A few days ago, I read an interesting post by Darren Rowse from problogger. About what he had been doing with Pinterest.
It was called “Learnings from my Pinterest experiment”
As you probably know, Pinterest has grown dramatically over the last couple of years and is a substantial traffic driver for many bloggers.
So I spent an evening playing around with Pinterest. And to my surprise, I really enjoyed myself.
What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is a community of ‘pinboards’. You can have as many pinboards as you want, and you pin images on to your board in a number of different ways.
You can capture images from websites, which then gives the website owner a nice backlink.
You can upload your own images from your computer.
And you can ‘repin’ images already pinned by others.
A visual medium
One of the reasons I really prefer Facebook to Twitter is that it is a much more visual medium. From my own experience of a Facebook Page. I also know that people are much more interested in the larger images posted, than in text, thumbnail, or weblinks.
My main blog is The Labrador Site. And a site about dogs, just lends itself to an image based medium.
I had joined Pinterest a while ago after reading a different article, and then not taken it any further. Reading Darren’s article gave me the impetus I needed to have a go. Bear in mind that if you are joining Pinterest for the first time, you have to wait a day or so to be approved.
Once you have been accepted you can start creating boards. I made four to start with.
- Labrador puppies
- Beautiful dogs
- Fun toys for Labradors
- Labrador training
Once the boards are up, you can start pinning straight away. And it is a lot of fun, especially for anyone that enjoys photography, design, or whose work or hobby involves a very visual medium
What are you doing?
Whilst I was playing around with my boards, himself peered over my shoulder.
“What are you doing?”
It is called Pinterest I said, waving him away dismissively like you do when the person enquiring has only just mastered the art of switching on a computer
“Who took those photos” he asked?
“All sorts of people, I explained patiently,
” you get them from websites and add them to your virtual pinboards” I add, returning pointedly to my game
“But what about copyright?” he persisted.
“No, no, its fine” I explained with some irritation. “Everyone is doing it, the photographers and websites get backlinks so they are happy”.
And off he went, presumably satisfied with my answer.
But damn it! He had pricked my conscience.
What if the photographer wasn’t happy? How would I know?
I have already been the victim of plagiarism and it is a horrible feeling. I loathe people stealing my work. How is this different?
I started to google Pinterest and copyright, and came across an interesting article by photographer and Pinterest fan Kirsten Kowalski, who also happens to be a lawyer.
Kirsten’s take on the subject is very thought provoking, as are the many comments below the article. If you are thinking of joining Pinterest, I recommend you read it first. She draws some comparisons between Pinterest and the case of Napster where many ordinary citizens were eventually sued by music companies and artists.
She sums up the issue thus:
After all, Pinterest’s own terms currently prohibit you from using the site for its intended purpose. The first rule of use is don’t pin anything that you don’t own or that you don’t have “all rights” or license to use. This flies in the face of the purpose of the site, which is to pin from all over the web and contradicts its first rule of etiquette which is to not self promote. Understandably, people are confused.
It is a very interesting topic, and the comments on the article make interesting reading too. There are good points on both sides.
The owners of Pinterest must have been very concerned by the negative publicity Kirsten’s article generated, and it would seem are keen to work a way around the copyright problem. You can read about Kirsten’s meeting and conversation wth Ben Silbermann here .
New Terms and Conditions
Soon after Kirsten’s articles were published Pinterest revised their terms and conditions. But, the risk to those pinning images that they do not have permission to use still remains.
Pinterest values and respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree that any User Content that you post to the Service does not and will not violate any law or infringe the rights of any third party
They also say:
It is important that you understand that you are in the best position to know if the materials you post are legally allowed. We therefore ask that you please be careful when deciding whether to make User Content available on our Service, including whether you can pin or re-pin User Content on your boards.
Social Media Today posted a helpful article on this topic in March. I have to say, I don’t find the new T& C at all reassuring. But perhaps I am worrying over nothing…
I think I am going to wait a while before putting much more effort into ‘pinning’. I don’t feel comfortable with ‘pinning’ images without the owner’s permission. And Pinterest discourages board owners from pinning only their own work.
I have removed the pins that I had repinned onto my board from other people’s boards or taken off websites without permission of the owner, apart from one from a rescue society which I am confident will want the publicity.
I am not sure where to go from here. How about you?
Are you on Pinterest?
Have you tried Pinterest yet? Are you worried about copyright? I would love to know what you think.