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Is Pinterest entitled to a safe harbor defense against claims of copyright infringement? We may need to wait a while to see the Court’s take on the issue, as Christopher Boffoli’s case against Pinterest has been dismissed with prejudice.

     A couple of our past posts (here and here) took a look at Christopher Boffoli’s case against Pinterest filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

     Just to recap, Boffoli is a commercial photographer who filed suit against Pinterest on November 25, 2014.  Mr. Boffoli’s complaint alleged that Pinterest had infringed copyrights in certain photographs that were his work. According to the complaint, Boffoli’s  work has been published in major publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. The complaint also claims that Mr. Boffoli’s business is based upon revenue derived from licensing of his work. Similar to a prior case that Mr. Boffoli filed against Imgur, Boffoli alleged that he sent a “take down” notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA), but that Pinterest (and Imgur) failed to remove Boffoli’s photographs from its site, notwithstanding its alleged promise to do so.

     Pinterest filed its answer to Boffoli’s complaint in late January, 2015. Pinterest’s main defense was that it is protected against Boffoli’s claims by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. Section 512). Pinterest’s answer also claimed that Mr. Boffoli failed to mitigate any alleged damage because he allegedly never followed up with Pinterest regarding his request that Pinterest issue a “take down notice.”

     The Court’s scheduling order originally set the trial date for May 31, 2016. In September 2015, though, Mr. Boffoli dismissed his case against Pinterest with prejudice. That means that the case  is totally finished, i.e. Mr. Boffoli would not be able to refile the case against Pinterest (at least regarding the particular photographs at issue). While we can’t say whether or not the parties entered into a settlement agreement to end the case, any potential agreement is likely confidential. Since the case was dismissed with prejudice though, there’s a fair chance that the parties came to some sort of settlement.  So unfortunately for us (but fortunately for Pinterest and Mr. Boffoli) the case is over and we won’t get to see the Court’s take on Mr. Boffoli’s copyright claims against Pinterest nor on Pinterest’s safe harbor defense.

     It’s worth restating that artists are not without a few tools to help protect their work on sharing sites like Pinterest. For example, Flickr allows artists to disable content sharing for their work, if desired. Also, Pinterest helped formulate a “do-not-pin” code to help artists protect their work from being “pinned’ on the Pinterest website. For an overview of this feature, see Lim Yung-Hui’s Forbes2012 article, here.

This post is intended to convey general information only and should not be construed as a legal opinion or legal advice.  Any opinions expressed are our own. Readers should not take any action, or refrain from taking any action, based upon the information contained in our site and posts, but should consult with their own attorney concerning their own situation and  their specific legal questions. Visiting our website, reading posts and/or posting comments does not establish any form of attorney-client relationship with us.

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