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.