Pinterest installs Google lawyer as first-ever GC

Silicon Valley start-up Pinterest has hired former Google deputy general counsel Michael Yang to head its legal department as it continues to crack down on copyright issues.

The popular image-sharing site, which allows users to add photos, ideas and recipes to a virtual pinboard, has been pressurised from intellectual property owners, including Getty Images, to delete or pay for picture use.

Yang, who is understood to have left Google on Friday (8 June), will be keeping track of Pinterest’s copyright issues as the site continues to expand. He stands as Pinterest’s first general counsel after the site was valued at $1.5bn (£970m) in March this year.

While at Google Yang handled a number of privacy issues, including changing Google Chrome’s terms of service when he stood as senior product counsel in 2008 and handling the company’s privacy fallout after its launch of Google Buzz in 2010.

Copyright is an issue for Pinterest as, for example, photographs are uploaded in the same resolution as the original, leading some to question whether users would have any need to consider the original.

Harjinder Obhi, director of litigation for Google EMEA, said of Yang’s move: “He’s moving on to a top role at an exciting business, and we wish him luck. He’s not the first – our alumni run Twitter’s legal department too.”

Alexander Macgillivray was associate general counsel of product and IP at Google until 2009, when he joined Twitter as general counsel.