March 2, 2012 | Alyson Stanfield

Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem?

Just as guest blogger Beth Hayden and I were going to press with the Pinterest post on Monday, the s**t hit the fan.
This blogger and that blogger have been raising legitimate concerns about Pinterest’s Terms of Service and copyright infringement.
There is enough worry out there that I felt it necessary to follow up.

Note: This is not intended to scare anyone away from using Pinterest. I just want to make sure you hear the concerns about using  Pinterest along with the rosy side we gave you earlier. I don't consider the case closed with this post. We're still beginning to understand the situation and will watch how Pinterest evolves.

Read the Terms of Service (TOS)

We're all guilty of agreeing to stuff without reading it, but you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into before signing on to Pinterest or any other site. Or, if it's too late, to understand what you're involved with.
I recall not too long ago that artists were up in arms about Facebook’s TOS – giving Facebook “ownership” of the images. Facebook tweaked their terms and addressed some concerns, but we kept on using Facebook and uploading images. We got past it. Hundreds of millions of images are now shared on Facebook.
Pinterest’s terms seem a little more egregious as they include the word sell. No one sees that they’re going to sell prints of images from their site in the near future, but the inclusion of this word is giving of a lot of people second thoughts about using Pinterest.
The other red flag in the TOS is that you, the pinner, are ultimately held liable for pinning any images that you don't have permission to share or that aren't copyright-free. This is scaring a lot of people. Heck, it scares me! I don't want to pin anyone who doesn't want to be pinned. Read this PC World article for a more detailed analysis.
Kirsten Kowalski, a lawyer and photographer, outlines her assessment of the legal language Pinterest uses and shares why she “tearfully” deleted all of her boards. UPDATE on March 3: You must read her follow-up to this post after the founder of Pinterest, Ben Silverman, called her to discuss how they might address her concerns.

Protect Your Images While Still Allowing Them to Be Seen and Shared

I'm a firm believer that legitimate sharing of images with due credit and proper linking is good for most artists. (Licensing artists are one exception.) You want  people to love your work enough to share it with others. That's one reason you post your work online.
The problem with Pinterest (besides the TOS listed above) is that people are pinning images from non-original sources: admirers' Facebook pages, Google images, third-party articles and blog posts, etc. When this happens, there is often no credit to the artist or link to the artist's site. If the original source (the artist's site) isn't pinned, the artist (the originator) is left out and the image is just another pretty picture on Pinterest.
Note to Pinterest pinners: Please pin from original source sites only and credit the artist in every description.
Don’t bother with adding metadata to your images or making fancy file names just for Pinterest. Pinterest, like Facebook, Flickr and other sites, strips out the metadata when the images are on their site. Incidentally, from what I have read, Google+ does not strip metadata from image uploads.
Read the Artist Bill of Rights account of how they confirmed this practice and why you should care.
This is a big concern for many people, but, as I said, these other sites have been doing it long before Pinterest became the darling of the social media scene. We moved past their transgressions.
Consider these four ways to protect your images.
1. Keep your images at a low resolution (72 ppi) and small-ish size.
I don’t mean thumbnails only. I just mean don’t put an image of your art online that is 2000 pixels wide. If you upload an image 2000 pixels wide, it stays that large on your server – even after you resize it in a blog or website editor.
A large image online (large enough) is probably 400-600 pixels in any direction. If you don’t know how to resize your images before you upload them, you need to learn how to do this pronto! The larger the image size = the slower the loading time = less search engines love for your site.
2. Always always always provide a credit line for your images wherever you share them online.
I’ve been on my soapbox for years about this and many of my artist-readers still aren’t doing this.
Adding your name, copyright info, and details below each image reminds people that they don’t own the rights to use that image.
This means each image should have a credit line like this underneath it and clearly visible:

©2012 Alyson Stanfield, Title of Artwork, medium, size.

Yeah, your name might be at the top of your page, but scroll down a bit. Is your name still visible?
Your name should always be with a © notice, as should a date if you want to be recognized for making the piece at a certain point in time. This is helpful when you’re trying to claim a creation date ahead of someone else.
Add this data in a description on Facebook with each image you share on that site.
There is no excuse for neglecting this step. Doing so is sloppy copyright management. If you want to be given credit for your work by others, you have to give yourself credit first.
3. Watermark your images, which would mean that your © notice would be present on the image wherever it’s used on the Web.
I’m still trying to decide how I feel about watermarking. I’ve always been against it (see pages 80 and 104 of I’d Rather Be in the Studio). But if you’re going to do it, I suggest watermarking (stamping is probably a better word) the lower edge with a © notice and your name. Alternatively, you could use a website URL or all three: the URL, your ©, and your name.

Daniel Sroka, Twig
Daniel Sroka's Untitled Twig #217. Notice how he uses his stop in the lower right corner of his images. It's classy and unobtrusive. ©The Artist

If you’re hyper concerned about people on Pinterest “stealing” your images  . . .
4. Refuse to allow pinning on your site.
Even if you don’t become a Pinterest user, people are still able to pin your images for their boards – unless you disallow this option. I'd hate to see artists do this because I believe a lot of good can come out of people sharing your images from their original source. I'd rather them pin your art from your site than from someone else's site that doesn't link back to you.
If you must . . .
Pinterest has created a “No Pin” code that blocks people from pinning images from your site. It looks like this:

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />

When someone tries to pin an image, they will get this message:
“This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”
This puts the onus on you to opt out rather than to opt in. People aren’t happy about this burden on the originator, but that’s the way it is right now.
If these don't scare you away from using Pinterest or sharing your images, and I'm not saying they should, . . .

Jump In and Love the Free-Sharing on the Web

If you just want to be happy that people are sharing your images, you’re not alone. Many artists have embraced this.
Successful travel photographer Trey Ratcliff opines Why Photographers Should Stop Complaining About Copyright and Embrace Pinterest (Note that Pinterest accounts for 15% of his site traffic!)
Jim Goldstein asks photographers to “look beyond their noses” when it comes to Pinterest. He says, “For me Pinterest is not the threat,  not having my work seen or found is the real threat.

So . . .

Where do you stand on Pinterest? Are you a pinner?
Do you believe there's a Pinterest problem? Are you going to add the “No Pin” code to your site? Are you watermarking your images?
Or . . . Is the Pinterest “problem” not a problem at all? Are you a free-sharer?
As I said above, this is only the beginning of the dialogue.

122 comments add a comment
  • Kirsty Hall

    I think that Pinterest should definitely address the concerns about some of its TOS. In particular, I’d like to see them drop the dubious one about legal costs.
    However, I’m pro-pinning. I use Pinterest a lot and I’m more than happy for my work to be on there. What I did this morning was search the site for images pinned from my site & I went and THANKED everyone for pinning my work. This has two advantages, firstly it’s always polite and smart to thank fans of your work. Secondly, if the work has not been attributed to me then by saying ‘hey, thanks for pinning my work’ in a permanent comment, I’ve just visibly claimed it as my own.
    I also added a Pinterest section to the copyright notice on both of my websites because I don’t want to get emails from people asking me if it’s OK to pin stuff.
    I understand people wanting to protect their copyright but I often feel irritated by the attitude many artists have on this issue. The internet started off with a strong culture of sharing and it bothers me when people come in and try to undermine that. It feels a bit selfish to me – ‘I want to use the internet to promote my work but I’m going to whine when the internet does that in its own way’. I think it’s a bit of a culture clash.
    Of course, it’s always very important to protect your work but for most artists, I think their real internet problem is not ‘stealing’ but ‘total obscurity’. But I’m aware that I have a far higher tolerance for internet sharing than many artists: it genuinely doesn’t bother me when people share my work unless they don’t attribute it and even that doesn’t worry me all that much.

    • Kirsty: Everyone should read your Pinterest section under your Copyright Info, which is clearly visible on your site. http://kirstyhall.co.uk/blog/ If you don’t mind me posting here >
      Copyright Info
      I retain full copyright on my writing and all photographs of my art. However, you may use my words and photos on your blog without asking for permission, as long as the following conditions apply:
      1) The work is attributed to me
      2) You link to this site
      3) It’s not a commercial use
      4) You don’t use the whole post
      I am Pinterest friendly and there’s no need to ask my permission to pin one of my images. However, please note that not every image on this site belongs to me; some images have been used under the ‘fair use’ provision for critique purposes or were found on Flickr under the Creative Commons license. Those images are not mine, so I cannot give you permission to use them.
      If you want to republish an entire post on your blog or you’d like to use my work in a commercial project, please ask.
      I’ve also made a selection of my photographs available for you to use under a Creative Commons license.

      • Glad it was useful, Alyson. Boy, it’s hard to keep up with the implications of all this stuff, isn’t it. It all changes so fast.
        The reason I put in the bit about work on my website not always being mine is that when I looked on Pinterest for images from my site, I found a few images that belonged to other people. Those were images that I had legitimately used within posts discussing those artists’ work. As I understand it (and I’m not a copyright lawyer!) that is permissible under the ‘fair use’ doctrine but because hot-linking & stealing bandwidth is bad, I always download those images & host them on my own server.
        Incidentally, I have occasionally wondered how Pinterest deals with the hot-linking issue.

  • I’m from the “School of Abundance”, although I wasn’t always that way.
    As an artist, in the past twenty-three years I’ve had my images stolen, copied, manipulated and reproduced. I haven’t seen a dime of recompense from the pursuit of the culprits, but I have had letters of apology from those who were guilty when they realized what they did. Our copyright laws are complex and it cost me more in legal fees to pursue the issues than it did to let it go.
    When I examine why I am an artist, I revel in the process and receive the most enjoyment as a human being out of creating the works. I support my family from the proceeds of this “serious play” and I am pleased to share my work, articulate the intent and educate my audience about the art. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, love in our hearts and food on the table. What more could a human being ask for?
    I like being a graduate of the School of Abundance, and not one of the School of Fear. Pin on. Educate.

  • Abigail

    Thank you for posting! I am a new Pinterest user and didn’t realize that sharing images in this way would be a problem until someone posted an article this week on facebook. It brought up excellent points on infringement. Am I being hypocritical by posting work by others, yet I’m careful about sharing too much of my own work online? If okay with you, I’d like to share your blog entry on my facebook page because I’ve wanted to hear more feedback from artists and friends on this issue. I’ve pressed pause on my Pinterest use until I gain a better understanding all the way around. Please let me know. Thanks!

  • Andrew Borloz

    Until the modifications are made to the terms of use, I have stopped pinning and refrained from excessive re-pinning. I also have deleted most of my boards, closed down my blogs, and will need to make the time to review & insert the codes in my blog to track or control the pinning activities. Based on the on-line article that I read yesterday (http://ddkportraits.com/2012/02/my-date-with-ben-silbermann-following-up-and-drying-my-tears/), I have decided to adopt the “wait & see” stance and see what they’re going to do in the future to resolve the issues.

  • This is a very good article to read as well.

  • I’m with Andrew – I’m in a wait and see mode. I love Pinterest, but after carefully reading through the TOS again, a discussion on LinkedIn, and reading the two posts on DDK Portraits, I decided to go ahead and remove my account until things level out.
    I have no problem with my work being pinned or re-pinned – it has more to do with the liability I’m putting myself in if I pin a work from someone else. It sounds like Pinterest is working to try and solve this issue, but the fact of the matter is, even if I credit the source, and pin from the source site, it’s still not cut and dry whether or not that will fall under “fair use”. I’m currently leaning towards the side that says I just violated another artist’s copyright. I had a problem with that, and I certainly don’t want to ask permission every single time I want to pin something – to me that defeats the purpose of a site like Pinterest.

  • Sue Allemand

    Great article Alyson! Thanks for the calm and logical approach to this! I’ve been telling people to protect their images…and not a lot of people listen! I love Pinterest and won’t be deleting my boards…just making sure its a direct link when it comes to art and photography especially! It’s such a great marketing tool!

  • I am with Kirsty on this. I love Pinterest and started using a while ago. My future daughter in-law got me into it when she showed me all their wedding ideas pinned into different boards. I fell in love with it right away. I am a visual person and this was candy to my eyes. I will not stop using it…but I will make sure to put a small watermark on my paintings even though I do not like doing that….but a small one might not get in the way. I do allow pinning from my website. In fact I installed the “pin it” button.
    I might follow Kirsty’s idea and add a copyright statement about Pinterest both on my website and my Etsy Stores. (So, thank you Kirsty!)
    When I pin myself, I make sure that it comes from a blog or website. I will not pin images from google search or the like. I might have at the beginning because I did not know what I was doing.
    I Love the internet, I Love sharing my work….I know what risks I am facing…but I can’t be worrying about it. It is what it is.
    I think that a lot of these issues get a bit blown out of proportion. If you are so fearful of all these ramifications, then don’t have a website, a blog, facebook…etc.
    Happy weekend Alyson and all!

    • Dora: Yes, we’re all fearful of new technology when it comes along. I think this has reached a boiling point because it’s visual – which affects so many artists.
      I appreciate your willingness to share your work openly. I think you will benefit from that in the long run.

  • Hmm…. not sure which side of the fence I need to land on. I do not want someone using a photo of my art to cut up and use in their art. But I’ve been putting it on Facebook for several years. duh… I love the idea of a new audience (pinterest) seeing my work. Ok, I’m going to water mark (now adding ©) each photo, and try to get my blog address to fit in also. Plus use a low resolution. And no longer pinning any photos that don’t have the artist listed. For artists that I recognize their art, but no name, I add their name.
    Thanks much for this article.

    • PJ: Just be sure to put that watermark in a corner and not across the image.

      • Alyson, why not put it across the image if I fade it? I’m having a lot of hits on my blog from China. I’ve been told they don’t honor copyright laws. I know a good tech can take off the watermark, but I like the idea of making it more work for them. If they can just crop my watermark off, it makes it very easy to copy. I use the low res also. All of this makes my head spin. LOL

        • PJ: Because you might as well not post your images online at all. A watermark across the image completely ruins the appreciation of your work.
          Can you imagine going into a gallery or museum and having giant strips of paper with copyright info across the art to prevent people with cameras from “stealing” images? It negates the experience you could have of sharing your art with the world.
          I will always be against © watermarks across the center of images – EXCEPT in cases of licensing artists and stock photographers.

  • I find Tumblr FAR more annoying in terms of orphaned works & lack of attribution. It’s rare that I can’t find the original creator from Pinterest but incredibly common on Tumblr. I’ve given up even trying to find artists from Tumblr sites because it takes too long. One day I’ll google how to find the original source of an image, I know there’s a way to do it.
    I do hope that Pinterest clears up these concerns over their TOS though. There are genuine issues here & they do need to be addressed. Pinterest is a great tool for me & I’ve definitely found items there that I intend to buy. Just last night I discovered an artist whose work has gone on my ‘art I must own’ list.

    • Kirsty: Interesting that you mentioned Tumblr. I have a guest post in the queue that I’m putting on hold for these very reasons.

      • Kirsty Hall

        I think Tumblr has a HUGE problem with orphaned images, Alyson. On Pinterest if you click on the image twice, you’ll almost always be taken to the source blog or website. However, you could click links on Tumblr over and over and never find the original source (unless I’m doing something wrong but I don’t think I am).
        Even if there is originally attribution, it seems to very easily get stripped out on Tumblr. Whereas on Pinterest, if there’s no attribution, I think that it’s usually because the original pinner hasn’t added any. And Pinterest does encourage people to attribute sources and cite the creator.

        • When I first started looking into Pinterest, and tried to figure out where in the process images could “lose their link” to the original site, I googled “Pinterest no attribution”. I was surprised at all of the links that came up on Pinterest, and most of them were from pinning images from Tumblr.

  • Jacqueline Webster

    OK. For me it comes down to one thing: respect. I read an article recently in the current issue of American Craft where they quoted a survey about the American public’s feeling towards art and artists. While something like 80% of people had rsepect for the arts in general, only 27% of people had respect for artists. If we want to be respected we have to act like we deserve it, and part of that is setting boundaries and enforcing them. One of my boundaries is that people ask for my permission to use my work before they do actually it, just as a simple common courtesy if nothing else. Pinterest not only undermines this, it encourages a lack of respect for the artist by allowing repinning from within its own site without a trackback to the original artist’s page. I hate to chase people away from my work, but I will be adding the “no-pin” code to my site today, plus adding a PInterest policy to the top of my full-page images.

    • Jackie: I wonder why you need a Pinterest policy if you insert the No Pin code?
      What issue of American Craft was that? I’d love to read that article.

      • Jacqueline Webster

        I’m thinking more of a sharing policy, something that basically says please ask first.
        It’s the current issue of American Craft, February/March 2012, the one about the start of art glass in the US. I forget which article – maybe the one about United States Artists? The study quoted (I took notes!) is called Investing in Creativity, done in 2003 by the Urban Institute. And looking over my notes now apparently 96% value the arts, 27% value artists. Totally scary.

  • Don’t see the problem. Everything is about sharing these days

    • I agree Erik. I think people freak out way too much about problems that have a minute chance of ever occurring. If we worry that much about everything, we can’t leave our houses!

  • I deleted my Pinterest account, NOT because I’m worried about people pinning my images (please! Pin away!), but because I don’t want to be held liable. Also, and this was the real decision maker, I found Pinterest to be a huge distraction that I really don’t need in my life right now. I think it’s so important to hone in on a couple of social networking sites and not immediately jump on every bandwagon. I’m working hard on facebook, twitter, and flickr right now, as well as my own website, my blog, etsy… There may be a time when I will come back to Pinterest, but I’m going to let it mature a little first, and make sure it’s a place I really want to spend my time.

  • When someone pins or repins one of my works, I am delighted. Photographers and printmakers, I can understand, might need to be more circumspect in handling Pinterest; I love the attention! I also love pinning work done by artist friends and heroes – with full credit and link to their info.

  • I have not tried to obtain a Pinterest account mostly because I don’t have time for it. I don’t mind if people Pin my work – who knows, it might bring a sale down the line. Like Lea, however, I don’t like that if someone decides to sue Pinterest, the pinner has to also pay for the lawyer to defend Pinterest. I also don’t like that Pinterest can sell the images pinned.
    Why anyone would upload large, high resolution images is beyond me, given that most monitors can’t resolve them anyway. It wastes the bandwidth.

    • Patricia: I’m glad you’ve set this boundary for yourself! (the “No Pinterest because I don’t have time” boundary)
      People upload large image files usually because they don’t know how to make them smaller and they think the size on the screen is the file of the image size. This is the problem with people doing their own sites who don’t understand how websites work.

  • Kat

    I’m not a member of Pinterest and have had no intention of joining the site. I admit to occasionally dropping in to browse, but it’s purpose was to see if any of my images show up there. I would be highly offended if they did. Recently, I started tagging my photos. They are no great work of art. My art is. Not being computer-literate, I haven’t posted the “No Pin’ tag because I haven’t figured out how to do it, and my time is better spent in my art. Some sites, like the government, are becoming way too overbearing and grabby, and want to control everything you do- and produce.
    Just saying…

    • Kat: Why would you be offended if someone liked your art enough to share it?
      Or do you mean you’d just be mad that it was shared without your permission?
      How are you “tagging” your images? You mean on your website? That doesn’t help with sites like Pinterest, which strips metadata from images. (as I mention above)

  • I create work to share it with the world and maybe brighten someone’s day. My career isn’t awesome enough for me to say that I’m losing money from someone pinning me without credit. Come on. My images are always so low-res (online) that no-one could print it and get any type of decent looking print anyway.
    I know a super-successful artist in NYC who was sad that people would steal his low-res images and print them… so he provided them high-res images so they could enjoy his work without it looking bad! For him, the fact that people are able to enjoy his creation is more important than legalistic concerns. I love his positive, logic-defying attitude!

  • Mark E Tisdale

    I read the same article about ‘tearfully removing my boards’ about a week ago and actually followed suit. I think Pinterest needs to resolve the issues with their TOS, etc. before I personally invest time in the site any further. However, I’m fine with people pinning from my site and left the pin it button up.
    I think some of the concern from the artist/photographer side of the fence about Pinterest selling their content is honestly overblown. Pinterest has a vast ‘library’ but it’s a huge poison apple. They have no way of knowing what content is legitimately added by the person who has the right to submit it and what is random images found floating on the internet. As soon as they start trying to profit by “selling” it, they’ll sell something they had no right to. In fact, I’d bet the vast majority of their content are images pinned by people who ultimately have no legal right to license the image in the first place.
    What led me to back off using it personally, adding things I liked to it was the liability concern. I’d rather not wind up a test case for someone who wants to sue.
    As for the no pin code, etc. I think that type of things is trying to swim upstream on the internet. I read about Flickr adding the code to their site on Facebook. I can’t remember who posted it, perhaps Mashable or someone like that. Anyway, the first several comments were people telling others how to circumvent the no-pin code. I’d rather have a proper pin using the pin it button or bookmarklet linking viewers back to my site than a random screen print that will never point back to me.

  • This is a great discussion because Pinterest can be seen equally as opportunity or abuse. I was surprised to find a lot of my work on Pinterest without a direct link to my site, but I will have to take your recommended steps on tagging the art with my info.
    I guess my point of view is that if you’re going to use my work, I would love it if you at least interacted with me in some other way: facebook fan, mailing list, blog comment or even sending me an email about how the work inspired you. Then I feel more like we have a relationship of some kind, and you’re supporting my art.

    • MA: I know that we always prefer the interaction. But maybe if you find something pinned inappropriately, you (WE) could take a deep breath and say a little prayer that someone appreciated your work. Say Thank You to the Universe. Take another deep breath and then go and politely thank the pinner and claim attribution.

  • Some of your readers may be well aware that I come down on the side of those who like to keep a degree of control over where my images appear. My happiness to share online on my sites does not equate to allowing somebody I’ve never met to take those same images and post them anywhere they like. I’ve spent several years posting the images of other artists to my blog and have had no trouble getting their permission. People should try asking! It’s good to ask as well as to share! :)
    There are several posts on my blog which may be of help to those who are concerned about Pinterest re how to install the meta tag, to how to find your images on Pinterest and how to get them removed from Pinterest if you don’t like them being there.
    My primary concerns largely revolve around the TOS which is a complete and utter mess.
    * It says one thing ie you must only post pics which are your own or those you have permission to share
    * while at the same time doing quite another (ie allowing people to post from anywhere without any prompts which check whether members are doing what they agree to do according to the agreement). The degree of laxity (‘contributory liability’) means the site has almost certainly lost its safe harbour protection as its operates at present.
    * and it then dictates that all liability for expensive legal action is to be offloaded on to the Pinterest member (ie you have to pay their legal bills as well as your own if you’ve messed up!)
    Opinions vary but there are estimates that about 85-90% of the images do NOT meet the terms of operation which members agree to because of the way it operates at present.
    My second concern relates to the monetisation of the content – which will definitely happen. However, we don’t know anything yet about how monetisation will work. So at present people are filling the site with content before they know how it might be affected. Let’s not forget that’s why the TOS includes “sell” . IMO notions of selling prints of images are offbeam. I think it’s far more likely that images will have paid links ‘pinned’ to them which direct people to retailers. (ie the retailer pays to get a link – and Pinterest sells them the use of the image you uploaded). Bottom line ask yourself what would the big retail sites like to happen and that’s probably the direction the site will go in.
    My bottom line is I want to know how the monetisation is going to work before I allow any of my images on the site – hence why I have the meta tag in place.
    The third concern is that some of the people using the site are not going to be as nice as the people commenting in this column. There are a lot of scammers out there. However I refuse to be a victim of the mentality which says it’s bound to happen. I’m with the people who want better systems from the site owners and more respect paid to artists and photographers who create visual 2D works. I think setting boundaries and promoting awareness of proper practices is important. I’m pleased that life is abundant for some people but would like people to remember that it’s not the case for everybody. Moving society towards a support for the notion that “it’s good to share but not to take” would help everybody
    IMO Pinterest has the potential to do well – and will suit certain markets very well indeed. Here’s what I’d like to see it do:
    * revise the TOS as a matter of priority so that it reflects exactly the way the site SHOULD operate so that it complies with all relevant legislation and FTC rules
    * prompt people before they pin an image to confirm that they have complied with the terms of the member agreement (eg Please tick the box which indicates how you obtained this image: (1) I created the image and am the copyright owner; (2) I have permission or a licence to use this image from the copyright owner; (3) this image came from a page which invites me to pin it; (4) this image comes from a page which allows this image to be shared (eg a retail site). I could see art ecommerce sites and/or galleries as having the status of being sites which are “approved” for the purposes of pinning.
    * consider how it deals with matters and compensation related to pinned images that are already the subject of a contractual arrangement on another site (I’m thinking here of the images which relate to affiliate agreements for specific sites which are effectively being ripped to shreds by Pinterest members!).
    I’d commend a ‘wait and see’ approach – and paying close attention to what the member agreement actually says. I’ve had it on good authority that changes will be occurring in the very near future. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

  • BTW Here’s a new article from Forbes Magazine “Pinterest’s Ramp Up: Genius or Sleazy?”
    The ethics of current practices will be of considerable interest to anybody who has linked their Facebook account to Pinterest.
    This is commentary on the monetisation angle from the Wall Street Journal Pinterest’s Rite of Web Passage—Huge Traffic, No Revenue

  • I have been watching the web closely and Pinterest worries are popping up by the thousands every day.
    I have to admit that at first I was just as enthusiastic as all the other Pinterest users – and I still really like it. I love the easy access to ideas – it’s like getting instant gratification without having to search so many places – but how embarrassing to lump myself into the instant gratification category so many of the younger generation falls into these days.
    I’m either going to have to accept this early part of the 21st Century as immediate access to everything that is “me” – or just shut down everything … my blog, my website, my FB and twitter accounts, my Pinterest – and everything else that is surely to follow (thought what that may be, I cannot imagine) – OR I’m going to have to play the game as best I can by posting at low res, tagging & copyrighting everything I post to my blog, etc.
    I do believe I’m going to go with the latter. And although there is risk, I like the idea that Pinterest might bring some new art/western lifestyle readers to my blog – and who knows, maybe even a potential customer or two? After much consideration I think I’d like my work to be pinned. As Dora said, maybe a few sales will come my way. It’s not like I am such a well-known artist (I do fall into a small niche) that people will respond to it with a frenzy, pin it a thousand times a week, and grab everything by me that they can. (sigh … I think that would be rather wonderful in some way).
    The one thing that I worry about is that I do license some of my work – so there is potential there for a problem. I’m still not sure how to handle that. I don’t even know if it’s possible to handle it!
    I will be closely following this discussion, as well as those on artist blogs I frequent.
    Thank you, Alyson, for posting this information – and to my fellow artists who have and will respond here.

    • Deb: Your work is perfect for being pinned – it has its niche and would look great on boards. I’m glad you’re embracing the new WHILE protecting yourself as best you can.

  • Deb – one thing I know from licensing is a number of them agencies won’t touch anything which is “out there” on the internet already. Is that your experience?
    Presumably artists are going to have to be very careful not to show anything they may wish to licence in future – in case it gets pinned and results in a ‘no sale’ to the licensing company?

    • Katherine,
      Thanks for this comment. I have not posted anything new that I might wish to license. Some of my work that was posted years ago was picked up by licensees when they saw it on the internet – that’s how I was originally discovered by a client. So that’s why I am not sure how to handle that part of it. I always check with my licensees to see if they would like for me to post about the products or remove anything from my blog. But some of those images are out there – period – and even were I to remove them from my blog, they would still show up.
      So I guess when you ask is that my experience, basically no – it really isn’t. However, I do think many licensees are very guarded about images having previously been seen.
      I am going to have to be more careful from now on about how and what I show. Thank you for bringing this up – it is good to be reminded of how things usually work.

  • I’ve been on Pinterest for almost 2 weeks and I joined specifically to promote my work. Like many I already had a few images pinned, but the image had my name under it and linked directly to my site.
    I totally agree with the thoughts here about the TOS and hope Pinterest makes the right call. While Pinterest discourages blantant self-promotion it is also the ONLY kind of pinning that is truly safe, so I only pin my own work from the internet. If I repin other images I check the link to make sure it goes to the source otherwise I don’t pin it. One of the comments above mentioned thanking a pinner if there was no credit line and I do the same. I just pinned a painting yesterday with the title and my name and someone who repinned it deleted it all.
    Watermarked images may be okay on your website, but your galleries may not want images with your website and copyright info stamped into them and many images are pinned from galleries. I only post 72dpi images on my website and facebook, but honestly this can be gotten around. I personally can not afford to spend a great deal of time policing the internet for uncredited images of my work.
    My decision to join came under the if you can’t beat them join them column. At least now the majority of pinning of my work will originate from me since I am now on the site. I have gotten increased traffic to my website and even picked up a facebook fan since I joined. I look at this as another tool to connect with people and let them see what I do.
    Thanks for this comprehensive information Alyson. Every artist needs to look at this individually and decide what is best for them.

    • Casey: You wrote “I just pinned a painting yesterday with the title and my name and someone who repinned it deleted it all”
      What did you do?
      As for the 72ppi images, that can never be changed. You can never make a higher-resolution image from a lower resolution image, though you can do the reverse.

      • Incidentally, digital images are measured in “pixels per inch” not “dots per inch” that are used in printing. That’s why I use ppi.

      • I commented under their repinning “Thanks for pinning my painting!” That way I am in some way connected to her repinned image.

      • Sorry PPI ~ you’re right. Are you sure about the resolution? I really hope that’s true but it seems I read somewhere that you could so some kind of resolution enhancement, but hopefully I’m wrong about that.

    • Kirsty Hall

      “I just pinned a painting yesterday with the title and my name and someone who repinned it deleted it all.”
      That is infuriating, Casey and very contrary to the culture of Pinterest. I’m firmly of the opinion that we can’t stop people sharing our work – at least not without spending a lot of effort on it – but we should all be strongly encouraging a culture of attribution online. I do call people on deliberate non-attribution if I notice it.

  • Can anyone tell me how to embed or add a tag to an image that will bring the posted image back to its published origin? I’ve seen that mentioned here a lot and I’d really like to know how to do it.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Deb,
      This is what you do: If you pin something from your own or someone’s website or blog then it automatically has the link to the published origin. This works when you use the pin it button from the website/blog you are on or if you have the “Pin it” on your browser. You can go to your website/blog and if you click pin it on the browser then all the images on that page will show up with a “pin it” on them…they always link back to your/other’s website.
      Now…if you are already on pinterest and you want to repin an image…you can click on the image to see if it takes you back to the published origin. You can not add a tag directly on the image…you can put it on the comment box but that can get deleted easily when it’s re-pinned. Before I re-pin something I always click on the image to make sure it’s linked. If it goes to tumbler or google or yahoo or…not where it came from then I wont re-pin.
      I hope this all makes sense…I’ve tried to explain it the best I could. it’s easier for me to do than explain it…

    • Deb: And you can embed metadata in an image, but as I said above, Pinterest strips metadata, so you’d just be wasting your time.

      • mike finley

        I’d suggest adding author and copyright metadata to your images anyway – while pinterest does delete it, not all sites do.

  • Kirsty Hall

    I do wonder if the people who’re saying that Pinterest doesn’t link back to the original source are aware that you do need to click on the images twice. Usually if you only click on it once, it will open a separate tab with a large version of the pin. However, if you then click on THAT image, you should be taken to the original source.
    The best way to pin is from an individual blog post, that way if someone clicking on the pin at a later date, they’ll be taken to that specific post and image. It’s infuriating when I’ve found something that I’m considering buying and I’m just taken to somewhere like a general design blog – if it’s been some time since the item was pinned it will no longer be anywhere near the front page. I’m often actively looking for the creator of the work either to feature them on my Twitter stream or because I’m comparison shopping. So I do firmly believe that if you’re using Pinterest, you should take great care to attribute accurately: it’s best for the creator and it’s best for other users of Pinterest.

  • The Quilt Designers’ group on Yahoo has been discussing Pinterest, too. One of the members gave this info to find out if any of your site’s images have been pinned:
    http://www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite with no http’//www.
    Just put in your website name and URL

  • […] Consider these four ways to protect your images. 1. Keep your images at a low resolution (72 ppi) and small-ish size. This is a big concern for many people, but, as I said, these other sites have been doing it long before Pinterest became the darling of the social media scene. We moved past their transgressions. I don’t mean thumbnails only. Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem? — Art Biz Blog […]

  • I’m wondering if Casey’s comment was deleted because the pinner has since deleted content from that board.
    In any case – I too love the idea of Pinterest and the possibilities of what can be achieved, but!, rather than jumping on either *band-wagon* – delete account – or cease doing anything until the make a decision…I’ve decided to keep pinning my own work – and making sure I have something on photos that says it belongs to me…and – I also state on my Pinterest account – “Please feel free to pin & repin”
    The other thing I’ve asked is if people aren’t opposed to being pinned or re-pinned for them to leave a comment under any of my works and that way I will happily pin their works to my boards….but I also will go back and edit that to include that images they claim to be their must have a copyright mark and their name on it as proof.
    That’s safe pinning in my books, and whilst the legal wrangles still go on regarding everything – doing it sensibly and with knowledge that you have permission from the originating source is a far better way to go – and – at the same time – most can still enjoy pinning & repinning without repercussion… ok – so just MHO…lol :)
    Thanks also for an informative post.
    cheers
    Suzi

  • ALL: You must read Kirsten Kowalski’s follow-up after Ben Silverman, founder of Pinterest, called and talk with her about how Pinterest could address her concerns. Here it is:
    http://ddkportraits.com/2012/02/my-date-with-ben-silbermann-following-up-and-drying-my-tears/

  • Pros and Cons of Pinterest | Rochester Artisans

    […] Then I read this article on Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog: Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem? […]

  • I have been following all of this here, and reading lots of articles on the net that are both pro & con. I have mixed feelings about all of this, but what really concerns me is Pinterest’s terms of service. I even made a graphic that I posted on my blog the other day for people to share, asking Pinterest to change their terms. Feel free to share it & Pin it:
    http://www.tracibunkers.com/blog/2012/03/dear-pinterest.html
    I like sharing my work. It has helped me gain a following which in turn helped land my first book deal because the publisher knew I had a following. I’ve since written 2 other books. So, I don’t want to stop sharing, and it does help my business. Even though I can find a gazillion of my images on Pinterest, my traffic from it is negligible (like beyond negligible according to google anayltics). Also, I found that many people would misspell my name and not list my website–so if my work got unlinked, there was less of a chance for someone to find me. So I’m glad I’m adding my info as part of the image now. Interestingly enough, one of my biggest traffic sources is from Facebook.
    I haven’t put up the blocking code (yet) and am really debating on that. What has stopped me from doing it follows the same logic that a lot of parents probably use with their teenage daughters-“I don’t want you to have sex, but if you’re going to, I want you to be on birth control.” (Okay, maybe you’re not following my logic on that one, but with other events in the news right now, that’s the first thing that popped into my head and the analogy makes TOTAL sense to me.) By that, I mean if someone is going to pin my work, I’d rather they do it from my site so that it’ll be linked to me rather than to save my image to their computer and upload it somewhere else, where I won’t have the link and probably not get credit.
    I hadn’t been putting a credit line on my work (it honestly never crossed my mind), but when I started researching all of this, I got a nudge from Alyson to do it. Now, I’m adding mine underneath my work so that it looks just like a credit line, but having it be part of the image. I hadn’t been putting a date on the copyright, but Alyson mentioned a good point in this blog post about why you should do that. So I’ll make that change.
    I always size the photos I post to be 500 pixels wide because that’s the column width on my bog. So, I set up a template in photoshop with layers that is 500 pixels wide–1 layer is for the image, and the layer under it has the credit line/copyright text. I saved it as a photoshop file (psd) so that the layers are saved and not flattened. Then, I can just adjust the canvas height according to the image I’m going to use, and pop in my new image. Then I flatten the layers and save it as a jpeg. But I still have my photoshop file with layers so I don’t have to recreate it every time
    I put my credit/copyright info underneath, instead of ON the image, because most of my images don’t have a good place to put it–like the example Alyson gave in this post, there is plenty of empty space to add the watermark without it being distracting. My images usually don’t have that.
    I often take snapshots of work in progress with my iPod Touch to post on my blog. A friend told me about an app that makes it super simple to add a watermark/signature to a photo called A+ Signature. It’s free, and easy to use. That way I can add a quick watermark to the bottom of the photo (or where ever you want to put it) without having to go into photoshop to do it. With those pics, it’s not that I’m worried about anyone “selling” these images, but I want to have my info on it so they can find me if the link gets lost.
    I read an interesting blog post yesterday about a woman who found that her work had been “stolen” and was being sold on the internet. When she contacted the person doing it, the response was that she found it on Pinterest without any credit, so thought it was ok. I don’t see this so much as a fault of Pinterest, but just what can happen (anywhere) without credit info as part of the image. But also sad that people think it’s “ok” if they don’t know where it came from.
    I love Kristy Hall’s info (first comment) that she has for her copyright terms and Pinterest use. I need to think about that and redo mine.

    • Traci – thanks so much for sharing how you add a caption/credit line to your photos via layers/Photoshop. This seems like a good solution since it combines artist info/date/copyright at the bottom as a caption with your art photo without putting a watermark directly onto the image. (plus it looks more elegant than the often clunky caption you can via WordPress default.
      PS – love your website and just discovered that I have one of your books! ; )

  • UK Copyright protection [introduced in the 1700’s to protect the new technology of the printed book] can either be cited to keep my art in a prison cell. This is my art, I have made it & it’s too precious to share & no you can’t have a look at it etc…
    However I’m very proud of the art that I produce and I want others to see and appreciate it.
    I have given my art a degree of freedom to allow it to run in the massively ever expanding world of the digital age as exemplified by the great blue yonder, the blue nowhere, of the internet. So my art is out there to be found and I have to put my trust in whoever finds it.
    As a purely creative artist I have two motivations: one to create art for the sake of its creation and two to share that art for the sake of connecting my art and me to the outside world for all to see.
    The problem is that once I release any images of my works of art on my:-
    • Personal web site
    • Personal Facebook page
    • Art studio of Meltemi Facebook page
    • Pinterest boards…etc.
    Many of the images of my art are also on various artists’ art forums:-
    • Those that are about art for other artists [both here in the UK and the USA]
    • Those that are about offering my art for sale via their ‘virtual art gallery [ditto UK & USA]
    Those copyright protected images of my works of art are there available for any web browser to find or use. They are there for any internet user to find. The trusting faith is that those browsing viewers will look at & admire my art, be moved to find out more about me and my art, be moved to tell their friends about it and perhaps even to buy some of it!
    Copyright put simply allows me, the creative artist, to do several things with my art without having to asking any person for permission. At the same time it prevents other people from using my art without my written consent or any legally binding agreement.
    Copyright Legislation gives me the right to:-
    • Produce as many copies of my art as I need [The Right of Reproduction]
    • Issue those copies of my art to the public [the Right of Distribution]
    • Lend or rent my art or its copies to the public [The Right of Lending]
    • Show my art in exhibition that I chose [The Right of display]
    • Make adaptations e.g. size colours of my art that I chose, to put bits in, to take bits out etc. [The Right of Adaptation]
    These ‘Five Rights’ (as listed above) will remain with me even if an original work of art is sold to any purchaser or buyer. Equally they will remain with me even if that work of art is a gift for any third party or even if that work of art is then sold on to another art collector etc.
    These ‘Rights’ will exist from the date that the work of art was created and they will continue for seventy years [70 years] after my death. If the guardians of my estate act they could continue almost indefinitely.
    Just like any precious commodity the copyright on a work of art can theoretically be sold onto the purchaser or buyer (all things have a price)!
    So my art is out there for all to find. It would be difficult to discover what usage anyone browsing the internet may make of it and I certainly cannot control it or them. I have to respect that the internet is simply a publishing board for all to see and use. I use the internet fairly and I hope that all using it to view my art do so too.

  • So, at the end of the day, maybe it all boils down to everything being fine and dandy if the income you earn from having your art out there roaming free across the Internet is sufficient to pay for the costs of pursuing any legal action if any of your copyrights are infringed – and do you do mind enough to do something about it. As well as paying the bills and the taxman etc.
    Or is it maybe that the product is not the art at all – but the IMAGE of the art? Something pretty to look at on a screen – and then move on? That’s a notion which suggests there may in reality be no connection whatsoever between the image of the art and any future potential income streams from actual sales of the “real” art.
    Does that sound completely ludicrous to you?
    If it does, try reading this very interesting article which I’m recommending people to read
    Standing at the crossroads of what’s yours is mine on crafthaus

    • The internet is about images of my art and on the internet that’s all they are. They are not the physical hard work original.
      My images out there on the internet are open to abuse? True
      But how else would the world see my art?
      The Original works of art are secure in the hands of my collectors…I’m not sure what they would feel seeing their cherished original being abused by an unknown third party.
      The unsold works of art are secure in my studio etc.
      As an art professor friend, based in Egypt put it: “your art is so instantly recognised, one look and you know its a ‘kendall’. Phil, you do not have to worry about other leading artists’ copying your work as the world would instantly know it. Those currently lesser artists’ still learning their trade would perhaps show up one day. So why worry? The world would instantly spot those fakes”.

  • Just wanting to a further “dilemma” to the equation..
    After reading about people going in and “thanking” someone for “re-pinning” – I thought that was a great idea – so went to do it….
    Whilst on the particular board of one person who had ‘repinned’ my work – I happened to notice a bracelet and thought I’d take a closer look…
    Thankfully – the link back to the blog this bracelet was on was still “intact” – and well….hmmmm!!…What can I say other than it was an absolute eye opener!!
    I discovered that the person who was “putting” the work out there so to speak – was actually “lifting” paid for tutorials of a few artisans I know – re-writing them – including photos – and putting them out for FREE!!!…
    Discovering this was “gobsmacking” to say the least – and is yet another reason why we all need to be very careful about what it is we are “repinning” etc.
    A lot of people who wouldn’t know of the “true identity” of the ownership of those designs would simply go ahead and utilize the material that was being presented to them without question.
    This seems to me yet another reason why knowing where the originating source comes from on Pinterest is so vital…and – if a person cannot verify that they own the work in the images or that the photo’s aren’t theirs – or that they don’t have permission…who knows what you can end up walking into….
    Suffice to say the person who owns the designs in question has been notified so they can take what ever steps are necessary in getting both the blog and the offending materials removed from Pinterest. The interesting part about the images on Pinterest is that they in fact do belong to the person who “took” the designs and re-wrote them – however it’s the content of those images that now form part of a copyright wrangle..

  • I decided to do away with Pinterest for the time being. I wrote about it in this blog post: http://capappasart.com/2012/02/28/not-partaking-in-pinterest/. I recently read another “artist’s guide to Pinterest” type article and the person said that “you are the product” and maked it seem like you would miss out terribly if you didn’t join up right away. The truth is, I’m sick of being someone else’s product and Pinterest was more of a timewaster for me than anything else. I checked and I had five paintings that were pinned on Pinterest and most of them had no credit info given. I didn’t get any traffic from these at all to my website, so I really can’t see the point. I added the no pin code to my website and disabled sharing on flickr, not really because of people sharing but because I don’t want to support Pinterest. I see them as more of a bully who makes you agree to their awful terms to use their cool website.
    If they did change their TOS, I would consider signing up for them, to repin my own work (perhaps with watermarks). As far as their etiquette guide saying that you shouldn’t self-promote, I see people pinning entire etsy shops on there all the time, so I don’t see the harm in it.

  • Did you read the article? I think probably not given the comments you make. It’s a mind-bending read but highly recommended.
    You also say “The world would instantly spot those fakes”.
    I’m sorry that not’s only an over-simplification but it’s also just not true.
    * Not everybody in “the world” is familiar with the work of every artist.
    * If we’re VERY lucky we have friends who will spot the fakes and the frauds and the plagiarists if they also sell their work through the internet. But it’s luck which makes this happen – and good friends. If they choose not to sell it through the internet, the chances are nobody will ever know – especially if they are a continent away.

  • 4 March 2012: Who’s made a mark this week? | The SuperSlinger Site

    […] Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem? – Art Biz Blog […]

  • Great info. I’ve been worried about all of my images showing up elsewhere.

  • There is a lot I could say about this all, but won’t bother… What I will say is that image theft did not start with Pinterest & many people need to remember that. I will also say that if I wanted my work put anywhere online by others it would be Pinterest… I’d be more concerned with my work floating elsewhere online!
    I noticed something written by Pinterest that may be of interest to others – “Only image files can be pinned. High resolution images can be uploaded, but we don’t display hi-res images on Pinterest, so you will notice a change in quality once the file is uploaded.” Source: http://support.pinterest.com/entries/21050783-how-do-i-upload-an-image-from-my-computer

  • Hi Alyson and all – really excellent info and discussion here – thanks for all of your scoop and opinions.
    Does anyone here use Digimarc?
    http://www.digimarc.com/technology/about-digital-watermarking
    I’ve been embedding a (traceable) digital watermark into my images for several years, along with filling out the file info on each image, making the image smaller/optimized for web etc.
    Since you can’t see the watermark, I’m not certain how useful this would be for attribution (I like Traci’s idea of combining a caption with the art image)
    I’ve also starting to add a caption (copyright, date, dimensions, name) whenever I post my images on-line. thanks to Alyson’s nudging.
    I have a Pinterest account but have not done anything with it yet due to time constraints. Perhaps my delay is a good thing after all as I learn more about it and figure out the best way to proceed.
    Thanks again for all the thoughtful (and thought provoking) dialogue!

  • […] all aflutter about its Terms of Use. Pesky copyright and all. There are good blogs and comments at ArtBizBlog and [i] LoveLife. Definitely check these posts if you’re looking to read more. I think they […]

  • Laura Tyler

    I’m more concerned about the wholesale shift of financial resources away from creators & their representatives and toward the new tech companies (Google, FB, Amazon & so on) than I am about individual image theft. The Pinterest Terms of Service crystallizes those concerns.

    • Laura: Just to play devil’s advocate: What about Facebook terms of service?
      And what will you do, personally, about Pinterest?

      • Alyson, Laura,
        That is what I’m confused about. Is Facebook’s TOS so different? I haven’t posted any paintings on pinterest since all this bruhaha…I’m not sure what to do. BUT…I really don’t understand what the difference is between Pinterest and images that are posted all over the web on tumbler, google…etc.
        I just saw this btw:
        http://www.knoed.com/thewindowseat/

        • Laura Tyler

          Hi, Alyson and Dora,
          I am flattered you think I remember signing off on FB’s Terms of Service. ;)
          I see all the social media TOS agreements as more or less the same – boundary-pushing documents created with an eye toward shifting copyright norms – so I’m happy to see people questioning them. And who reads them, right? It’s my hunch that PInterest is receiving some extra scrutiny right now because: it’s hit a cultural tipping point; the word “sell” has rung some alarm bells; some people (like me) are realizing for the first time that Pinterest & FB strip metadata; and then there’s and the third party nature of the site.

      • Laura Tyler

        Hi, Alyson.
        I will handle as I always have, but not posting images I’m not comfortable losing control over. I’m happy to see the short clips I’ve posted on YouTube bop around the web. I’m less comfortable, but ultimately OK with low res images of my artwork making making the rounds and and post those judiciously. I am not OK with entire films, or images from my personal life floating around so I don’t post those at all.

  • Oh Pinterest, Must I Leave You?!

    […] news is that they seem open to changing things if necessary. (More articles on this subject: here, here, […]

  • Fay

    I’m not on Pinterest personally, and not tempted to get an account right now – too little free time.
    But I’ve been intrigued about this discussion. My rather simplistic understanding has always been that sharing *links* to others’ work is fine – and I’d be happy with that for any of my own photos – but that passing off other peoples’ work as your own is a definite no-no. (Especially if there’s any question of someone else making money off my work and not even giving me credit.)
    I’d have to understand more about how Pinterest works to see what the problem is here – shouldn’t there be a clear distinction between your own work that you’ve posted to the site, and others’ images that you’ve linked to from elsewhere (and giving them the credit)? It’s usually obvious on Facebook whether someone’s uploaded a picture directly or linked to it from elsewhere. What’s different about Pinterest that makes the distinction harder for the average user to see?

    • Fay: I think you need to try it out before you can understand how it works.
      The controversy is because works are pinned (linked to) from sites other than the artists’ original sites, so the attribution disappears.

    • Laura Tyler

      “I’d have to understand more about how Pinterest works to see what the problem is here.”
      Think of Pinterest as a TV network that makes money by selling ads and data about its users to advertisers. But instead of broadcasting TV shows that it created or licensed it’s broadcasts a giant, interactive collage of images. That’s the problem, as I see it. Pinterest is a TV-like network that’s making money on the backs of artists by broadcasting images it’s neither licensed nor created.

      • Let’s also not forget that if they were doing the same thing in a magazine, every single image will have been bought from or licensed from a photographer who took the time and trouble to create the image. Such photographers will have been paid a fee for their work.
        As I see it the only way to start bringing Pinterest into line and to make sure that only images are included where the owner has given permission is for the photographers to start sending Pinterest invoices for fees for the reproduction of images which they have not got permission to publish.

        • Also, I find it very disturbing that there’s a site now that will print books & posters of people’s Pinterest boards. I’m not sure if they are affiliated with Pinterest or not, and Pinterest never responded to my tweets asking, but you need an “invitation” to join, just like Pinterest. Here’s the link: http://invite.print-erest.com/

        • P.S. Good point about the magazine–I’ve seen people say that Pinterest is no different than people cutting out magazine pictures and having their own notebook of inspiration. This is another reason why it’s not.

  • I never thought I’d be adding this as a comment – but sometimes strange things happen.
    It looks like Ben Silbermann the founder of Pinterest has DELETED all his boards! (see http://pinterest.com/ben/ – which is the URL for @Ben Silbermann)
    One can only speculate as to the reasons why:
    * Could it be that he failed to observe all the Pinterest terms of service?
    * Is it possible he forgot to get the permission of the owners of the copyright of the images he posted BEFORE he posted them?
    * Might the photographers now be seeking their revenge?
    Anybody got any other suggestions?

      • Laura Tyler

        Thank you, Dora.
        Here’s a synopsis for those of you who don’t have time to read the whole article:
        “Pinterest addresses copyright concerns by claiming it’s protected under the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and consulting with it’s lawyers.”

        • And…Thank you Laura for summarizing it. Very kind of you! Have a great weekend everyone! Wonder how long we will cont. to be talking about this…Looking for a solution soon. ;)

        • That’s not new – that’s what they’ve always said.
          It’s maybe more accurate to characterise this as being what they “believe”. However several other lawyers have gone on record as saying they doubt the site is protected because of the way it operates.
          The problem is that it doesn’t stack up when you compare the TOS and the advice offered as to how to use the site – which are contradictory. Plus not all pins – and repins – by members are compliant with fair use.

          • For more about assessing whether a site or a pinned image complies with “fair use” check out the very useful Stanford University Guidance on Measuring Fair Use: The Four Factors
            Also with respect to the enjoyment of “safe harbor” protection do take a look at the Chilling Effects advice about What is contributory infringement?. This site is maintained by the Stanford Center for Internet & Society

    • I don’t have any suggestions. It’s all kind of odd. I just wish that this whole thing would get settled soon. I have 1966 pins and I want to know what to do with them. I’m trying to sit tight and wait…but…
      I just went to their site to check on my pins and they have updated/changes our personal pages. It looks good.

    • I found out he deleted his boards to start new ones: “Starting a fresh new account to remember how new Pinterest user’s feel!
      http://pinterest.com/8en/
      Also, they just made an overhaul–and now the pictures are bigger. I guess he was too busy doing that to deal with all of the concerns. And, he was speaking at SXSW. I honestly don’t see Pinterest addressing any concerns until “something” happens. And too many people don’t care/don’t realize/don’t see the harm, so Pinterest will continue to grow even though a lot of people are deleting their boards & accounts.
      I feel like it puts the “content creators” between a rock & a hard place. If you put the no-pin code up, then people can just save your image to their computers or take a screen shot & upload to Pinterest, which means you have no credit or link. At least without the code, there’s a better chance of getting credit & having it link to your site. I have been putting my info under the image, but it’s still part of the file. As much as I hate to do it, I am now thinking that I need to put a watermark ON the image. It would be more of a barrier also to Pinterest selling or whatever they want with it. Well, they could remove the watermark, but it would at least be not as easy as using it as is (in whatever way they might use it).

  • […] upset with Pinterest over copyright issues and alleged copyright infringement? Stanfield, Alyson. Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem? Tsukayama, Hayley. Pinterest addresses copyright concerns. This entry was posted in arts crafts […]

  • […] recent article on Pinterest covers the crux of the debate over this relatively new image-sharing site. So, while we’re […]

  • Great article, I continue to feel like the Pinterest problem will continue to pick up steam and draw attention. Read my recent blog post for a similar discussion to your own. http://thelawsoffashion.com/make-sure-you-are-taking-these-3-precautions-or-delete-your-pinterest/

  • Lindsay

    I really don’t think it’s possible to get people away from pinterest. I am a total free sharer! I paint and draw and if my art was floating around without my name, I wouldn’t care. I think
    People are a little too in love with their work. Move on and do more art, don’t worry what people do with the past images of your old stuff….

  • I’ve referenced this blog post in my website Pinterest, Copyright and Spam – for Visual Artists & Photographers. This provides an overview of the legal niceties and the perspectives of all the different people involved with the debate about how Pinterest has been operating.
    This also contains a complete UPDATE on all the changes Pinterest made to its TOS and other ways of working in April and May 2012 – which post dates most of the comments on this blog.
    Bottom line – Pinterest did have to change the way they it was operating! Plus Pinterest members should also have taken note of the changes in the TOS as of 6th April 2012

  • Do Good Work and Share it with People | not-so-secret formula

    […] frequently, I couldn’t help but think of an article I had seen lately regarding the “Pinterest Problem.”  In another article I had read about photogaphers being upset at having their images […]

  • I think this is totally out of control now, I am a painter and decided to sell online and do my best using Pinterest. I am aware many of my artworks are published at hundreds of sites because I have seen it, but… before Pinterest it was similar!, the only change is today this is easier and easier…
    Finally I have decided to add myself a Pin button on my paintings and hoping my website maintains the link back to my site. I surrendered.
    http://www.art-and-supplies.com/figure-art.html
    I invite you to see what it looks like now with the Pin button on each picture.
    regards
    Pedro

  • Edward M. Fielding

    Probably worse than Pinterest is the general loss of permanency of images. Everyone wants to find or post and image, get some feedback from friends and move on. They want their engagement photos on a disk so they can Facebook them. Its a generation that doesn’t invest in physical imagery that you can hang on a wall. They are too fickle for that. They change tastes by the hour.

  • Lyla Mclean

    For years I worked the major art and craft shows and had people buy my work, copy it and sell it as their own. I got shingles once from rage. Today I feel sad for those who have no imagination and have to copy others and pass it off as theirs. At the same time, we all absorb billions of images and other data. There have been times when two scientists, having no knowledge of each other, come up with the same ideas at the same time. Maybe all the beautiful, wonderful, amazing and fun ideas are all part of Creation rather than creation, a spiritual concept that goes beyond “my” work?

  • […] Is the Pinterest Problem Really a Problem – 117  < THE most commented-on post! […]

  • […] know what you’re asking now: Where’s Twitter? Why not Pinterest? What about […]

  • Mary Lehmann

    I have been viewwing “pintrest” for nearly 2 years and now i am blocked I do not share or Repin

  • Wonderful article, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.
    My wife is a cake maker which are sold through the family restaurant, and a lot of her cakes are on the company website.
    Long story shirt I have just discovered another issue with Pinterest in terms of bandwidth (or the amount of data sent/received from a website)
    There is one particular high-res image that is about 2MB on the website, and it has been repinned no LESS than 200+ times on pinterest.
    To put it another way, I have had to readjust the bandwidth allocation for the website no less than FOUR times in the last 3 days, it has now reached 20GB of bandwidth usage and is still climbing.
    I guess the message for your readers (tied into what you said about image size/dpi) is if you do run your images from your web host, for goodness sake ENSURE that you are using 75dpi, save as a JPG format (not PNG) and keep the filesize as small as possible while maintaining image clarity.
    Take care all, I’m off to replace the high-res with a lower-res image AND watermark it ;)
    Paul.

  • Joe Don Baker

    My problem as a Marketing professional is twofold. First, Pinterest does not allow any way to “lock” the description of an image. I was able to set up the code to add the “Pin It” icon to our website, and part of that code is the “description” that will autofill when someone wants to Pin an image. However, the person doing the pinning can simply delete the description or overwrite it. This is unforgiveable.
    The second problem is that when browsing Pinterest by keyword I was able to see a multitude of images belonging to us. When I clicked most of them there was no mention of our company or product (which the pictures is showing). I was able to add my comment to rectify this: up to a point. After about 5 times I got a “Uh-oh, looks like you’ve been overdoing it on the comments” or some such nanny bs. I think Pinterest was not developed with future business practices in mind and that makes it fall well short of being a viable marketing tool.

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *