In an effort to shield itself from allegations of copyright infringement, Pinterest has released code for companies that want block users from ‘pinning’ their content.

The social media site includes the following coding for the ‘nopin’ tag in the help section of its website as follows:

This can be copied and pasted into a web page, ensuring that when a Pinterest user tries to pin the content to their profile a pop-up states: “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

WordPress users can install a nopin plug-in, developed by Shawn Hooper, which will implement the ‘nopin’ functionality.

Pinterest’s T&Cs state that in order to add content to their pinboard, a user must either own the material or have the owner’s permission.

In practice this is rarely the case, but up until now most content owners have been unlikely to take action because even when pins are not correctly credited Pinterest drives traffic back to the original source.

However, the problem is becoming more acute as the site grows in popularity – comScore stats show that Pinterest achieved 11.7m unique monthly viewers in January alone.

Neville Hobson suggests that as the site becomes more of a destination users are less likely to click off of the site, instead simply admiring the content on Pinterest’s platform.

It’s an interesting situation, one that may well result in someone mounting some kind of legal challenge in one jurisdiction or another to test the copyright water, especially if Pinterest starts to make money from their service (which they say they aren’t yet).”

This is a threat that Pinterest obviously can’t afford to ignore, and explains why it has published the new code.

I think it’s another example of digital technology and the internet enabling people to do things that copyright laws never imagined when they were drafted (and amended over time), and now looking woefully out-dated if not out of touch with contemporary society. The web moves faster than the law.”

There’s a fine line here. On one hand, protecting your content is an important cosnideration – especially for smaller or independent businesses – but on the other, the high levels of engagement and enhanced sharing driven by Pinterest has to be good for brand equity. Doesn’t it?