At the risk of sounding exactly like everyone else on the internet lately, I la-la-LOVE Pinterest. They’ve managed to make a website that is simple and beautiful and intuitive that really appeals to visual folks like me (which helps explain their 10 million+ visitors a month). Since my business (this blog and my pattern shop) is web-based — and therefore relies completely on web traffic to survive — it really amazed me recently to discover that Pinterest had become my number one source of referring traffic (and if what I’m reading on other blogs is any indication, this is true across the board for others as well). Here’s a sampling of the stuff people usually pin from my site:
As you might recall, I get touchy about other people using pictures of my kids (even if I’m inconsistent about stating it). For awhile I used to crop out their faces when I took pictures of them wearing the stuff I made for them, but honestly over the last year I’ve gotten pretty lazy about it. Then Pinterest got really big, and it started to bug me that it was now ten bajillion times easier to people take pictures of my kids and pin them. Here and there I would find pins that showed my kids’ faces, but for the most part I just decided to let it go. I figured, well, at least the pins all link back to my website. As a lame precaution, here and there I would post the words “Please do not use or pin pictures of Clementine” below pins I really didn’t want to see anywhere else. I guess I also sort of felt like “well it’s my own fault for putting this stuff on the internet in the first place,” which I know is not technically true, I do hold the copyright to all of my images and therefore have the final say when it comes to what’s done with them, but maybe you understand what I mean anyway.
So I wrote Ben Silbermann (the founder of Pinterest) an email:
Just a quick question, hopefully of clarification. Background: I have a sewing blog (http://made-by-rae.com) that features pictures of not only stuff I sew for my kids, but also, frequently, pictures of my kids wearing those handmade items. I have stated on my website that others are not to use (and often I state underneath photos that show their faces: please do not pin) pictures of my kids.
But of course the long and the short of it is that there are pictures of my kids all over Pinterest (example); it really can’t be avoided, and I understand that’s just how these things go: if I put my pictures online, they will get pinned. When Pinterest was really getting big last year, it bothered me at first, but then I felt a little better knowing that at the very least the pins all linked back to my website, so if anyone wanted to click on it they could see where they come from. It would take me such a long time to hunt them all down and request they be taken down…it just seemed like too much trouble, frankly.
I wanted to see what your policy on all this was, so I clicked around your copyright and terms pages. This particular statement bothered me:
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.
“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.”
This is the part that bugs me. I feel like this is saying that as soon as someone puts one of my copyrighted photos up on Pinterest, it now belongs to Cold Brew Labs. Is that what that is saying? Even when “pinners” are never asked to insure that the images they are pinning are really theirs to pin?
So my thought is, maybe it would be nice to have some way to block pinning on photos that are really off-limits. A wordpress widget or something that would allow someone to stop pinning on particular images. I noticed you have the link to report copyright infringement, but for me, that would mean spending hours every week going through pins from my site and weeding out the ones I didn’t want up.
Obviously I really love love love Pinterest and as a person who has a handmade business, your site has been really wonderful for me! Just wanted to figure out what’s going on with this ownership stuff, especially with my kids’ pics.
Anyway, thanks for reading. I’m really interested in your thoughts on this.
And, I kid you not, the man wrote me back in LESS THAN TEN MINUTES. I was/am still totally floored/impressed. And if you’ve ever had any contact with Ben from Pinterest, ever, you know that he is quite possibly the nicest man on the planet. I will not directly quote his words here because I have not asked his permission to do so (although if I did I’d probably have a response back before I could finish writing this post, sheeeeesh), but basically he said:
- thanks for writing
- he totally understood and appreciated the concerns
- they are reviewing the Terms of Service
- they have already introduced a little snippet of code that you can put on your website to block all pinning if you want to (found on this page, scroll ALL the way to the bottom)
- they do not currently have something that will prevent people from pinning specific photos, but are working on it
Pretty neat, right? I thought that was very nice of him to get back to me, and be so cool about it. I honestly thought I would never hear back.
So as far as I can tell, if you don’t want your photos on Pinterest, you can either a) not put them up in the first place, or b) add the code to block pinning to your website, c) report specific photos for copyright violation, or d) wait for them to introduce something that will prevent folks from pinning specific photos.
I find all of this very very fascinating. Anyway, I thought you guys might find it interesting or even useful too! While I’d love to see them change their terms (honestly I’d just be glad to know that my photos don’t automatically become Pinterest’s as soon as they are pinned) and add a function to be able to block specific photos from being pinned, sometimes it’s just nice to be heard, you know? I’m a pretty simple creature I guess.
What do you think about all this?