On Pinterest

Pinterest, the virtual pinboard of inspiration, has been all the rage for awhile now. My hesitation to jump on board has been multi-fold. For one, there are hardly enough hours in the day to get what I need to get done, nor to I need yet another excuse to get lost deeper in the web than I already am. My main concern has been about crediting. I’m a huge proponent of giving credit where credit is due, and furthermore, I always and digging into information to find out who is behind a website, photo or whatever it may be. For me the story behind the image is just as interesting as the image itself.

In the past week I’ve seen so many people and organizations joining in from Design*Sponge to my alma mater and even the US Army. Like most of social media, I think one of the most interesting things about Pinterest is the various ways different groups can use the pinboards in unique and interesting ways. The possibilities are still young and developing, but it’s exciting seeing creativity in action.

I started an account awhile back, but I wasn’t sure the best way to use it. Then it hit me – it’d be a fantastic way for people to discover my Boarding Pass series in new ways. And instead of strictly being able to search for information by the person featured that week, now the content and inspiration can be cross-referenced. And most importantly, I’d be able to give credit to the source behind the image… that is until it’s re-pinned, and beyond the original website, the source information disappears into the nether-nets. I didn’t get too far into my board inspired by “Boarding Pass: Travel Journals” when I came across this Business Insider article looking at the legalities behind the site. Now I feel myself completely torn how to move forward. If it’s going to be pinned, I’d rather it go to the initial source, and I love all the inspiration and ways of organizing it for new ways of referencing, but when credits disappear, it kills me. What about you? What are your thoughts on Pinterest?

If you haven’t checked it out, you can see my first semblance of a pinboard here.

P.S. Speaking of giving credit, I’m still a huge fan of this “Giving Credit” poster by Pia Jane Bijkerk.


  • I really love having pinterest as a place to put all the great images I find and feel it’s a bit more professionally run than other image board-type websites. My two things are that if the image I’m seeing was reposted/reblogged, I try to pin from the original source so it’s properly linked. And when I pin a photographer’s or artist’s work, I always include the photographer’s/artist’s name or website (of course, I can’t control if people delete this when repinning it).

  • I was reserved about Pinterest as well. It just seemed like a another fad. And it is to some point but for me it’s become something very nice. I use it for recipes and craft ideas a lot! I like to explain it to people as a visual bookmarking tool more than anything. I’ve only been a member for about a month and I’m totally hooked and found a lot of things I had never seen before. It’s found it’s way into my daily internet routine.

  • I had just about the same hesitations as you (and seriously, I need another social media page/site/etc like I need a hold in the head, lol). But I finally joined, too, and for me, it satisfies that jones, scratches that itch, fulfills the desire to curate cool things I see on the ‘net. What I like is watching mine and others’ archives emerging, and the creativity there is in curating. It’s pretty cool!

    I just started following you. I love what I see already! :)

  • I believe it’s possible to use Pinterest as a marketing tool without pinning artwork without permission. Line up photos with permission first, and track down the original owner of the artwork before posting about it.

    As a viewer, my first Pinterest experience was trying to track down the origins of a photo. The search was a merry-go-round of pin to pin. I had all ready jotted down the source to credit. The search left me feeling frustrated with the blogger who posted the photo in the first place, not Pinterest.
    How much frustration are you willing to pass on to a viewer at your website? That’s the key question that bothers me about using Pinterest.

    I have joined Pinterest. I have pinned a few. But it will be a while before I pin again.

  • When I repin an image, I make sure that it’s properly credited and linked to the source. I didn’t start out this way. What prompted this was when I went to inspect the photo/recipe/object, 9 times out of 10, it was linked to “www.tumblr.com.” Not even to a specific user! That’s like saying you found it on Google. *headdesk*

    Anyway, I’ve been slowly going back and updating links and credit lines OR deleting the pins. At the rate images are shared online, I realize this is more of an action stating my principles rather than one that might actually help artists receive the credit they are due.

    Anyway. This all to say that I think Pinterest is pretty great. I especially love the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art (http://pinterest.com/archivesamerart/) and SF Ballet’s (http://pinterest.com/sfballet/).

  • I think it’s an interesting issue and one that will continue to be debated as more and more platforms are breaking traditional intellectual property barriers. This will become especially relevant as more and more brands develop their Pinterest presence – lord knows the legal departments on these brands are facing unprecedented territory and will have to wrap their heads around this novel maze.

    I happen to love the platform… for certain things. I don’t like that sources are getting harder to trace but I also know the demographic of the platform and I have a feeling these women (it’s made up of 95% women) don’t realize that work is essentially being stolen. For many, it’s an escape via aspirational images. Unfortunately, even dreams have a cost!

  • Hi Anne,
    I have some serious issues with Pinterest that all began a year ago when a couple of my Flickr photos started getting tons of traffic. I was able to trace it back to Tumblr & Pinterest using Google’s “Find a similar image” search option. Since then, artwork of mine has been literally pinned thousands of times without a credit to my name or website. I ended up joining Pinterest just so that I could contact people to “request” (ahem, chastise in an exasperated tone) that credit is given.

    I know that many of Pinterest’s users are teenagers who aren’t conscientious of copyright issues or the struggles of artists and designers. Or perhaps they’re brides who are just organizing their visual thoughts and aren’t interested in establishing an audience. But many, many others seem to take themselves seriously and have significant followings. Why on earth they don’t at least try to give credit to even a few pins is beyond me. Especially when Google makes it pretty easy to find a source.

    My last thought on the subject is that Pinterest needs to make efforts (how? I don’t know) to ensure that credit is made. But the problem is also a cultural bi-product of the age of everyone on the planet having a blog & memberships to a zillion social media sites. Posting other people’s work is just another casual way of expressing yourself rather than a way of promoting other people.

    Its funny that you posted this today, since I’ve spent a couple hours today watermarking all my images on my website, something I really hate to do, just to protect myself. I don’t at all mind people sharing my work, but I am determined to get credit for it since my work is my livelihood.

  • i have been on pinterest since the beta testing days and am completely addicted. i hate when things are improperly pinned, too, but not everyone is as concerned with attribution as others. (thanks for pinning my mini books!)

  • I literally just deleted my short-lived Pinterest account! I got tired of reading and worrying about all the copyright violation issues around it. Yes, Pinterest is a blast and there are so many creative ways that it would be all kinds of awesome to use … But the bottom line is that anyone pinning images for which they do not have the copyright is breaking the law. It’s that simple. There may be countless Pinterest users doing it, but that doesn’t make it okay or legal. I tried to justify my pinning with dogged documentation of each image (location, photographer, source), but in the end, after reading more on the site and how easy it makes copyright violation … I decided that I could not in good conscience continue to pin. Hopefully it will all be sorted soon, but I don’t see how people can be allowed to pin copyrighted works on a public site like this, sans permission from the copyright owners. The point actually was driven home for me via Flickr. I maintain a photo blog of other people’s images that I find beautiful or inspiring. Until recently, I exclusively blogged photos that were marked “blog this” via Flickr (i.e., permission from the respective photographer). But with Pinterest, I could pin (and blog via the Pinterest “embed” feature) anyone’s work on Flickr. Even people who had barred me from blogging their photos. This felt super shady, and I *know* these Flickr photogs would be pissed to find their work on Pinterest, and my blog, when they’d gone to the trouble to bar the blogging or downloading of their work. Anyway. Good luck to all you still pinning. Here’s hoping no one sues you (:

  • I’m with you Anne. It’s infuriating not to be able to find out who or what is behind an image encountered on the web. I’ve found this to be the case with many a Tumblr, as well. I’m also a little peeved that more people don’t seem to care to find out more about what they are looking at. Too often, the ‘nutritious’ content behind the eye candy goes unappreciated. These sites make it a bit too easy to be lazy. They should connect us to the content, not keep us from it.

  • there’s term to be aware of:

    “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. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.”

    so they don’t claim ownership, but they can do whatever they want with your content including selling them. hmmm…

  • Exactly, Lil. Which is precisely why (in part) everyone pinning things for which they are not the copyright holder is a problem that isn’t solved by dogged crediting.

    Pinterest is creating a real nightmare for photographers and other artists whose images are being pinned willy nilly.

    Lots of photographers and artists sell their work/images via stock agencies, and there are licences sold that give users permission to blog said work/images. So if people pin said work/images from other sources that have fairly paid for said use, but go and essentially steal/reuse the works on their own blogs/sites without paying … Or if Pinterest uses said works as described in the terms that Lil posted … I see a lawsuit brought by the photographers/agencies.

    The more I think about this, the bigger a cluster shag it is.

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