Why I don't want my photos "pinned" on Pinterest
Many of you are fans of Pinterest and maintain numerous boards containing "pinned" photos you find on the web. But I don't want even one of my photos on Pinterest. Until Wednesday night, there were about 100 of my photos and probably more on Pinterest, all pinned without permission (and a few without credit). Pinterest removed the images after several email exchanges, in which I provided specific links to each individual photo.
Over-exposure is bad for business
I receive no benefit whatsoever from having my photos displayed on Pinterest boards. Contrary to popular belief, Pinterest doesn't drive traffic to my blog or to my website. And I firmly believe that too much exposure is bad for business. If you see the same image 50 times in random places, it begins to lose its impact and financial value.
The internet rapidly is becoming over-saturated with images, making the unusual and exotic seem unremarkable and commonplace. I want to choose the places and publications where my photos appear; I don't want them "pinned" randomly on glorified community bulletin boards, alongside dozens of other images of varying quality.
Section 107 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) includes this passage examining a factor in determining "fair use" of an individual's work: "...The effect of the use upon the potential market
for, or value of, the copyrighted work." Accordingly, copyright law provides that the copyright holder decides who uses their images and any fee to be charged.
Yet Pinterest is - by its very nature - undermining respect for copyright protection. And online infringement of copyrighted images appears endemic. This "theft by stealth" undermines the market for legally-licensed images and undercuts fees for professional photography. While Pinterest continues to grow, develop its business model and secure more funding, it needs to do a better job of communicating copyright issues to its (reportedly) 28 million users. And Pinterest users should take heed of its Terms of Service!
Efforts to protect copyright
For over a year I've tried to stop my photos from being "pinned." I reluctantly put Pinterest's "do not pin" code on my blog (akin to locking my door to prevent burglary). I've wasted hours of my time and energy compiling links to every individual photo I can find and providing said links to Pinterest staff, asking the images be removed.
Last weekend I was forced to delete my 500px photography account, as there seemed no foolproof way to stop those images being grabbed for Pinterest. It is unreasonable that I have to spend so much time and effort - and delete a separate showcase for my work - because of multiple instances of copyright infringement on Pinterest.
Since writing my first piece in December, 2011 about copyright issues with Pinterest, the over-use of images on Pinterest, Indulgy and the like prompted my decision to prevent my photos from being used anywhere without permission. Whether you like it or not, pilfering a photo is the same principle as swiping a record or grabbing someone's manuscript. It's my original work - not yours - and you don't get to decide what to do with it.
I wouldn't presume to visit your office (virtual or real) and remove something from your desk for my personal use. I wouldn't take the play you've written or the dress you've designed and use them however I like. That would be stealing! So why do so many people stubbornly cling to the misguided notion that if a photograph is posted on the internet, it's free??!!
Google aggregation of images
Of course it's not just Pinterest at fault for pushing photographers to be ever-vigilant about unfair use of images. Despite lawsuits by photographers' groups, Google's search engine grabs images from blogs in scaled down "thumbnail" size, then links to them full size, with the tiny disclaimer tagline "Image may be subject to copyright."
In the Perfect 10, Inc. vs Amazon.com, Inc. and Perfect 10, Inc., vs. Google cases, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that scaled/thumbnail images used in a Google Image search engine constituted fair use. The court said that Google transformed the images from "a use of entertainment and artistic expression to one of retrieving information," citing the similar case Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corporation.
Unlike Pinterest, Google lacks ability to scrutinize its content. Pinterest's control over its own content makes it responsible for monitoring copyright infringement - particularly as photos copied are a "mirror image" of the original copyrighted photographs. Under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, this is not considered fair use!"Copyright law protects the fruits of creative efforts, called "original works of authorship" in legal terminology. A copyright owner enjoys the exclusive right to reproduce the work, distribute it, display or perform it and to create derivative works from it, as well as the ability to transfer any or all of these rights. Copyright protection generally lasts for 70 years beyond the death of the original author. Copyright's purpose is to stimulate the production of creative works by giving authors a financial incentive to create new works. Examples of copyrightable works include blog posts, photographs, videos, podcasts, news articles, musical compositions and computer software." - The Citizen Media Law Project
Every time I search - here on a Paris board - I find more of my photos.
My Marie-Antoinette-related photos were "pinned" on at least three Pinterest boards.
Some images "pinned" from my 500px account; sadly, I was forced to delete it, due to rampant Pinterest "pins."
This "pinner" gave someone else credit, even though my watermark is clearly visible on the photo. Ask permission before you "pin" someone else's photo. It's a small courtesy that can save all concerned from future legal problems.