My Brief Fling with Pinterest, Part 2

I still dream about the romance, of course. You know: remembering all the best parts. That boat ride! That dinner! Those truffles!


That tutorial for making your own soap.


Oops. There’s always the part where the analogy breaks down completely, like an old wagon. I think we’ve reached that part. So never mind about the romance. Let’s talk about Pinterest.

Remember: I’m not urging you to give up Pinterest. Not at all. It’s been a huge boon to many people who LOVE having their work pinned and re-pinned. It’s free advertising if it’s linked and credited. I think the problem comes when people re-pin images they love without checking to make sure there’s an appropriate link to the source. The problem for me was the whole part about making sure you have permission. How is that going to work? Some people argue that by putting photos of your work online, you’re giving permission to have them re-posted. I don’t know about the legal issues here, but I’m pretty sure there are a bunch of people who don’t see it that way and don’t want anyone else to do anything with their photos. Ideally, we’d all be savvy about what posting online content really means, but that’s not the case. There are people who upload photos to their blog or website and think that’s where those photos will stay. Finding out that someone has pinned those somewhere else isn’t going to make them happy. The good news is that you can now find code to insert in your website or blog template that prevents the Pin It! app from pinning your content. That gives some people a way to prevent pinning, but it’s one of those things that works great in theory but maybe not so great in practice, with people who have no idea how to tweak their templates and are loathe to pay someone else to do it for them just for that one little snippet of code. On the other hand, companies are urging customers to pin their favorite catalog products and thinking of Pinterest as free advertising. Any opinion about this you can imagine, someone has it.

So that’s my two cents’ worth, but as I say over and over and over: I am not a lawyer. I know virtually nothing about copyright law. I have no idea how all the furor over Pinterest and copyright and terms of use will shake out. Some people say it will all blow over; some people say it will end in disgrace, like Napster. What do you think? Let’s have a discussion and get some more ideas–it’s always good to hear what others are thinking and how they’re using Pinterest and what they think its future will be.

For me, it’s a decision based on two things: time and vibes. I don’t have time to ask for permission to pin things I like–finding contact info, sending a note, waiting to hear back, making sure I save the email granting permission, just in case someone asks. And vibes, or karma: if it’s something that might cause a problem–I’ve heard of artists tracking down everyone who pins their work and asking them to add text to the comments–I’d rather just look instead of participate, and that’s what I’m doing now. Just looking. Because for me, just admiring that fabulous guy out there on the dance floor? It’s often way, way better than getting out there with him and trying to keep up.


Ricë also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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2 Responses to My Brief Fling with Pinterest, Part 2

  1. CarolineA says:

    I think the problem comes from the multitude of reasons people have for posting things online. As internet users we tend to think that anything posted is there for the taking because that is what the poster WOULD want. We don’t bother checking up to see what the poster really wants. Our need for gratification is instant so we don’t think, we click.
    If I had spent a long time, as in months or years, to produce an art work, I would be furious to find it printed on coasters on Etsy and the image distributed on someone’s blog along with a quick tutorial of how to make yet more prints! And yes, I would want those items removed, along with everything that had been republished or made, AND any money made from it! If I had spent six months writing a thesis or years writing a research paper I would be furious to find it reprinted on a shallow here today, gone tomorrow, website or blog, and would chase it up to be removed.
    This is what happens in the real world with printed books and physical works of art. Academics and professionals do guard their intellectual property, they have invested a lot of time and money in being able to produce it and it is how they make their living and earn their reputation. We are privileged if they share it with us and should not abuse their trust that we will do the right thing by them.
    Most of us fit into the here today, gone tomorrow, category. We post or write for the moment, before moving on to the latest fashion or fad next week. We need to re-learn the difference between right and wrong; after all we expect our kids to learn it, and apply it.
    The answer? READ the copyright conditions and respect them. I know its boring and takes a few seconds of your time, but when you break them it says more about you than you would ever want people to know, and thats not good because it may hang around forever as your gift to posterity!

    • Rice Freeman-Zachery says:

      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment, Caroline. I agree–we do things quickly, on impulse, without thinking about what the artist/writer/originator would want–or what’s right.