random musings

April 7, 2012

Why I'm not on pinterest

After reading this article and the tos, I ended up canceling my Pinterest account. While I completely dig the idea of an online and share-able bulletin board, my personal research showed that my own actions when pinning are not in line with fair use. There are many other sites that talk about the nuances of copyright laws and licensing options - I am not a lawyer so this post is more about my own personal journey.

Why support copyright beyond simple acknowledgement?
Well, there are obvious legal and practical reasons. Failing to obviously follow copyright laws has legal implications - lawsuits and fines and such. Depending on you isp/domain host, even the hint of a copyright challenge (this is more common in University communities) may be enough to get services suspended. I like blogging. I like access to the internet. I don't like being tangled up in legal procedures. I really don't like paying unnecessary bills for legal services.

But there is also the spirit of copyright. Not only do copyright laws at a federal level protect fair use (see here), but people can choose who they want to share intellectual property with while retaining ownership via variations of the creative commons license. How awesome is that? There are a whole group of people who are happy to share what they've made. Now I understand that there's a large segment of the population that makes a living from the images they've created, and they want to maximize revenue/profitability. This blog is a hobby, and I prefer the content to fit squarely within a like-minded community.

'Fair-use' as a challenge
I like (healthy) challenges. I like seeing how I respond to new and unexpected situations, learning and personal growth. Per EFF:
uses that serve a different audience or purpose are more likely fair
isn't this what blogging is all about? Taking inspiration from the world and making it one's own? Even if only to say "I tried X and did/didn't like it because ...". So the challenge here is to be original. got it.

Can you reuse content from this blog, "Random Musings"?
Absolutely! I do ask that you: (1) attribute the author (me) in some way (2) share any derivations freely and (3) don't make money from the content directly. This is probably overkill for the quality of "stuff" on this site, but oh well. Just remember that any content from a 3rd party is subject to their choice of copyright.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

If you are interested in reproducing my work in a commercial setting (e.g. a monetized blog), please contact me directly (rbbrducky26 'at' gmail 'dot' com) for permission. It will not unreasonably be withheld.

Any other reasons for dropping Pinterest?
Yep. I get annoyed clicking thru a bunch of repins - usually in hopes of seeing a tutorial or additional pics - only to find that it was a google image search. Sometimes there are so many repins that I give up. Pinterest also strips metadata from the original image. The argument is that the links and Pinterest interface is substantially transformative (see here for discussion). While that may be absolutely correct (i.e. legal) from the perspective of Cold Brew Labs, the ToS requires that I personally take responsibility for respecting copyrights of anything on my boards and grant Pinterest the right to reproduce/republish content for profit, rights I don't always have access to. Since I do have the ability to support fair-use in the scope of this blog, Pinterest becomes a problematic approach to sharing inspiration.

It appears that Pinterest *has* changed terms of service, (see here for a discussion). The new terms are better, but still place the onus on individual users to take responsibility for ensuring that copyrights are being followed (and pay for Pinterest's legal services). Under the new TOS (which took effect yesterday), my statements above hold as long as I only pin from my own pics, which kinda defeats the purpose of an inspiration board, no? The private boards look promising (if it's private, it's not publishing) - fingers crossed!


  1. I agree, if you're only pinning your own pictures, then what's the fun in that? However I wonder, if you're repinning stuff already on pinterest, could you be held accountable or is it the person who pins it in the first place?

    Either way, all this pinterest stuff definitely isn't straight forward! The part on how you as a user agree to pay their legal fees ... wow! I would be curious to know if there has actually been any cases of this so far!

    1. It's my understanding that the ToS define each pin - either from source or other pinners - is a new event and I would be taking responsibility that the content is mine to share. It would take research and time to figure that out, and there are easier ways to collect and share inspirations, imo.

  2. Im there and I do love the site (when used correctly) But nothing chaps my hide like when I see my content on their without credit. Or worse, when another blog has stolen my content and posted it as their own without credit and then someone pinned it. But I really blame the blogger, not pinterest for that. I wish pinterest was better about cleaning those up when reported so I can see why there is a big outrage.

    As for their ToS, that always seemed completely crazy to me. So glad they changed it.

    1. Do you think the pinterest has any responsibility to help users identify when a shared pin has been vetted?

      Pinterest is a wonderful inspiration community which quickly loses luster if one has to personally vet repins. I figure that if I have to track down repins like I do the original ones, I might as well write a blog post or just bookmark for later inspection. There's so much creativity and inspiration (and referrals!) in the blogs I follow that it's really not value-added (for me) to include sources that aren't compliant with basic copyright laws.

  3. Pinterest definitely has a lot of stuff to figure out if it's going to survive. Why, for example, do the URLs sometimes get messed up when things are repinned? There's no reason why it should change, and if it's properly linked back to the source, there should be no copyright issues (non-lawyer speaking here, obviously). I recently started tagging all the photos on my blog with my URL, just in case the source URL data somehow gets stripped... it is definitely an odd -- and unwelcome! -- feeling, seeing your own home and work posted somewhere without attribution.

    Admittedly, I'm still using Pinterest, but not very much anymore.

    1. That is weird - I always thought that when I came across those images it was because the file was "uploaded by user" (this would be a violation of tos by the user).

      From the research I've done (also nonlaywer here), it's up to the copyright owner to determine if others have the right to use content. One exception is if reuse "substansitively transforms" said content into something new [e.g. writing a review or tutorial] and pins are still in a murky territory of case law, mostly because pinterest purportedly retains a full-resolution copy on their servers. Another exception is if reuse is in an educational/academic setting.

      Attribution is *always* expected, which is why I'm grumpy that Pinterest seems not to care one whit about the users who violate law. Instead, they have created a system where it is awkward to vet the ethics of fellow pinners.