Pinterest – Ethical or Not?

I only heard about the controversy involving Pinterest last night.
And I’ve only just finished doing some blog surfing to find out what the issue really is.

Pinterest is an addiction for many many people. It is basically a technological/online version of a good old fashioned pinboard.

You know the one you had as teenager where you stuck pictures of your latest movie hunk, tickets from a concert, magazine cutouts of fashion, letters and photos from friends?

As far as I can tell there are two issues that are a problem for Pinterest.

1. How they earn their dosh. (personally I have always wondered how they made money – now I am a little wiser)
2. Copyright infringement for creative ‘sorts’.

1. Earning their Income

Pinterest currently or in the past, have used Skimlinks to fund their income. From all my reading, Skimlinks is a legitimate way for social media companies to earn money. I guess the implication has been that the source of their income has not been obvious and therefore has issues. (I’m still trying to get my head around it).

There are two good blog posts about this by Beadzoid and
VA Simple Services.

And these posts also give you some insight: Sea Air Arts & Vintage Susie
& Smart Meetings.

2. Copyright Infringement

This particular part of the hoohah, I understand.

Basically, when you “Pin” something you take a copy of the original idea (artwork, photography, craft, recipe, etc) and put it onto Pinterest.

Unless you have done three very important things (steps), the origin of the ‘pin’ will then be difficult to find – therefore the original artist/source will lose their work with no compensation and without having ever given permission for their work to be shared in the first place.

The three steps you should ALWAYS take when you ‘pin’, are;

1. Don’t ‘re-pin’. I know! Seems to defeat the purpose of Pinterest, but here’s why it is important.

The more often an image is ‘re-pinned’ the more difficult it is to find the original source, meaning the original artist becomes more and more detached from their work (which remember they never gave permission to be ‘pinned’).

Instead . . . click on the image and chase it back to it’s original source – this is the most ethical thing to do as you will now have the opportunity to ‘pin’ the work directly from the artist and therefore ensure a stronger bond with the source.

2. When you ‘Pin’ – you have the option to call the image anything you want. Very cool!

However, it is essential that you now include the original title. Then if anyone who is less educated, less ethical or just lazy ‘re-pins’ the image, they will be encouraged to keep the source :) You have also honoured a commitment to publicise the original SOURCE!

3. Change the title of any ‘Boards’ that have the implied use of someone else’s ideas/art to create things for yourself – instead of buying their original idea/art.

For instance, I have changed my ‘Board’ previously titled:

Too-Cool Craft Ideas


. . . to:

Craft I would Love to Buy

After . . did you notice that I also removed an unattached image?

So that’s my two bobs worth on the whole controversy.
Pretty long-winded post. Might be my longest yet.
Sorry about that :(

Keep Pinning . . . just start to think of the original source more often :)

Feel free to le the know what you think about the whole Pinterest debacle. I’d love to hear your point of view.

I will post another day about a blog I came across which really upset my creative sensibilities – about a crafter who refused to spend $40 on an item at a craft market and instead took a photo and then blogged about how she made it herself for $10.

Not impressed :(


5 Responses to Pinterest – Ethical or Not?

  1. scrappingirl says:

    Hi Pia, very interesting blog about Pinterest .. i am not ‘into’ this, but sounds very controversial at the moment.. but will be VERY INTERESTED to read your post about the “Craft Market’ crafter … HOW RUDE !!!!!!!!

    • amelied says:

      Hi Noriel

      I know, right?!?

      I was more stunned at her tone, than content. I’ll be discussing it at the end of the week. Stay tuned :)

  2. Toni says:

    I try to pin the source for recipes, craft items etc, but in reality, if the pin hasn’t been posted from someones’ actual computer, you can usually track it down anyway. It just takes a long time and a lot of faffing around, so YES — pin from the source wherever possible!
    No matter what steps Pinterest takes, there will ALWAYS be people who do the wrong thing, it’s human nature.
    There is a woman who’s posted about this, and she’s created a free button for your blog/website that says YES FEEL FREE TO PIN or PLEASE DON’T PIN, which I think is a fantastic idea.
    Of course, it’s still up to the conscience of the pinner to play by the rules!!

  3. Grafik says:

    I’m a graphic artist that creates graphic-based craft instructions. My websites have advertising, and I work everyday to create new free graphical contents for my websites. The success of this advertising is directly proportional to the volume of traffic that my websites receive. I have been living off this model for the past 9 years. For me, not to put my material “out there” isn’t an option.

    I recently found a lot of my work being pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest. At first, I was flattered that people liked my images so much. Then I saw that Pinterest was showing full-size copies of my graphics! After checking my web logs, however, my heart really sank. I saw that Pinterest didn’t bring any traffic to my sites. It may be different for other websites, but for me, Pinterest users looked at my images on the Pinterest site, and that was enough. They didn’t follow through to my site.

    Pinterest is sucking my traffic, and by extension my income, and my hard work.

    They have no right to post full-size images. I’ll accept thumbnails, as thumbnails are considered fair use (this was settled for Google Images). But full-size is not good for me.

    Pinterest is just another Wal-Mart killing the mom & pop corner store.

    Everyday, I take some time to scour the site for infringements, and file DMCA take-down notices. I am documenting this. In a few months, I hope to be able to sue them.

    • amelied says:

      You should have included a link to your site in this comment. I would have allowed it :)

      I am so impressed that you commented with a detailed argument on the issue of Pinterest. I notice they themselves, have started making more effort for the original site to be acknowledged on all pins. A LOT of pinners couldn’t see what the whole ‘problem’ was, and I think your explanation will go a long way to educating some, as to the problems of sharing without sourcing.

      I especially liked your delineation between thumb nails and full images. This is the vital!

      Good luck in the next few months. Please let me know how you go & feel free to comment back here with your website addie.

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