Saturday, March 3, 2012

Don't just take what is not yours (that rant about Pinterest)

As you know, i've been planning to do a post about the site Pinterest, a popular (or unpopular, i guess) topic on my twitter feed in the last week or so.
I don't use Pinterest. I've had an account there for a while, but i've never actually pinned anything.
Since i first heard of it, i've been a little skeptical of the whole thing, as it seemed to me like just another place to post "inspirational pictures"* without giving credit or linking to the owner of the image, and it seems that my assumption about Pinterest was actually correct.
Only, their insane terms of service makes this issue a little more serious than if it was just about people sharing our pictures without asking, but i'll get to that in a sec.

First, i feel like i need to make my position about sharing stuff online in general clear from the beginning, and although my photos don't get reposted elsewhere as often as some people's, i'll use my own blog as an example.
I am not opposed to someone using a picture from my blog on their personal blog (not including tumblrs, as re-blogging is just too easy and information gets lost along the way), as long as they ask for permission, and link back to my blog. That'd be ok.
But the thing is, my images are all over the web and i didn't put them there, and in all my years of being a blogger, i can't recall ever being asked for permission to use a photo.
So since that obviously doesn't work, i guess this is how i feel: if you like my pictures, please enjoy them. Here, on my blog, where they live. It's not unlike being in a museum (a small crappy one, but at least the entrance is free!). You can look at the stuff there (and you can come here anytime, even in the middle of the night  without even having to worry about waking me up) but you can't take it home. And if you wanna borrow, at least ask. Cause if you don't ask before borrowing something? Well, that's called "stealing" and it ain't nice.

Now, let's get to what's really wrong with Pinterest, which is their terms of service (meaning all the crazy shit you agree to without reading whenever you sign up for one of these accounts).
Mette from Ungt Blod posted this article from girlfriday on twitter, and i'd like to share some of that with you.
But it's a little long, and i can't post the whole thing here, so i suggest you just head over there and read the whole thing right away.
It's good, i promise!

"Pinterest has been around for a few years now, but has gathered considerably more steam and attention as of late. It’s a pretty fun concept. “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.” Hey, cool. With all the nifty things I find on the web, and with all of my ideas and future plans/haircuts/meals/renovations depending on it, I could use some organizing help. There’s even some pin etiquette to help get you started. Interestingly, they’re saying to avoid self-promotion. Really? Ok then. Moving on… wait. What’s this in the Terms?
“You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”

*Holds up hand* Soooo…. how can I post anything if I shouldn’t self-promote but those are the only images I actually own? How can I pin to my boards if I don’t have the rights to use the images I find on the interwebs? *Waves hand around* Is this even a sustainable business model?
It’s great that Pinterest encourages their users to credit the source (if you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ll see that a lot of images are credited to other pins, or Tumblr, or whatever other site they were copied from, instead of actually leading anywhere that would be productive to the actual creator of the image). Not to mention, Link With Love is doing an admirable job of raising awareness in this regard. And many Pinterest users are conscientious, caring people who are crediting, attributing, linking wherever they can. But there’s one thing everyone mentioned here has forgotten about:
Most, if not all, of the images you’re posting do not belong to you. You need to ask permission.
I probably should put my hand down now – my fingers are getting numb, and I don’t think anybody’s going to be able to answer my question, at least not for now. If everybody on Pinterest actually took the time to ask permission to use the images they’re pinning, would anybody still be on there? And if you really think about it, shouldn’t this already apply to all blogs, tumblrs, facebook pages, etc? I realize this is a much bigger issue that stretches far beyond the scope of this (already very long – and it keeps getting longer) post, but it’s something we should all consider on our daily internet wanderings..."

Read it all here. Really, go read it and then come back. 

Are you back? Ok then. To break it down: you shouldn't post your own pictures, cause that's self promoting, and that's bad (apparently).
So you have to post other people's pictures, but you also have to agree being the owner of those pictures and having the right to post them, which you're not and you don't.
So let's say you take one of my pictures from my blog (without asking).
By posting it you are agreeing to being the owner of this picture (which again, you are not), and Pinterest then has the right to sell and otherwise exploit my picture (what? that can't be right? uhm, yeah, if you post my picture on there, they now have the right to sell it!), and if i should decide to get angry and sue you and Pinterest for using my photo (which i won't, but you don't know that), you not only have to pay your own legal fees, but those of Pinterest's as well. Seem fair?
Oh, and unlike that other site where people blog and re-blog other people's pictures like they own them, these guys won't help you if you'd like your picture removed from their site.
With tumblr (we all knew that's who i meant, right?) you just write them an email with a link to where you first posted the picture so they can see it's yours, and usually within an hour or so, they'll have politely answered your mail and taken down the original tumblr post, as well as all the re-posts.
Pretty nice.
But, according to Young, who looked into it, Pinterest requires you to send them a letter if you want your image (again, your image that you own) taken down. A letter!

You may think i'm overreacting to this, and that having your pictures posted by strangers all over the web ain't so bad. But if i don't want my pictures posted elsewhere, it should be my right to say so.
And nobody should have the right to sell and exploit my work when i'm not even the person who's agreed to those crazy ass terms in the first place.

Seeing pictures of my tattoos** (cause it's usually my tattoos) posted somewhere without credit to either me or the artist pisses me off, and seeing pictures of my friends nieces and nephews posted on tumblr as cute inspirational pictures makes me downright furious. Cause yeah, that happens too, and that's a whole other level of getting punished for being the kind of blogger who shares their personal life with the world. Something we shouldn't be getting punished for at all, if you ask me.
I've said this before (back then it was regarding comment etiquette), but if we all have to live a big part of our lives online, as we now do, we also need to behave civilized online and don't do shit we wouldn't do in real life.
Like, you know, steal shit.

Alright, that concludes the angry rant portion of this weeks posts, i'll be back to posting nice, happy pictures tomorrow!

*Isn't it kind of amazing that as soon as you call it that, it's everyone's property? Like all of a sudden nobody even took the damn picture, the internet just made it for you so you can be inspired!

**I spent a good hour a few days ago, commenting on as many pictures of my husband's or Eckel's tattoos as i could find (most of them were without credit to the artist, of course), asking people to remove them. Cause apparently, asking some random person who posted it to take down YOUR picture, is the only option we have at the moment.


  1. thank you so much for this interesting article. in fact, you explained very well and I am getting a little angry at this site.

  2. You just opened my eyes, thank you!!

  3. Very well-written, thank you! I pin, but generally only to save stuff to look at later for my own use (not to share on my blog), kind of like a modified bookmarking.  And if I pin from a blog, I always put the address to the blog in the description and ask permission. But I can see even with being careful, given the terms and the way you've worded it above, how this can be damaging.  I appreciate you writing this post and taking the time to research...I think you'll open a lot of people's eyes.

  4. I didn't know Totoro was on your hand!  I love it!

  5. Yahhh buddy, these things are so weird. I love sharing on my own blog but it freaks me the hell out when I see my own photos in places I did not put them. 

  6. It seems very much that their business model is based solely on a scam or fraud or whatever it is that's supposed to be illegal.  Why are they allowed to operate with such false premises!?

  7. interesting points! can understand what you are saying and trying to express very clearly...

    but i would just like to point out (the photo you have displayed as an example) that your tattoo is not original art from a tattoo artist but a copy of the famous Totoro character from hayao miyazaki and studio ghibli. and actually they are the ones who hold all the rights to the totoro imagery. 

  8.  You're welcome, i'm glad you found it useful.

  9.  You're very welcome!

  10. Tak for linket :)

  11. I'm so glad you liked it, i was especially hoping to reach Pinterest users who don't know about the terms of service.
    When i created my account there, i did so because i hoped i could use it like you do, but have a private profile and private boards, and when i found out that wasn't possible, i just didn't use it. I'm still looking for a way to sort out my inspiration photos without ripping anyone off!

  12.  It's just rude not to ask.

  13.  I don't see how it's legal either.

  14. Hi "guest". Related to "anonymous" by any chance?
    I see your point too, but this photo is indeed mine, and i am not claiming the right to the Ghibli character portrayed in the tattoo, only to my photo.
    Which is what people are pinning, and by pinning, claiming to be theirs.
    And there's a lot of really interesting talk in our industry about copyright when it comes to tattoos at the moment, but that's a whole other debate!

  15. never liked pintrest and this just fuels my argument, thank you!

  16. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't actually read all of your post.  But I do think I get the gist of it and I have to question why you're telling people to not  "tumbl" or "pin" your photos yet at the same time you have link to share your post via Gmail, Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ on each of your posts.  I do agree with you that Pinterest's terms of service are suspect when it allows for them to sell your images because someone else pins an image.  Yet at the same time you've basically given license to anyone viewing your blog to share the posts with the links above and pinning a photo is not really any different than that (at least in the case where an individual pins the image directly from your site such that the pin provides a link to your blog).
    And what about the tattoos featured above?  Did you get permission to copy the image from the creators/intellectual property rights holders of "My Neighbor Totoro?"  Isn't it a little ironic to chastise others for sharing your images when you yourself are sharing an image that you did not create (and, I"m assuming, neither did the tattoo artist)?

    I do think more needs to be done to ensure that people are given credit for their work.  And people shouldn't make money off your photos, words, images, etc. without your permission (and without you making some money as well).  At the same time, we don't really need to live our lives online, especially not to the extent of setting up a blog and sharing numerous images on it.

  17. Giulia Frederica DardaniMarch 5, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    oh u are so right!!!this is a really interesting post!

  18.  Thanks Giulia, i'm glad you liked it!

  19.  There's something seriously sketchy about that company. I'm worried that other sites, like etsy, are making things too easy for them without knowing the consequences.

  20.  I'd like to chime in as well here on two things. Firstly, if you didn't read the whole thing you can't really compose a fair criticism and come off rather trollish. If you truly believe what you wrote in your final paragraph about more needing to be done so people can't make money off others' work then you agree with this post, because that was the point.

    And second, I'd like to speak in defense of blogs and sharing images and your life in a blog. Clearly Amalie doesn't live her life online! This is one small creative outlet that you see. I felt like that last little sentence was just a snide burn on bloggers. It's a whole interconnected world out there today, and sharing pictures and stories is a part of human nature. Don't knock what you don't understand.

  21. Yes, thank you for that. Sharing stories is an important part of who we are, dammit.

  22. I'd actually like to chime in here as well.
    Amelie, I read your blog pretty much every time there's a new post, and I do enjoy them quite a lot, even though I really never leave a comment.

    As a music photographer I do see this "sharing" of people's work more than I'd like to, though I do not mind people posting my photos in their blogs/site/whatever kids use now days, I do prefer them posting them from the links I provide them at my flickr, instead of just taking them and re-uploading them somewhere else.
    Normally as long as they link back to my flickr or blog there, I don't tend to mind it, even when people don't ask for permission (thou' I would prefer if people did ask) BUT, when people download those photos and edit them and crop watermarks and so on and try to pass them out as their own work, then I do tend to get quite angry at people. It seems that's it's not just "normal" people doing this now days, for the past couple of years I've had to threaten record labels and bands with lawyers as it seems that's the only thing people understand.

    So to sum this all up, people need to learn basic etiquette when it comes to "sharing" other people's work, it can't seriously be that hard to just post a little link along the pictures as a minimal thing. 

  23. I admit I was too lazy to read all of it, in part because I've read other articles about the same issues.  And there's nothing trollish about my behavior.  I'm a blogger myself and so it really boils down to being lazy and feeling I had a good idea of what it was about without reading every single little word.  

    Again, I'm not telling anyone not to blog or share their life online.  But doing so comes at a cost.  All I was saying is that it's not a necessity to blog and share your life in that way, it's a choice.  

    And I did openly state that I agree with certain portions of the post.  But I also do find it hypocritical to be upset about other people doing as they please with your works when you do the exact same thing.  If the post and its opinions were directed solely at Pinterest and its terms of service, I would have probably agreed wholeheartedly and not felt the need to say anything.  But it definitely goes beyond that and I disagree with some of the stuff external to the Pinterest issue. 

    Just a random guy's thoughts on the topic is all.

  24. Thanks for reading my blog, comments or not, i appreciate it a lot.
    Sorry your work is being shared a little too much. You'd think that it would be easy when all you're asking for is for them to link back, but apparently not. And people who crop watermarks off are the absolute worst!

  25. Me sharing my own work on twitter, or one of my readers sharing a full post from my blog with their friends on facebook is not exactly the same thing as some stranger taking a picture from a blog and posting it on Pinterest without my knowledge or consent.
    "The exact same thing" would be if i actually had a tumblr or pinterest account where i posted inspirational pictures with no source all day long. That would be the same. I did my best to explain that in my first reply, but after this, i give up.

    It's certainly your right to disagree with me, i'm more than fine with that, but if you're gonna call me a hypocrite, please find somewhere else to do it.

  26. I and any other person could easily share your blog on Pinterest in the exact same way as on facebook or twitter.   I could share a picture from this blog or any other on Pinterest and when that picture is clicked on it will then lead directly back here.  Same for sharing on tumblr.  Just like when I share a link on facebook to many blogs or articles, I can choose a picture from that link to include with my post and it will link to said post.  People can of course get around that by linking to just the picture on Pinterest without linking back to you (and I think we both agree that's lame).  

    Also, I could share your blog on twitter or facebook without your knowledge or consent, unless you're implying that by including the sharing buttons above you will have knowledge when it is done and thus consent to it.  But even in that situation, it's possible to share your posts/work on facebook and twitter without using those sharing buttons.  And someone could save one of your photos and post on facebook as their own...and facebook will then claim rights in it in the exact same manner as Pinterest.

    Trust me, I'm not here to troll or name call.  I just find this to be an interesting conversation, although from the sound of it you're not interested in actually considering varying points of view.  And you don't have to consider them nor do I or anyone else have to express them.  Thanks for taking the time to respond to any of this, it's been interesting.  Hopefully these issues get sorted out and, similar to as someone else commented, people have the decency to share things with some internet etiquette.

  27. you are wanting people to credit/link to your blog when they repost your photos so in that regard you should have a credit beside your tattoo (actually tattooed into your skin with) listing: 1. hayao miyazaki's name 2. studio ghibli trademark logo 3. the tattoo artists name. then everyone gets the 'credit due' that they deserve and you are not making out that it is your own original art. this is just an example to show that you need to practice what you preach. IP is a huge topic and something i find very interesting. in this blog post you are just focussing on one realm of IP that bothers you personally. if you have such strong feelings about it, you should stay consistent with those view points across everything in life. IP is bigger than just what is happening with pinterest! to disregard the bigger picture of IP makes the point you are trying to make just... superfluous. Bob is making complete sense and i am so glad he has made his points clear repeatedly. don't be surprised that you get comments that don't always totally support you 100%. we do support and understand what you are saying but we are just opening it up to the bigger picture of IP. just be prepared for people to express their opinion and don't take it as a personal attack. i used 'guest' as that is what is in the box - i am not a bad person for doing so and don't see the relevance of using a name (i could use my real name or make one up for that matter) my post would be no different. FYI before posting i filled out my email address which is my legitimate email account, i have no shame in what i am saying. i am a graphic designer and craft artist who does not have a fb account, blog, pinterest account, website or participate in any social networking sites. so be rest assured i don't participate in the reposting of your photos. i just love reading blogs and in particular am very interested in reading yours :) i hope you continue to blog in the future and hope that people do credit your photos if they repost them.

  28. Whoa, that's a lot of "could's"!
    Yes, people can easily share my blog, which i believe i mentioned in a comment somewhere above, i am actually, for the most part, fine with.
    It's taking pictures out of context and posting them somewhere with ridiculous terms of service i am opposed to. I'm aware that facebook has similar terms, and that is why i am not on facebook.
    I could write a lot more about how sharing something on twitter is not the same as sharing something on Pinterest, but that should be clear to anyone who's visited both websites, so i'm gonna skip that, and just say that i know that i can never fully control where my pictures end up. Some of them are gonna end up on pinterest again, i'm sure, and the way the company is set up at the moment, there's very little i, or anyone else,  can do about that.
    I just really want for people to think before they post, and i think (or hope) that maybe a few people will after reading this.
    I do have a pinterest block code on my blog, by the way, which i hope will discourage a few people from sharing that way, but the only way to make sure that no one downloads your pictures and shares them anywhere, is to not post any pictures at all. And as a blogger with a lot of love for photography and sharing, i am obviously not about to do that.

    About me not being open to considering other points of view, i like to think that i am. But it sure as hell depends on how they are presented.
    You stumbled upon this blog and decided to post quite a long, critical comment without having read the post! Yes, i am still stuck on that, cause i can't imagine any situation where i would post a comment on someone's blog, negative or positive, without having read the entire post. It's like butting into someone else's conversation and start arguing with them without having heard more than a snippet of what they're talking about.
    So yeah, while i'd like to think that i am open to other people's opinions, or at least i try my hardest to be, i simply don't enjoy arguing just for the sake of arguing.
    If this conversation had started out with you reading the post (and the post it linked to), i would have probably taken your arguments a lot more seriously to begin with, and this could have been a very different discussion.

    But at least we can definitely agree on hoping that these issues will be sorted out, and if not, that people will get better at that whole etiquette thing.

  29. Susanne Therese JuhlMarch 6, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Hmm ... I posted a comment several hours ago! I wonder, why it doesn't show?