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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

To Pinterest or Not to Pinterest?

When I discovered Pinterest, I was excited.  Pinterest's virtual bulletin boards offered me a neat way to organize pictures I stumbled upon while doing period research for my novels, and network at the same time.  It's a brilliant idea, and quickly becoming Facebook's rival in attracting social media traffic.

But last week, I read an article that scared me away from Pinterest.  In the article, a photographer/lawyer voices her concerns over Pinterest's possible copyright infringement, the frustration of artists who feel their copyrights are being violated, and how Pinterest is shifting any legal issues onto the Pinterest users.  You can read the article here.

Now, I don't know much about the "fair use" clause in copyright laws, so I don't know what to make of claims that Pinterest is violating an artist's copyright by using the full size and resolution of a photograph.  And of course Pinterest is going to protect themselves from lawsuits. 

This is what bothered me:


"You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, 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 Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Col Brew Labs' use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party's patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation."

By agreeing to Pinterest's terms of use, you are claiming that you have full permission or license to pin, repin or upload every photo on your pinboards, and you are accepting full responsibility for any misuse of them. (So it doesn't really matter if you're careful to credit the artist and link back to their website. If you don't have a license to use that photo, you're leaving yourself wide open to attack.)

All those beautiful photos on Pinterest -- I doubt those who pinned  and repinned them took the time to contact the artist for permission.  And you're right, there are thousands -- maybe millions -- of Pinterest users.  The chances are slim to none that you'll cross an artist who's mad at the world and eager to sue.  Still.  As a poor writer using Pinterest to organize research pics found both inside and outside of Pinterest, I was uncomfortable with the risk and unwilling to spend time contacting each artist.  So I, too, deleted all of my pinboards (after recording the URLs of the pics I wanted to use in my research. ;-) 

I'm not trying to persuade you to delete your pinboards too.  I simply felt that I needed to present my understanding of the risk.  I'm hoping that Pinterest and artists will come up with a system that will make it easy to know what is and isn't okay to pin without having to go through the trouble of contacting each artist.  But in the meantime, I have one less temptation to waste time when I should be writing.

15 comments:

Sandy Keith said...

I did a search as your last blog suggested and found one of my photos pinned on Pinterest without my knowledge. It came from a blog that is copyrighted, both text and photos, so the pinner is quite outside the law should I wish to pursue. Anything that bears a copyright symbol or statement CANNOT be used at will by another. The artist has all the law on his/her side.

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Yikes, Sandy. People need to be careful. Copyrights are there for a reason. And I'm slapping my own hand because I should have read Pinterest's Terms of Use more carefully before I signed on. Pinterest should be used like a blog -- you don't post pictures without an artist's permission, unless its marked as free to use or share.

Michelle Griep said...

My finger is hovering above my delete button. Fear is a powerful motivator. I'm not convinced, though, that it's really that big of a danger. It's not like Pinterest is a new site. I think I need a little more info before I go trashing all my boards.

But you're sure right about one thing...now you won't have that temptation in your life and you can spend more time writing!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hey Michelle, let me know if you find anything that might change my mind. I like Pinterest, but with all the questions hanging in the air about it, I knew it would be more a source of torment than fun for me.

Michelle Griep said...

Will do, good buddy.

Loree Huebner said...

I haven't joined Pinterest. I just haven't had the time. I am hearing a lot of what you're saying, and I think I will just wait it out.

It just seems like another way to gather data on what you like, hobbies, interests...and so on. FB has been gathering our info for years now. The real deal is that it's all about the marketing and selling to us.

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Loree! I can so relate to lack of time -- it's why I'm still convincing myself that I've done the right thing, lol! True, about Facebook, and you're right, the real deal is that it's all about marketing :-)

Susan said...

I too deleted many of my boards.(saw the same article on loop) I've kept recipes b/c those all link to sights they've been shared and I have to use their sites to use the recipe--so they should be happy about that!:) And I figured I didn't need on more place to distract me too, you're definitely right about that!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Susan! Those recipes do look awesome. I doubt that recipes would be a source of copyright grief to an artist, and it may fall under "fair use". But do be careful. :-)

Jessica R. Patch said...

I have Pinterest, but I rarely pin. What I pinned, like recipes come from sites that give you the opportunity to print or even share, so I'm thinking I'm safe.

Also I post youtubes and books which give you the same options. I hope that's okay! Truth is, I rarely use it because I don't have time to spend on the net like that. Unless I'm researching for a book, which is why I signed up in the first place. And I haven't been researching much.

ACK! What to do!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Jessica, yeah, I'm thinking like you -- recipes, books and youtube are probably within the "fair use" category. Many people have argued that all pictures (without copyright) are "fair use" as long as your pinning for personal interest. I'm not sure about that, but then I really don't understand what qualifies as "fair use".

Rissi said...

Since I am not interested in getting caught up in Facebook, I don't have a Pinterest account but a LOT of the girls whose blogs I frequent use it.

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi Rissi! It's better not to get caught up in Facebook or Pinterest. They take up so much of your time! Yeah, you may want to tell your friends to be careful. I wasn't aware of what Pinterest's Terms of Use said, and they may not be either.

Ivy and Elephants said...

I just had to stop by when I saw Gage as your last name, it is mine,too. (by marriage) Your blog is very intriguing, christian romance novels...sounds like a great way to go.
I'm a new follower and invite you round to check us out, too.
Patti

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Hi I&E! That's so cool! Mine is also by marriage -- people always thing that "Gwendolyn Gage" is a pen name because they both start with "G", but its not. I was born a "Gwendolyn" and married a "Gage". :-) Thanks for following!

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