Funny thing about the Internet there is always some new site or technology or comes along that scares the pants off photographers. Enter Pinterest the latest site to get photographers up in arms about copyright infringement, image theft and wasted marketing efforts.
What is a Pinterest?
Pinterest is a social media site that you create a virtual pinboard to share and reshare items online that you like. You can share products, blog posts, images, artwork, etc. In a nutshell its a creatively packaged visual bookmarking site.
What are the concerns?
- Images that are shared on Pinterest are duplicates and hosted on Pinterest versus the site they were found on.
- Image thumbnails are pushing the boundaries of accepted norms and can be up to 600 pixels wide (horizontal image) or 900 pixels tall (vertical image).
- The demographic of Pinterest users is not for photographers and it’s wasted time and effort.
- The terms of service is a rights grab
Why the Concerns are Over Blown
- The Interent revolves around sharing images, so to worry about Pinterest repackaging search results or bookmarks into Pinboards is a serious waste of time. Before the first modern web browser, Mosaic, there was Lynx a text based web-browser that I had the unfortunate privilege of using back in the day. If you’re not familiar with Lynx that is because the Internet sucked when you could only browse content by text and likely the reason you were never on the web to begin with. Being able to browse and view images and other media types have made the Internet attractive to a broader audience after all we’re visual creatures. The nature of the Internet is to share duplicated files. This happens every second of the day via social media sites, RSS, blogs, etc. Digital copies are how the Internet works. As long as a company is using images to display content, respecting copyright of the artists, as they go about creating their community, then photographers should be a little more flexible and realize bookmarking via pinboards is in essence a referral system.
- Several years ago there was a legal challenge filed against Google by a porn site where copyright infringement was claimed because thumbnails of images were shown. To make a long story short the courts upheld the ability of Google to display thumbnails in search results as they felt the work was transformed enough to warrant it and likely would fall under Fair Use. No where was there a determination of what size constituted a thumbnail and the major factor swaying the finding was how the content was framed. Was the content hosted on a server (server test) or was it visually incorporated (incorporation test) to direct people to servers Google couldn’t control? How Pinterest would fall out on this I have no idea and frankly no one will until a judge weighs in and there is a legal fight over it. So bottom line how big the thumbnail is really is a non-issue, but whether Pinterest would be able to claim fair use of its duplication of images is to be determined. If you’re on the fence to wait years to see how the outcome of this challenge that may never happen turns out I’ll be seeing you in my rear view mirror as I motor past you promoting my services.
- Pinterest demographics are predominantly female (82%) and between the ages of 25-54. Is that your target audience? Will the audience expand to other demographics and is Pinterest a waste of time to photographers?
A short story… I joined Twitter early and didn’t see the value in it. I quit Twitter and didn’t revisit it for several months as the demographic and seemingly generic functionality of the site seemed like a complete mismatch. It wasn’t until later that Twitter’s value clicked for me and the population of users completely transformed over time. Needless to say I find Twitter to be of great use as the community using Twitter helped shape it over time (hashtags, @replies, etc.)
It’s early for Pinterest so to rule it out as a waste of time for photographers is premature to say.
Moral of the Story
Photographers need to look beyond their own nose when it comes to social media web sites and copyright concerns. I’ve written about a fair number of photography rights grabs here on my blog and there have certainly been cases where there have been egregious violations of copyright that photographers should have been concerned about. By and large Pinterest has not proven to me they fit in that category. In addition social media web sites and the Internet as a whole are great tools to be exploited by photographers. Don’t be afraid of having your work seen. If you look beyond your own nose you’ll see these new tools and sites can be creatively applied to enhance your business versus kill it. Being creative isn’t just about taking photos its about creatively enabling your work to be found.
So how am I going to be using Pinterest? Check out The Dirt on Pinterest – What You Should Really Know via my Letter.ly newsletter Contagious Creativity.
A little about my Contagious Creativity and why I put it together.
In the meantime you can find me on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/jimgoldstein/
Hey Photographers! Pinterest is Not for You