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Worries Over Copyright Infringement Kept Warren's Senate Campaign Off Pinterest

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, December 4 2012

Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren's 2012 campaign stayed away from the social image-sharing platform Pinterest because the campaign's new media director feared that the platform could be shut down by copyright infringement claims.

"The reason I didn’t create a Pinterest account for Elizabeth was because there’s been a lot of legal talk about whether the content on Pinterest is legal or not," said Lauren Miller, the Warren campaign's new media director. "There’s been talk about shutting down Pinterest. From my perspective, with such a limited amount of time to get everything done, I didn’t want to put a lot of effort into setting up a Pinterest account if Pinterest was going to get shut down two months into my campaign."

"It would have been a great target audience – women were a big audience we were trying to target in our campaign," she added.

Warren's site includes a button that enables site visitors to share content on Pinterest, but the campaign did not actively manage a presence on the site. Despite sporadic talk about the legality of Pinterest's business model of enabling people to share images and videos on its platform without clearing rights first, the platform still appears to be thriving, and many political candidates across the spectrum used it this campaign cycle. (Like most other online platforms and intermediaries, Pinterest follows the take-down procedures established by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects intermediaries from legal liability if they promptly remove material that someone claims ownership to.)

Another element that factored into Miller's calculations was time. She was the Warren campaign's sole in-house new media manager, and ran all of Warren's digital operations, from shooting video, managing events and Warren's Twitter and Facebook social media accounts. The Democratic-leaning tech firm Trilogy Interactive managed the campaign's content management system.

Miller made the remarks recently at the New Organizing Institute's Rootscamp event late last week. Also speaking on the panel were Hilary Nachem, Wisconsin Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin's new media director, and Alex Kellner, Missouri Senator Claire MacCaskill's digital director (Kellner said for his part that MacCaskill didn't take 'like' Pinterest, but 'loved' using Instagram, and has sole access to her Twitter account.)