Monday, March 5, 2012

The Pinterest Predicament

Pretty Pin Boards, Pretty Ugly Terms

So Michele brought this to my attention just minutes after I had hung up with a dear old friend who had just discovered the wonders of Pinterest and we had enjoyed a nice long chat extolling it's virtues! I just don't know what to think now. I'm hoping that Pinterest will address these issues very soon. As Michele rightly points out they have very contradictory policies right now. Their "etiquette" policy says that you shouldn't pin your own things and use your pinboards for self promotion but by agreeing to their terms of service which, let's be honest,  we all did without reading, you are saying that everything you pin is something you own rights to or have the right to pin and that in the event of a lawsuit (think Napster) YOU are liable for the copyrights you violated, for defending yourself in the event of a lawsuit and providing Pinterest with an attorney, should the person suing decide to come after them too!

Whoa!!! I didn't sign up for that. Well, OK, I did, but I didn't know I was signing up for that... and now my constitutional law professor Dr. Dougherty is in my head saying "ignorance of the law is no excuse". Actually, he'd probably say it in Latin. What to do?

I've had issues with people taking and reposting my pictures without permission for a while now. Just one picture with a link back to the source is no big deal, but what if it happens over and over again? What if it happens to the point that a google image search sends people who click on your picture to someone else's website because they have reposted your pictures and have become so popular that their website get's the credit for your picture? For the purpose of discussion, here is what I posted in Michele's combox:

I have defended Pinterest in the past by believing and professing that it was akin to a personalized Google image search meaning that all images linked back to original posts but just this week I discovered some of my pictures pinned that did not link back to my blog in any way. Now, I am not a professional photographer and I don’t ever expect compensation for my photographs but it has always bothered me when I find my photos being used on someone else’s website with or without credit when they didn’t bother to ask permission first. This problem has been around long before Pinterest though. It started with clearinghouse blogs and feature blogs whose main goal was to “feature” other ideas from across the internet. The purpose was to share links back and forth thereby driving traffic and being mutually beneficial to both sites but often times, the person being “featured” wasn’t asked if they wanted to be and the collection of beautiful pictures ended up benefitting only the featuring blog which grew it’s readership and it’s notoriety to the point of being able to sell advertising space all on the backs of the original ideas that others came up with, took the time to make or do with their families and took the time to take beautiful pictures of as a means of remembering that occasion and sharing them with their readers. I can think of one blog in particular that began this way although it seems now that the benefits have paid off in the way of advertising income, book deals, paid writing gigs and a general acclaim across the blogosphere about the wonders of this site. Perhaps that is the due reward for clever marketing. Nobody seems to care at all that the pictures that were posted in the early days of that blog were taken and used without permission even if “due credit” was given. Now, it never occurred to me that Pinterest was in the same vein, but I am starting to see how it is. There were many people who enjoyed having their ideas “featured” but there were also some who so saw so many of their ideas “featured” without permission that it started to feel like their blog and their pictures were no longer their own. I know I don’t appreciate someone building their readership on the backs of my pictures and family traditions but at the same time, I share them on my blog to give thanks for the goodness of God and to hopefully allow the Holy Spirit to work through me to inspire someone else. I don’t want to be selfish but the virtue of justice does let us claim what is our own and for me, my pictures are my memories. For a pro photographer, their pictures are their livelihood so I can see how this matters to them especially. Recipes can’t be copyrighted although substantial literary expression such as descriptions or explanations can be, also illustrations.

I admit... I don't know. Deleting my boards wouldn't be hard. I've used bookmark folders before and can use them again. Easy peasy. But my pictures are still being pinned out there. I don't mind but I don't like the fact that Pinterest claims rights to everything that gets pinned and someone else gave them those rights, not me, when they pinned something of mine. (OK, I did get a little weirded out when someone pinned a picture of my great Aunt Vivian's tombstone to a board called Favorite Places and Spaces but maybe there is a personal reason they find it comforting.) There is a code you can install that will block all pinning of your images but that's a rather drastic step for someone like me who really does love to share what we do here. But, I'm finding myself uncomfortable with pinning someone else's pictures right now because I have to ask myself, "Are they OK with this?"

And on another note, read this article about how businesses could get sued for using Pinterest to find out more. Also, this comment I found on an artist's forum has me curious too:

Did you know that if you have images on google when that image makes it to google images from Pintrest, your original image with the link back to your personal site gets dropped and only the Pintrest image will remain on google images?

So much for this tired brain to think about! On the one hand, I'm glad this has come to light. Maybe the Pinterest Predicament will make things clearer when it comes to copyrights. It's not selfish to claim what belongs to you. In fact, the virtue of justice demands it.

What are your thoughts? Please, I'd really like to know!


UPDATE: For those of you interested in a visual pin board kind of bookmarking system, someone recommended EverNote. I have never used them but they are private, not public, which is different than Pinterest.

 

31 comments:

  1. I'm still thinking about this issue. At first, (I had a friend who dropped Pinterest last week because of all of this) I thought, "What's the big deal? I like to send traffic to the blogs I like and I think it's pretty cool that I can "visually" bookmark what inspires me." Now that you are bringing it to my attention that the things I post may eventually NOT go back to the original source, that is a problem. I have always had good intentions when I post someone else's pictures. I like what they do, I want to remember where I found it, and I'd like to give them some traffic. I never read the terms...yes, I'm guilty, and yes, I've posted a few of my own things after I saw other bloggers doing it to. Actually, I figured, "Hey, I won't get sued because I've pinned some of my own stuff!" Ignorance! Therefore, I'm still not right about what I've done. I don't know, I have to take this to prayer, talk to my husband again, and I'll probably delete my account. I have a pretty organized bookmarking system. I could always go back to that. Sheesh, the social networking dilemma is very morally challenging. And, btw, if I've ever posted anything of yours (pic or link) and offended you, I'm sorry about that. Thanks for bringing another aspect of the Pinterest dilemma to my attention. I appreciate that.

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    1. You have never offended me! I have never taken issue with friends sharing something they have found inspirational here on their own blogs! I love that we can share so freely in this medium. I have had a minor problem with someone posting uncolored images of my coloring pages with my copyright removed, but that was taken care of. And I don't like it when someone uses my stuff as a means to turn a profit for themselves. That just irks me.

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    2. I just thought of another way to have that creative aspect that is Pinterest with a way of organizing/bookmarking for ideas, inspirations, how-to's, and projects. That would be by using EverNote. I have the app on my IPad after my husband heard about it on the radio. Now, the social aspect is not there. It's a tool for personal use. So there would be no networking. I know that's what a lot of people like. Personally, what I liked about Pinterest was that it was so new and not a lot of people were on it. Now I have a lot of lurkers from Facebook that are following my boards. That kinda bothers me. I like being a little more private, thus my happiness with blogging and Twitter. I don't follow a lot of people and a lot of people don't follow me. Have you ever tried EverNote?

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  2. I don't have a ton to say on this, but i do think that it's sad that this is even an issue. Its like a few bad eggs ruin the internet for everyone else. :-( I think of Pinterest as just pretty visual bookmark sharing. I hate that anyone actually gets hurt or treated unfairly because of it. I need to think on it.

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  3. I still don't get Pinterest. A few of my friends have tried to get me to join it, but I fail to see how it's better than me book marking the things I see online that interest me. I have all my book marks categorized by subject matter so I can easily reference them.

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    1. Really, it's just the eye catching visual aspect; That's it. It's pretty. Hey, I admit, I like pretty, but you are right... it's not the only way top do it. (I don't know if they jazz up the pictures that get pinned or what because I have yet to see an ugly picture on Pinterest.)

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  4. I didn't realize that the originator of the idea may not get credit. I thought that was the whole idea with pinterest in sharing ideas? Personally I don't use Pinterest and have my own form of bookmarking with folders so that I can give credit where credit is due. No doubt this circulating round will hurt pinterest. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I didn't realize that the originator of the idea may not get credit.

      That's just what I didn't realize either until I saw a couple of my own pictures linked to at their blogger storage address, not at my blog address. I'm sure it was done by mistake and I was able to leave a comment with the blog address but I had to track down all of the repins and do the same thing. And those were only brought to my attention accidentally. There is no way to search for unsourced images.

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  5. I am trying to understand this, so please help me. I always try my best to find the original source for a project to pin, unless they don't allow me to link a picture and I need that picture as a visual reference. I pinned your Colonial Brown Bread, using Waltzing Matilda as the reference. But your website links to Catholic Cuisine which links to another source. Is this wrong? I never pin anything I do because I'm not that creative but if I had a great idea I couldn't share it? Someone else would? I would never represent an idea as my own but how do you know the idea is from the original source? Am I understanding the issue or am I off base? I love sharing Catholic ideas via Pinterest because I think it is a great way to evangelize our faith and help other find good Catholic blogs for support.

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    1. I will try my best.

      OK... If you pinned my picture linking back to either here or Catholic Cuisine (because I posted it there, it says posted by Charlotte at the bottom of that post), then that's fine provided I am someone who allows things to be pinned and for now, I am. But if someone just pins the picture found here (which is a pretty picture, it's one of my favorites!) then there is no way for someone to find their way back to my blog to see who and what that picture belongs to. That's where the art is separated from the artist.

      Now, recipes cannot be copyrighted. That is, the list of ingredients cannot be copyrighted. As I said over at Michele's, substantial literary expression such as descriptions or explanations in a recipe can be, also any illustrations can be copyright protected by the artist. Which is why when I posted the Colonial Brown Bread recipe at Catholic Cuisine, I used my own words for explaining the process. Does that make sense?

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    2. Thank you. I think I get it. I always link to the blog, never to a picture. I don't find the picture particularly helpful when the directions are on the blog or website. I don't want to steal images, just borrow wonderful ideas. Sorry, your images are being stolen.

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    3. Really, it's not a huge deal. I am not a professional photographer and while I don't like the idea of someone turning a profit off the images I share freely, well, I can only pray that maybe that profit will help support a family or be used for a good cause. Even if someone does "steal them", they can't steal my memories.

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  6. If people want to continue on Pinterest but be sure the person doesn't mind being "pinned", just limit your pinning to those blogs that have installed a pin it button on their posts. Those that have it obviously are okay with their content being pinned. I think this ongoing discussion is good for Pinterest and those who use it and am hopeful that terms of use will be improved.

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    1. Nicole,
      The problem is that some websites, like Etsy, installed the "Pin It" button and it can't be disabled by the shop owners. I don't think blogging platforms have done that yet, but it means that in some cases, the "Pin It" button is not always approval granted by the author.

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    2. And then there is always the issue of the in perpetua ownership claimed by Pinterest:

      By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

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  7. Yikes. I've been thinking about this recently, too. I was hesitant to join Pinterest at first but then gave in. I don't use it that often but was hoping to use it in lieu of my favorites bar and like seeing other ideas.

    There's always been something that seems 'off' to me, though, and I think this must be a part of it. I've several times now seen a pin copy of a popular pin. Like one person pinned the popular pin then posted pics on their blog showing it done (sort of like the "pinning it down" link up that I've done) but someone ELSE pins the new picture. The credit for the original idea gets filtered down, if not lost. I've thought in the past it would be neat to have someone pin one of my ideas, but now I'm glad that I'm not that inspiring ;)

    I've wished from the beginning that Pinterest was private and that you could choose who sees what you pin. Perhaps that would go a long way it preventing these problems. I'll be keeping my eye out for more info on these issues!! I'll have to look into that eversave...

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  8. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance! HeatherVonsj(at)gmail(dot)com

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  9. Upon my husband's request I didn't join up on the Pinterest craze. Now I'm kind of glad. This sounds all too confusing for my little head to handle. The availablity given by so many social networks (be it facebook, blogs or Pinterest) serve as great venues to share. But, so much of it has been complicated by the very issues you wrote about. I don't know, it's a bit too crazy for me and too time consuming.
    I love seeing projects and ideas in pictures. It helps me to see it visually completed but, I don't think it's okay for the orginal site to be neglected from credit. Very sad.

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  10. I did read the Pinterest site recently about pinning your own images. I thought it stated something along the lines of "not pinning for your own self- promotion". I would still think a blogger could share a great idea they post to share with a wider audience or even to make note of the idea for themselves. I rarely pin my own posts, but when I forgot a feast day idea that I had used for the Immaculate Conception, I "pinned" that post to help me remember next year. I do follow a lady who pins almost all of her own posts- I am pretty sure that is "self-promotion".

    It is sad that people fail to link their pins properly. I don't know what the purpose for that would be. Not only do I want to share a great source with other pinners, I want to be able to access the original source of my pins. I wonder if it is not more often an oversight than anything else. Also- I try to never use a picture with that has pictures of someone's children or family. If I can't find an image that doesn't have that, I don't pin the idea. I just think is weird to share pics of other people.

    I have pinned a second source before- someone who used a "pin" to make something and shared. Mostly that was because I liked the way that person made the project more than the original. The link to the original source was in the blog post though or I would have pinned the original source too.

    I have to admit that this is all a little confusing. I have so enjoyed this method of keeping track of bookmarks, and of gleaning from what others find useful through their own searches (it is like getting to look through everyone's bookmarks!), it makes me sad that it has to be this complicated. And it also makes me sad that no matter how wonderful a tool is, someone is always going to misuse it.

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  11. The part that bothers me the most and I was not aware of (shame on me) was the part in the agreement that say "everything you pin is something you own rights to or have the right to pin and that in the event of a lawsuit (think Napster) YOU are liable for the copyrights you violated, for defending yourself in the event of a lawsuit and providing Pinterest with an attorney, should the person suing decide to come after them too!"

    That is absolutely insane. Are we supposed to email the blog or site admin for approval every time we want to pin something? I have been a total Pinterest devotee, but I'll drop it like a hot potato if I have to. Ugh! There is just no way I can go back through all my (very useful) pins and confirm that pinning is okay with them.

    Gosh, I don't know what to do!

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    1. I know, Dwija. My head hurts right now, but that's also due to our pollen count. Technically, yes. When you agree to their terms you are saying that “you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms" (From Pinterest’s Terms of Use) So that means that you either own the rights or you have proof that rights have been granted to you. That reads to me that you asked permission and can prove that you got it. Now, some people have said, "If there is a Pin It button, then that counts as permission." but like I was telling Nicole above, some sites, like Etsy, installed the button and the shop owner cannot disable it. I don't know if any blogging platforms have done the same thing. Just because there is a button, doesn't mean the owner is giving permission. So then... what do you do?

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  12. *blink*

    My daughter-in-law sent an invitation to me. I signed up, looked a bit but haven't been back. I haven't pinned or re-pinned or anything. Now I'm really glad! I know you're not stingy with your images and such, but you do deserve credit for them. It would burn my biscuits to have my stuff pinned without credit or acknowledgement.

    Someone needs to make a "No Pinning" badge for blogs and such!

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    1. There is a code you add to your block which blacks the pinning feature but I don't know what that does for things that are already pinned.

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    2. You can have them remove any of your images. Here's how: http://pinterest.com/about/copyright/
      But, like you said above, there's no way to search for unsourced images.

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  13. Great post, Charlotte! I agree with everything you have said, and I also don't know what to do from here. I have sick little ones today, and am not thinking very clearly at the moment, but I will be stopping back by to follow the discussion, and see what everyone else has to say. I really hope that Pinterest can come up with some solutions!

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  14. I'm taking my pins down too. I made up a graphic that I pinned to my (now empty) boards to alert others.

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  15. I understand what you mean when you talked about having your photos used by other people without permission. I found one of my pictures, completely by chance, on a "feature" blog before and just felt very weird... the blog said I could email them and ask to have my images removed, but first I'd have to know that my images were even there! So I wish they would have asked permission, because then I'd probably have said sure, no problem... it's finding out after the fact that is almost creepy somehow, like they're stalking you almost???

    I don't totally get pinterest - I use it to bookmark recipes and resources I want to find later and don't know anything about following people or them following me. I guess if it was just a personal board that only I could see, and I couldn't just search through other people's boards, then that would remove the issue of sharing things that aren't your own. And that's all I care about, having an easy bookmarking system that's visual. But it seems completely contradictory for pinterest to say "only pin what you own the rights to/have permission to pin," yet they discourage you from pinning your own stuff because that's "self-promotion." ?? So is the point to keep track of and share things you find, or to keep track of and share what you already have the rights to? Very confusing.

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    1. I like first sourcing of images. What you need to do to protect your right for permission is to decide to copyright your images or put them under creative commons license. Then if you do have your images used in another's digital publishing you have a recourse to asking for permission first. Here is the link to obtain creative commons licensure:http://creativecommons.org/. And for copyright information go here.
      http://www.loc.gov/teachers/copyrightmystery/

      Remember, you won't be able to control everyone's use of your images, but this does send a clear message that you want credit or permission. Be safe!

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  16. I think the best solution for our own pictures is to mark them with a copy right and or web address right on the picture. That way if the link is missing on Pintrest the reader still knows where it came from. I guess it also depends on the persons motivation for sharing but I believe God will provide no matter what and the more giving we are with our items then the more He will reward us. One of the problems with capitalism (which is the bases of this copyright issue) is that with some it turns into greed.Personally I don't see an issue with Pintrest, as someone mentioned its just a visual bookmarking system.

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  17. I guess I never really thought about it either. If i click on a pin that doesn't go anywhere I find it, then re-pin it from the original source. I never thought I was stealing someone's work. If they have a re-pin button then I feel like they are giving you permission to pin it. I checked several of the ones that I like and they do allow that.
    It would really make me sad to have to delete my boards, but I don't want to rip someone's idea off either. If I do try it and I mention it on my board then I give all the credit where it is due.

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  18. I didn't realize how complicated this could be. I like Pinterest because I like organizations and lists--I've basically been doing similar things on paper and in Word documents for years. This is just so convient. I also love to promote products or people that I think are awesome. I thought Pinterest would be a way to share my favorite small businesses and blogger with amazing ideas like you, Jessica, and Lacy. I have been double checking that the photo links back to the original site before repinning. I guess I will have to think of how to handle this. A more closed system would be great. I don't need strangers following me. But, it is also good to remember to tag photos with some sort of credit to make sure future pins will still be able to find the original. Ugh, I thought when I signed up that it said Pinterest handled the link back and credits. Back to the drawing board.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!