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Pinterest appoints Google lawyer to GC role

Michael Yang will tackle the photo sharing site’s copyright infringement issues

Pinterest, the country’s third most popular social network, has hired former Google deputy general counsel Michael Yang as its inaugural GC.

During his seven-and-a-half years at Google, Yang led a 200-person legal team dealing with product compliance and commercial issues, according to the Wall Street Journal. He previously worked for the California State Senate and for a Washington, D.C., congressional committee.

Founded in 2009, Pinterest caught fire last year and now boasts more than 11 million unique U.S. visitors a month. Earlier this year, the site was valued at $1.5 billion. This increased popularity has brought increased scrutiny, however, particularly when it comes to the site’s copyright policy.

Pinterest allows users to create virtual “pinboards” of their favorite photos and videos, some of which are copyrighted materials published without permission. The company asserts that it is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which does not hold websites liable for the copyright violations of their users, provided that the sites remove infringing content after receiving violation notices.

Yang is no stranger to controversy himself:  While at Google, he handled a 2008 flap over Google Chrome’s terms of service and later met with members of Congress to assuage concerns about the search engine’s new privacy policy. He will start work at Pinterest on June 18.

Read more coverage of the appointment at the Wall Street Journal.

For more InsideCounsel stories about online copyright issues, read:

Sentencing of Thai webmaster threatens Internet, Google says

YouTube prevails in French copyright lawsuit

Copyright holders, not online service providers, must identify infringement

Chrysler Super Bowl ad mistakenly yanked from YouTube

Viacom files appeal in YouTube case

Alanna Byrne

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