I have been asked a lot of questions concerning the Meltwater VS AP infringement case. First let me say that I am not well acquainted with Meltwater News. I know it is a news clipping service but it seems to have other areas also. I did a quite Google and found many people who say they worked there and it was just a boiler room type atmosphere. Not what I hear about Google. So I think the comparison is unfair in all scenarios.
My view on fair use is pretty simple. It was done to protect free speech from being overrun by copyrights and to give the general public access to things like commentary, libraries and things. The big thing I get from it is that it is not for large corporations to skate around paying for product they take and then sell or use to generate income. That is just a way to keep from paying the copyright holder their due. They did the work, not companies that scrapped the information or just plain took it for profit.
I am not a fan of that and these companies like Pinterest that have probably hundreds of thousands of infringed product and they tell people, we honor copyrights but go out and find something really cool on the net and pin it. That reminds me of the character two faced in the batman series. Flip a coin and today we are going to say this but when you are not looking we want you to do this. Give me a break. I have not been and will never be a fan of Fair Use unless it specifically names who can use it. I have no problem with free speech, matter of fact I am a huge supporter of it, I think public libraries should be fair use. I think in the proper context writers need fair use for articles that they are using in schools and commenting on including products.
I do not think any corporation should be founded on taking other people’s work and generating income without paying a licensing fee. Google must agree, I have read several times that they and AP came to an agreement. That is the way it should be.
I would like some of these companies to explain why they think gathering up other peoples work from them and then using it to generate income is Fair Use. If they are going to be allowed to do that, they should have a huge tax placed on them before expenses.
With that said here is my opinion of the Pinterest issue as requested. I think they should be more responsible and help get rid of the infringers not protect them. Infringing is a crime; many of their “users” are probably guilty of a federal felony. Look it up, so in my mind Pinterest is aiding and abetting a felon and actively inducing them to commit a crime. Then playing the “I did not know card”. Please. They tell people to go get the things knowing that they do not understand. They also then put the blame on the people. I had one person infringe over 30 copyrighted registered photos on Pinterest. I have one photo that has been pinned and repined by businesses and others many many times. I am in the process of billing them now and when they refuse because Pinterest is Fair Use then the serious processes start. The recent court ruling on Meltwater I hope is just the beginning. Fair Use is a US concept pushed for money more than rights. Free speech is well protected by almost everyone.
I personally hope that the courts start using secondary infringement (vicarious liability) on companies that do things like that. I am personally going to be invoicing Pinterest for my licensing fees for the people who pin my photos. I can find nothing in the safe harbor hiding place that says I cannot bill them for it. They have the ability to pass it on to the user. I would bill them direct if they would give the ability. That is one thing they need to change. They will scream I am protecting their privacy; I and many others are about to start screaming back at them, you are protecting someone breaking the law and promoting breaking the law and here is your invoice.
I am glad that I have received emails of people who are working on class action lawsuits against Pinterest. I have stated that it may have a place but stealing the work of others to sell advertising and future profits, that is just plain wrong and should be fought every step of the way.
As I said, all this is my opinion and comments. Also if some think it is legal advice, they are wrong, there is nothing here that could be even remotely claimed to be that. But here it is . I am not a lawyer, so I do not give out legal advice.