If you haven’t heard of Pinterest you probably don’t use a computer much and won’t be reading this anyway. It’s the newest social media frenzy and is probably talked more about lately than Facebook. However, it’s talked about ON Facebook so maybe that doesn’t count.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t excited about yet another social media outlet to take up time but just like some of the others, when you are a small business owner, you need to stay on top of all the social media trends to be able to capitalize on potential business opportunities. When I started to explore Pinterest more, I actually really liked it. It’s basically like online idea boards. For years, we’ve been tearing photos out of magazines and such to use as inspiration but Pinterest just made that a lot simpler with access to a lot more content, a lot quicker.
My first thought was that that would provide a really good way to share our photos. If people like them, they can repin them and hopefully an image here and there would spread virally which could lead to a lot of potential new clients visiting our website.
So, I created an account and started uploading what I thought were some of our better photos so that other Pinterest users would have the option to repin them. However, I received a note from another photographer who was actually really helpful. She explained Pinterest etiquette and explained that it’s not really meant to just promote your own work. Rather, you are supposed to find inspiration in what other people have posted and then “repin” that. From a business standpoint, that didn’t seem to have a lot of value for me as I’m really not interested in spending time promoting other people’s work. However, when I thought about it more, I got really confused. If nobody is supposed to upload their own content, where does the content come from?
Before I get too far into this, let me put a disclaimer out there and say that I now really like Pinterest and I think the person that created it is a genius if it weren’t for some of the issues outlined below:
My wife explained the concept of the Bookmarklet which is a handy code that you can save as a bookmark on your web browser. On pretty much any page you go on the internet, if you see a picture that you like, you can click the bookmark and it brings up a dialogue box that shows you EVERY photo on that page and asks you which one you want to pin to one of your boards.
I quickly realized that content is basically coming from anywhere on the internet and NOT from other people posting things they want other people to share.
In other words, people are taking photo, images, drawing, and pretty much any type of image file from anywhere on the internet without any consent and then posting it on Pinterest to share with everything they are connecting with.
That didn’t really sound legit however…for me, I still liked the idea. I WANT people to pin and repin the content that is on our website because our photos are watermarked so people can see who took them. However, most of the content on Pinterest is NOT watermarked and many of the photos don’t link back in any way to the original content provider which essentially means that intellectual property is being stolen and reposted without the awareness or consent of the content provider.
If Pinterest worked the way that I originally thought it did where people post things and then others can repin that content, there would be no issue because the original content provider is essentially granting access for the sake of sharing the content. However, when photos are lifted from anywhere on the internet, this brings up new issues and the potential for copyright violation lawsuits.
This is forefront in my mind because over the last month, I’ve had to have an attorney send cease and desist letters to two different photographers who had stolen images from me that they were using for their own advertising. One photographer had taken an old image that I had online that was not watermarked and she was using it as her own to advertise a photo promo she was running. Another photographer had stolen one of my most popular and most widely recognized images, cropped out my logo, and posted it on his blog with an article about why people should hire HIM for wedding photography. In these cases I fought for my copyright. Since both of those images had not been registered with the copyright office, suing either of those photographers is really not a viable option as any winnings may not even cover attorneys fees. However, if those images HAD been registered with the copyright office, that could lead to lawsuits in 5 and 6 figures.
Here are just a few excerpts:
By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.
Ok, well that is basically saying that you are giving Pinterest the right to use whatever images you post in whatever manner they choose on the site. Again, that’s not a big deal as long as I’m providing watermarked images. I want them to be used as much as possible in as many places as possible as long as there is a link back to MY site. But what about if I repin something from the internet that I never had the right to give them access to in the first place? Check this out:
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.
That is followed later by this:
You agree not to do any of the following:
• Post, upload, publish, submit, provide access to or transmit any Content that: (i) infringes, misappropriates or violates a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy;
Again, you are agreeing that you have the right to the images when you pin something. Then in two different areas they are basically telling you that if you violate copyright in any way, that’s on you and if you get sued…that’s on you.
Cold Brew Labs will have the right to investigate and prosecute violations of any of the above to the fullest extent of the law. Cold Brew Labs may involve and cooperate with law enforcement authorities in prosecuting users who violate these Terms.
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SITE, APPLICATION, SERVICES AND SITE CONTENT REMAINS WITH YOU.
People sue for everything and if you steal their intellectual property rights, you can really make someone angry. I use Pinterest for SEO purposes. We started to at least somewhat keyword some of the images we’ve been uploading because if people find my images they can get back to my site. However, what if I didn’t watermark anything and then someone took my image, posted it on Pinterest and then THEY keyworded the image and it lost the link back to my website which seems to happen with a lot of Pinterest photos. If that happened, then my image would be showing up on Pinterest with no link back to me at all which would actually hurt my business.
If you decide to steal images from a fashion magazines website and those images were registered for the copyright office, would it be worth the potential lawsuit for the sake of an inspiration board?
I think not.
I’ve deleted my boards until this gets resolved. Again, please don’t take this as me NOT liking Pinterest. I think it’s a great idea but it needs to work the way I initially thought it did where members either post their own content or website owners opt-IN to allow their content to be used.
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