Social media sites have been a boon for brand marketers over the
past several years, and one of the latest big trends in social
media – Pinterest.com – has generated buzz
from a growing number of marketers as well as consumers. Pinterest
users can "pin" images, including those from other
websites, to the user's "pinboard". Users can also
post a statement with each picture. Pinned images can be viewed and
"re-pinned" by other Pinterest users, and images
originating from other websites are hyperlinked to their original
sources, which can help marketers drive traffic to their sites. For
those who want to prevent their images from being pinned by third
parties, Pinterest offers a "nopin" code allowing
websites to block users from pinning a website's images.
Using Pinterest to promote a brand, however, may raise
potential legal issues. The risk of IP problems are top of mind
with the potential for a copyright infringement challenge or
perhaps right of publicity issues. Businesses could be held liable
for pinning images to which they do not have rights. Further, a
business could run into trouble if it conducts a marketing campaign
encouraging users to post content on Pinterest; for example, a
prize promotion in which consumers must post pictures as part of
the entry process. A campaign that leads users to pin images to
which others have copyrights could generate legal problems and
damage the marketer's standing among consumers.
Can pinning be false advertising too? Can marketers be held
responsible for claims expressly or impliedly made through photos
and/or captions posted on the marketers' pinboards? The NAD
recently issued the first decision in this area, finding that consumer
weight loss stories posted by Nutrisystem, Inc. on one of its
pinboards were consumer testimonials requiring disclosure of
certain information to avoid misleading consumers. The pinboard,
entitled "Real Customers. Real Success", featured
photographs of Nutrisystem customers with each customer's name,
total weight loss, and a link to the Nutrisystem website appearing
below each photo. The NAD determined that the "pins"
touted weight loss results that were atypical for Nutrisystem
customers, and thus should be qualified with a disclosure of the
results consumers can expect to achieve using Nutrisystem's
weight loss program, in accordance with Federal Trade Commission guidelines for consumer testimonials.
Nutrisystem informed the NAD that the typical results disclosures
were inadvertently omitted from the pinboard, the pins had appeared
on Pinterest for less than two months, and the typicality
disclosures were added immediately upon receipt of the NAD's
letter inquiring into the weight loss "pins." The
disclosure that Nutrisystem posted reads, "Results not
typical. On Nutrisystem®, you can expect to lose at least 1-2
lbs. per week. Individuals are remunerated. Weight lost on prior
Nutrisystem® program." As the Pinterest craze continues to
grow, we expect the legal landscape will continue to evolve. Stay
pinned to this space and we will keep you in the loop on related
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Corporate tweeters or bloggers – employees who post promotional and often entertaining commentary on behalf of their employers’ businesses – add much of their own personal brand – their voice, their opinions, their snarky remarks – to the information they are disseminating on the company’s behalf.
In a First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry released at the end of March in a proceeding begun in 2003, the Federal Communications Commission continued its comprehensive review of its rules, policies and procedures governing radiofrequency radiation and limits on exposure to human beings.