Monday, March 19, 2012

Don't pin me down

I've been watching the experiments of other bloggers with Pinterest with interest. As interesting as it looks, I just haven't had the time to play around with it. I did find out via email that some of my images from this blog and Flickr were "pinned" in Pinterest.

Initially, I was flattered and interested in watching the viral life of imagery. But I also found it slightly disturbing as the image was repinned, and attribution was lost. It's one thing if you like an image on someone's blog and download it to your personal hard drive for your own personal mood board.

But it's another thing when someone who has never even heard of this blog and is not familiar with the source at all repins an image they found on Pinterest. The image has lost it's provenance. And provenance is how we assign credit.

This is a noncommercial blog. I purposely set out to create a blog where I don't try to sell you on anything except that you should develop and exercise your own ingenuity and bullshit detector. I made the decision not to try to profit off this blog. So I don't want others to take what they find here and put it on Pinterest so someone else can profit off it.

Read the Pinterest Terms of Use:

Key Terms related to Content

"Content" means text, graphics, images, music, software, audio, video, information or other materials.

"Pinterest Content" means all Content that Cold Brew Labs makes available through the Site, Application or Service, including any Content licensed from a third party, but excluding Member Content.

"Member" means a person that completes Cold Brew Labs’ account registration process, as described under "Account Registration" below.

"Member Content" means all Content that a Member posts, uploads, publishes, submits or transmits to be made available through the Site, Application or Services.

"Site Content" means Member Content and Pinterest Content.

[and then later on...]


The Site, Application, Services and Site Content are protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws of the United States and foreign countries. Except as expressly provided in these Terms, Cold Brew Labs and its licensors exclusively own all right, title and interest in and to the Site, Application, Services and Site Content, including all associated intellectual property rights. You will not remove, alter or obscure any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary rights notices incorporated in or accompanying the Site, Application, Services or Site Content.

[emphasis added.]

Uploading content that you do not own the rights to means that you have given Pinterest/Cold Brew Labs intellectual property rights that are not yours to give.

I'm watching the Pinterest vehicle with all the curiosity of a scientist, technologist and crafter. But I am not ready to hand over my intellectual property rights in such a broad and blanket manner. As the footer on this blog says:
All content copyright © 2005-2012 badmomgoodmom. All rights reserved.
It's fine to quote small passages or a thumbnail on your blog and link back if you are making a point that moves the discussion forward. I consider that fair use. But, if you are going to use any more than that, please ask permission. By the number of guest posts I write for other bloggers, you can see that I am fine with sharing content as long as I get attribution and keep my intellectual property rights.

I am currently writing a white paper about data provenance so I am very interested how long it takes for imagery to lose its provenance and in the fallout over Pinterest's terms of use.

Interesting analysis from a lawyer/photographer/Pinterest user:
DDK Portraits: Why I tearfully deleted my Pinterest inspiration boards
DDK Portraits: Top 50 responses to questions about Pinterest


  1. Marie-Christine04:56
    interesting links at the bottom too, including yours :-).

  2. Yep, you pretty much nailed why I'm not likely to get on Pinterest. I'll keep the copyright to my work, thanks! Interestingly, last time I checked, Facebook claimed ownership of pictures posted there, too. Which is part of why I'm not on Facebook. Of course, Facebook doesn't make it easy for other people to steal your copyrighted stuff... yet.

    You can usually tell when you've been pinned via your referral logs.

  3. Great points! I'm torn lately... I find so much inspiration there and haven't pulled the plug yet.

    Note: you can also put this code

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

    in your blog header and the user will see this message when they try to pin: "This site doesn't allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!"

  4. While attribution to original data source is lost in the text that accompanies Pinterest images as images are repinned, in all cases I've seen the image itself links back to the original source. So if you click on the image, it takes you to your blog. I haven't done a scientific or exhaustive study, so there may be instances where that attribution is stripped but as I said, I haven't run across any.

    As for the "nopin" tag, I think that's actually worse for your copyright purposes. Pinterest allows users to upload images from their computers. So if you prevent someone from pinning (which links the image permanently to your blog), they can grab the image, save it to their hard drive, and then upload it--and it will *never* be attributed to you or your blog.

  5. @SlapdashSewist
    Yes, the "nopin" flag will only deter the honest but naive user. The dishonest people can always download the content, rename the file and then upload it to Pinterest, as you said. In the end, I hope that most people are naive but basically honest and this will end a large majority of the abuses.

    I don't think most people have read the terms of use. The don't realize they are doing anything illegal or detrimental to others.

    Some photographers and artists who license their images have had their copyrighted stuff uploaded to Pinterest, which allows people to download and use the imagery for free. So they have lost their livelihoods through Pinning.

    Have you used Bing, Google and Yahoo image search on your images? The results can be surprising. Google is miles ahead of the competition in actually computing correlation functions between images, even resized and renamed images. (Vs. just comparing image metadata.) But, it still is a bit rough.


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