My Brief Fling with Pinterest, Part 1

It was just like a romance. Your friends all notice someone new, someone fabulous and gorgeous and full of possibility. They rave about him, urging you to drop by and meet him. You resist, having been down that road before but, finally, you give in. “Just this once,” you tell yourself as you stop by after work for a drink. “Just to see what he’s like.”

He is, of course, everything your friends reported: the hottest new thing in town. You go over and introduce yourself–you have, after all, been invited by your friends. And so begins the romance: you’re checking in with him all day long, spending long hours getting to know him, sighing in delight at all his many fabulous features. It’s glorious, it’s inspiring, it’s like chocolate and a trunk full of art supplies and a trip to the Paris flea markets and shopping for shoes all rolled into one.

Then, inevitably, you slow down a little after those first heady days and start to notice some things you maybe hadn’t noticed before. You discover he maybe has a little baggage, maybe some things you’d really rather not think too much about. You realized you should maybe have done a little checking before you leaped in.

And that’s what happened to me with Pinterest. I loved all the eye candy and set up some boards and was happily sharing stuff I loved, hoping to inspire people who loved the same stuff to share what they’d found. Then someone–and here’s a big thank you to all the people who’ve sent notes and made comments and generally forced me to look a little deeper–asked about copyright, and someone else mentioned the Terms of Use. Foolish me for not reading those before I signed up. I went, I read, I thought. And then I deleted all my boards.

Now, I am NOT suggesting you do the same. I am not here to give advice on this–not at all. I don’t know nearly enough to give advice. But I do want to encourage people to think about this, about Pinterest and how it’s being used by whom and for what reasons. I know it’s something people are talking about because a note I put on Facebook last week received over 50 comments from people on all sides of every issue involved. So what you need to do is educate yourself about what it is and how it’s meant to be used, and then you need to make sure you’re doing what’s right. In this case, what’s right is making sure people are credited for their work, whether that’s art or a recipe or a video or a photograph.

First, you can go back and read the three posts I did with three of my editors–here, here and here. They love PInterest, and they share the reasons why.

Then, you can go here to read Pinterest’s Terms of Use. Notice this part about what they can do with what’s posted on their site:

“We may, in our sole discretion, permit Members to post, upload, publish, submit or transmit Member Content. By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.”

They say they don’t claim to own it and are not restricting any rights you may have. I am not a lawyer and cannot further define what this means for you, but you should read it and know it’s there.

And this part about what is OK to post:

“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 to 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 Cold 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.”

Again, I don’t know the law and can’t define this for you. To me, it says that when you pin something, you are saying you have the right to do it and that Cold Brew Labs won’t get in trouble if they then do whatever they’re going to do with it. Maybe I’m wrong; I could well be.

Then go here to read #3, which tells you how they intend this to be used.

“Avoid Self Promotion

Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”

Then think about what this means. It’s not supposed to be about self-promotion, but you’re also not supposed to pin anything you don’t have permission to pin. That’s when I just gave up.

I’m not advising anyone else to give up on Pinterest, though. Come back on Wednesday, and I’ll finish up and invite you to have a discussion with me–there’s a lot to discuss here, and we can all benefit from hearing other people’s points of view.


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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4 Responses to My Brief Fling with Pinterest, Part 1

  1. CarolineA says:

    I would suggest you read Katherine Tyrrells blog account of her experience with Pinterest. She is a fine artist of high repute who very nearly lost the trust of people she works with because of Pinterest. Not only are her copyright conditions plastered all over her blogs and websites, but she often pays to place copies of other artists works on there as she covers art exhibitions and competitions. Because of blatant, selfish, and inconsiderate copying, her integrity was put at risk. This is how she solved the problem, starting here:
    There are 4 blog posts in all. The first two detail how you can prevent people from stealing your images from your blog and Flickr, and the last two detail how she got Pinterest to act.
    If you think the word stealing is a bit strong, please read her 4 blog posts, and then tell me it was not theft. The lines between fair use for personal study, and using for personal gain have become extremely blurred, and we rarely think about how it affects other people. Traci Bunkers is another person who has been adversely affected, as have many of her friends – please read her blog too.
    Thank you

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Thank you–and thanks to everyone who forwarded a link to Making a Mark’s posts. Very thoughtful, very well-explained.

  2. Mistrae says:

    Hi Rice ~
    I too was very weary of Pinterest when all my friends, digital designers, started using it … and yes, I thought we could promote ourselves and that what we posted remained our intellectual or creative property. But I never joined, and I am so, ever so, glad! Thanks for this post. It’s very educational and informative.

    There is another, celebrity-owned, multi-faceted website online that invites you to share your photos, journaling, poems, thoughts, etc. and on the surface it all looks so inviting and community-driven. But Read the Fine Print! Whatever is posted by you, as in the Pinterest clause above, becomes THEIR property to use as THEY wish. Uh, I don’t think so!

    If I have to give away my own creative property so that others can benefit, use and alter it to their legal heart’s content, then I will not share and/or network my writing or my art, even when I am not actively trying to ‘promote myself’…

    There are other ways to share and promote one’s creative works that don’t ask you to ‘sell the farm’. Thanks again for this post!

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      And isn’t that just odd, that sites are inviting people to *give* them their creations for free? And that people do it? I don’t know the site to which you refer, but I’d like to take a look.