. . . would you want someone to tell you? What I'm about to write is as pleasant as telling someone they have bad breath. I really don't know if I want to, but what if you'd really like to know? I feel some kind of obligation to whisper some possibly uncomfortable information in you ear. But first, some disclaimers:
1) I am NOT a copyright expert nor legal adviser of any kind and may very well not know anything about what I'm about to write here. If you have questions or concerns you should seek out your own legal information from an expert.
2) I am NOT passing judgement nor trying to tell anyone what to do or not do. I promise, cross my heart, stick a needle in my eye. I am not the Pinterest police and have no intentions of checking on anyone's pins except for my own viewing enjoyment (yes, I'm still sneaking peeks to feed my inspiration addiction). I truly have many questions about it all myself and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what I personally want to do with this information.
Brace yourself for a real bubble burster . . .
Pinterest, it appears, is beginning to gather a great deal of attention and criticism for widespread copyright infringement. It is estimated that 99% of what is pinned to Pinterest is done so in violation of Pinterest's own terms as well as in violation of existing copyright laws. And to make matters worse, the user agreement seems to make the user/pinner responsible and therefore the one that gets sued for infringement first if they pin things without permission or infringe upon the copyrights of others. Instead of me trying to explain this all properly, I've gathered some links to articles written about it: (if you search "Pinterest copyright" you'll find even more articles to read)
~ Pinterest's Copyright Strategy Puts the Burden on Users
~ Why I Tearfully Deleted my Pinterest Inspiration Boards
~ Not Pining for Pinning
~ Is Pinterest the new Napster?
~ Pinterst is blowing up - with cries of copyright infringement
~ Avoiding Copyright Pitfalls on Pinterest
~ What you Should Know about Pinterest and Copyright
It's a slippery slope for artists and other content copyright holders. If we give permission to pin our work/content, we are giving permission to Pinterest to not only profit from our work/content, but to do with it as they wish, essentially giving up the rights to our own work. If we don't give permission to pin our content, we're the snobby bad guys because we've rained on one of the biggest happy place parades of all time. Who doesn't love the idea of Pinterest, sharing the world's best images of the worlds' best ideas in one handy dandy easy to use place? Damn you Pinterest! (with tongue in cheek)
Ah, but maybe you're still on the "what about all the great exposure?" side of the fence. I seem to be having a hard time swinging my leg over that fence too. Of course, I'm very interested in free advertising on one of the hottest sites ever created! But if the exposure means giving up the rights to the work I could gain from in the first place, I don't know how free the advertising really is. It is a prickly pickle, this whole Pinterest thing. (say that 3 times fast)
I honestly don't know what to think, do or say about it all. I have deleted my own boards for the time being and won't pin anymore until a few more kinks are worked out. I just can't knowingly and purposely violate copyrights over and over myself. But, I am waiting and watching and praying for miracles that all will get resolved and I can happily return to the greatest (and possibly most productive) pastimes of all internet history without fear of being sued or my work being pirated by Pinterest.
Is there any way to fix all of this? I think so.
1) I think Pinterest could change their terms to protect the artist by not claiming the right to do whatever they want with what is being pinned.
2) I think Pinterest could flip things over and allow people to "opt in" rather than "opt out". In other words, encourage artists to display a button or switch where the works are originally shared that gives permission to post to Pinterest instead of forcing artists to go around writing 10 gabillion requests to remove work that they never gave permission to be used in the first place.
3) And, I think users need to be sure they are only sharing pins with direct links to the original source - no more tumblr links that essentially bypass the artist/original source altogether. There is a group starting a grassroots effort to get the word out. You can find some information on their Facebook wall here and some information on their blog here.
Before I go . . .
I promise no more "heavy" posts for a few days. And THANK YOU for your support, encouragment, good wishes, love, thoughtful comments and gracious messages regarding my post below. The path continues to be lit with the love and compassion of you all! ♥