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Anthony Falzone, Deputy General Counsel of Pinterest, Inc.

April 1, 2016

In re​
: Section 512 Study: Notice and Request for Public Comment
Docket No. USCO-2015-7
Comment of Pinterest Inc.
Pinterest is an online catalog of ideas used by millions of people around the world to find and save
ideas for everyday life. We support a growing ecosystem of businesses, publishers, and users who
together have helped build this catalog of ideas. As an online platform of user- and partner-generated
content, Pinterest relies on the balanced copyright protections embodied in Section 512, and we submit
this comment to highlight the importance of Section 512 in enabling new technology platforms to develop
and encouraging responsible cooperation between those platforms and content owners.
In short, Section 512 works, and Pinterest is a good example of exactly how well it works. The
DMCA safe harbor has played a vital role in enabling Pinterest to grow from a nascent technology into a
platform that over 100 million people use to discover new ideas and inspiration. Pinterest also creates value
for businesses and publishers, connecting them with a set of engaged and passionate users looking to
make their ideas a reality, which in turn leads to more traffic to their websites, distribution of their content,
ad revenue, and retail sales. Without Section 512, this ecosystem might never have existed.

Pinterest connects users with new ideas and the businesses and publishers that can help make
those ideas a reality.
Pinterest’s online catalog of ideas starts with our users, who are known as Pinners. Pinners save
visual bookmarks, or Pins, full of ideas that inspire them. They compile these Pins into collections called
Boards, which are available to be discovered by other Pinners, who can save those Pins to their own
Through this process of discovering and saving quality content, Pinterest also enables businesses
and publishers to engage with Pinners. These businesses and publishers contribute to the Pinterest
ecosystem by creating their own accounts and uploading their content for users to discover and save. They
also encourage visitors on their websites to save content to Pinterest by adding the “Pin It” button on their

webpages. In return, they get increased traffic, distribution, ad revenue, and retail sales. Indeed, roughly
two-thirds of the content on Pinterest comes directly from these businesses and publishers, helping
Pinterest users do everything from finding their next trip idea from the Four Seasons, to starting a new
project with the help of Martha Stewart.

The clear rules established by Section 512 enabled Pinterest to develop as a company and
encouraged cooperation between Pinterest and content creators.
Without the certainty provided by clear platform liability rules like Section 512, Pinterest might not
exist today. Early on, most of our content was provided by users themselves, and the DMCA safe harbor
was key in protecting us as we got our feet on the ground. Given the potential for statutory damages of up
to $150,000 per work infringed and the volume of content on our service, a copyright lawsuit could have
meant legal exposure in the hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars. Without the protection of the
DMCA safe harbor, the mere threat of massively expensive copyright litigation might have prevented us
from developing our technology, and the uncertainty created by such potential threats might have
discouraged outside investors from funding our venture.
Instead, Section 512 provided a set of balanced protections that ensured a level of certainty for
Pinterest and our investors, while giving content owners the ability to control whether their content
appeared on our platform. Having that level of certainty enabled us to build our company, seek outside
investment, and develop new products and features, knowing that if we met the requirements laid out in
Section 512, we would be protected as a responsible platform.
But importantly, Section 512 set a floor, not a ceiling, on our responsibilities as a platform. As we
matured as a company, Section 512 encouraged us to build a service that creates value for content
creators and publishers, like our partners at Conde Nast, Hearst, and National Geographic, among others.
Because Section 512 enabled content owners to request the removal of their content from our platform at
any time, we found that we had to provide value to our partners to keep their content on our platform. As a
result, Section 512 encouraged us to form creative partnerships with content creators and publishers. It

incentivized voluntary cooperation and respect, which led to better business outcomes for us and our
Our incentives are simple: if content partners understand that Pinterest not only respects copyright
but is focused on giving partners more say over how their content appears on Pinterest, they will be more
likely to contribute to the Pinterest ecosystem. Additionally, we hope that if we drive economic value to our
partners by helping them reach new audiences for their businesses, those partners will come to view
Pinterest as an extension of their business model. And if we fail to deliver that value, our content partners
can take their content off the platform. The clear rules established by the DMCA safe harbor enabled this
type of cooperation, encouraging us to work with content owners to find creative product solutions tailored
to our specific service that benefit those content owners, Pinterest’s users, and Pinterest itself.
One example of the voluntary cooperation enabled by Section 512 is the Pinterest attribution
program. Early in our history, we learned that Flickr, a popular photo-sharing site, was unhappy about its
users’ content appearing on Pinterest. After taking the time to understand Flickr’s concerns, we learned
that its primary goal was giving attribution to its users. As a result, our engineering team built a tool that
allowed us to communicate with Flickr’s system and attach the author’s name to that image. Now, Flickr
photographers can have their work discovered by new audiences, and those new audiences know who
made that work and how to find it. Since then, we have expanded this collaboration to more than 20
partners in the attribution program, including Getty Images and National Geographic.
Pinterest has also developed tools to help content owners prevent certain content from being
saved to Pinterest, and to enable the quick removal of their content if they so wish. Though many
publishers and content creators work collaboratively with Pinterest and want their content to appear on our
platform, we recognize that our platform may not be right for every content owner. As a result, we built
functionality that allows content owners to add a code to their website, called the “no pin” code, which
prevents people from being able to save content from their site to Pinterest. We also built site-wide removal
tools that make it easy for content creators to remove their content from Pinterest.
Finally, while we knew partners valued the traffic and resulting ad revenue and sales they received
from Pinterest, we wanted to find other ways to help them find value from the Pinterest ecosystem. For that

reason we launched Buyable Pins, allowing partners to sell their products on Pinterest at no additional
cost. We now have thousands of merchants selling millions of products through Buyable Pins. Since
launching in June 2015, we have doubled the number of Buyable Pins to more than 60 million. Merchants
are experiencing improved mobile conversion rates, new customers, and incremental sales.
Importantly, these solutions are not one-size-fits-all solutions that could apply across all platforms.
They could only be developed in cooperation with content creators in the context of the Pinterest platform.
The clear set of ground rules established by Section 512 empowered us to develop these partnerships,
which have helped to drive more value to all parties involved.

Section 512 serves as a necessary counterbalance to a broken statutory damages regime.
Given how much Section 512 has done to enable the development of new technologies and
platforms, we believe these basic protections are working as intended and should not be changed. Indeed,
maintaining a strong safe harbor is crucial to counterbalance other aspects of copyright law that pose a
more significant threat to innovation, such as statutory damages.
The current system of statutory damages is outdated and creates uncertainty that chills creativity
and innovation online. Statutory damages can range from $750 to $150,000 per work, and there is a lack of
clear guidance from the statute or case law on how that range should be applied to a claim of infringement.
For a small to medium-sized company that deals with even a modest number of works, the potential
exposure from a copyright claim could easily range from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. The
mere threat of such massive damages would be enough to steer some companies and their investors away
from non-infringing technologies, resulting in lost opportunity, jobs, and tremendous potential economic
value. The clarity provided by Section 512 enables new companies to grow and develop despite this threat
of outsized damage awards. Though we do not advocate making any changes to Section 512, if Congress
determines that changes to Section 512 are necessary, Congress should also consider countervailing
reform to other areas of copyright law, like statutory damages, to maintain balance within the system.

The economic value generated by Pinterest might not have been possible without the DMCA safe
harbors. Had the protections afforded by the safe harbors not been in place, Pinterest may have never had
the time or opportunity to mature into the responsible platform that it is today, a platform that supports 100
million users and businesses. Instead, Section 512 worked exactly as Congress intended, providing a clear
set of ground rules that enabled the growth of Pinterest into a useful platform and encouraged Pinterest to
work together with content owners to develop creative, platform-specific tools that benefit all parties
involved. Maintaining the clarity and balance struck by Section 512 is crucial to ensuring that future
companies will have these same opportunities.