under the DMCA – did not have an option to allow the image to remain but not be used in conjunction with advertising.

The judge, however, disputed the photographer’s wish for the image to remain on the platform. “In other words, rather than notify Pinterest of an alleged copyright infringement on its platform so that Pinterest can remove it, Plaintiff wants Pinterest to continue displaying its images on its website. and its mobile app, but in no way does it want Pinterest to profit from doing so,” the order reads.

The court case grew out of a complaint filed in November 2019 by Davis.