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Pinterest 2012 is YouTube 2006.


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Owen Thomas of BI returns to pounding the table for why Google should buy Pinterest. (They did this in April, too.)

The heart of the issue resides in whether Pinterest has the right to show you images like the one above, that violates someone's copyright, in all likelihood:

Pinterest today is just like YouTube in 2006.

By that, do we mean a fast-growing social-sharing property without a proven revenue model?

No. We mean Pinterest is a massive lawsuit waiting to happen.

Now that Pinterest has raised $100 million and is worth a notional $1.5 billion, it's painted a big, fat, juicy target on itself for photographers and other copyright holders to come after it for allowing users to upload lots of gorgeous, high-resolution images.

Pinterest claims fair use, but their logic may not be defensible:

Unfortunately, the fair-use rules which grant some exceptions to copyright were written long before the idea of a hyperlink existed, and make no allowances for links or credit. (Fair use, for example, clearly lets publications like Business Insider show you screenshots of Pinterest pages featuring images that could get Pinterest in legal trouble when discussing that same topic.)

So here's why BI believes Google HAS to buy Pinterest:

Google can't afford a small startup without a solid business model or a sophisticated legal team to take on that battle and not win.

So to protect the $36.5 billion a year it does in advertising -- largely on material created by others that it helps users discover through search -- Google will have to buy Pinterest. And probably Tumblr, too.

It's cheaper than letting them lose a lawsuit.

It's actually very important to The Web that fair use allow websites to use images if they credit the source and link back.

See also: Should Google build Instagram or Pinterest?

Perfect 10 has already sued Tumblr, which, like Pinterest, allows users to upload high-resolution photos.

[Read more...]

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