What are the rules
when posting to
© ROBERTO RIZZO / AGE FOTOSTOCK
24 ;e Costco Connection APRIL 2013
By Eric Taub
PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER Kirsten
Kowalski became enamored of Pinterest, the
“online pinboard” that encourages its members to
“organize and share things you love.” Happy to let
others know what moves her, Kowalski created an
“inspiration board,” a gathering of photos from
around the Web that lifted her spirits and, she
hoped, would do the same for others.
But then Kowalski, an
Alpharetta, Georgia, Costco
member, read the site’s terms
and conditions and promptly
deleted all her entries. She realized she was running afoul of
Kowalski is just one of millions using social media. This
rapidly changing arena presents a
variety of new challenges in regard to copyright law.
The information here, provided by Costco
member Cheryl Hodgson, a Santa Monica,
California–based trademark and copyright attorney,
Pinterest spokeswoman Erica Billups, YouTube
spokeswoman Abbi Tatton and Gayle Osterberg of
the U.S. Copyright Office, may help clear up some
confusion and keep social media participants from
becoming enmeshed in legal action.
The rules allowing use of
others’ works are the
same whether you’re
writing a blog, creating a
movie or posting that type
of material on a website.
The social media conundrum
Typically, individuals are forbidden from publishing or posting online the creative works of others without their permission.
That puts sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and
You Tube in an awkward position; they must abide
by the law, but they want to encourage users to come
and experience interesting content that others have
posted. These sites are awash with photographs,
clips from films or TV shows, music and/or written
works—much of which has been posted by people
who don’t own the rights to do so.
Oftentimes, the copyright holders look away,
however, pleased that they’re able to get free publicity for their work. That’s why you can find not just
the official TV clip of Susan Boyle’s singing debut on
You Tube, but scores of other versions as well, posted
by individuals. Old toothpaste and car commercials
don’t get pulled by the companies that made them
because, in the end, it’s good for business.
What are the rules?
Still, that doesn’t absolve users of social websites
from following the copyright laws. The rules allowing use of others’ works are the same whether you’re
writing a blog, creating a movie or posting that type
of material on a website.
Using The Costco Connection
The Costco Connection appreciates that so
many readers feel our material is worthy of
passing along to others. And while we have no
problem (in most circumstances) with people
using content owned by Costco, with proper
attribution or a link to our Online Edition, please
be aware that Costco does not own the rights
to everything on our pages. The rights to photographs, advertisements and non-staff-written
material may be owned by their creators.
To be safe, contact The Costco Connection for
clearance, by emailing
Costco is not liable for any legal action resulting
from improper use.