If Emily Posted: Safety Pins

The conversations about whether Pinterest is acting as pusher in a sea of potential copyright infringement issues have been incredible. For the most part it assures me of what I truly believe: people don’t set out to do the wrong thing, and most, upon learning they are, want to know what they can do to fix it.

I am writing this at the same time many others are asking similar questions, and in the last several days, Pinterest offered some additions to their site, like coding to add to make your site un-pinnable. For some, I think this is a great thing. But those who like Pinterest and want to be able to share our original content with permission, we need other options.

For now, a SAFETY PIN seems as good a solution as any.

don't save this one - it's going to send a double message

Since most people can install a widget, it doesn’t require coding that must be added to every page of one’s site. Simply choose the one that fits your needs at the bottom of the post and place it somewhere highly visible on your sidebar. While it doesn’t guarantee that people will honor the “thanks but no thanks” option, I think that it’s a start. (To add a SAFETY PIN to your site, simply click one of the images at the end of the post and save. I don’t know if I’ll ever say that again. But please, right click and save this one.)

The battle that is being waged about copyright and credits on Pinterest is complicated. While I believe in the importance of copyright and defend it, I am all for the ability to share and learn from one another online.

Sharing isn’t stealing. The two are not mutually exclusive. And proper credit is crucial to keep one from becoming the other.

I’ve had my work misused because it wasn’t properly credited. Copyright issues aside, what I found must unsettling with each situation was the lack of attribution. In one instance, after a photo of mine was published without consent, the publishers were quick to remind me it would bring me exposure. I had to remind them that if they googled the name credited, no one would find me. If the person who had taken my work and used it had at least credited my name properly I could have seen a silver lining in it. But improper credit = no exposure. Lose, lose.

I read comments on various posts written about the issues of copyright and credit online. When people, many sharing the surname Anonymous, write that you shouldn’t be online if you don’t want your work seen, I worry. Not so much about the work, but about the misinformation these Anons perpetuate.

In the last decades we’ve watched digital replace analog. The days of mix tapes are over. And so are the bad quality of a fourth generation copy of a movie. Piracy is crisp and clear on CD and DVD.

Still, the film and music industry continue to create and sell their work. And people buy it.

So, please do not tell me I don’t get it. There are plenty of people happy to play by the rules.

I am all for sharing. That’s what we do online all the time. But what I share and what someone does with what I share are two different things.

From country to country copyright issues vary, the idea of Fair Use is defined differently – these legal issues cannot be answered simply and tied up in a pretty box with a bow. But the issue of giving proper credit is simplistic in comparison. Use what you have permission to use, and make sure anything to share is credited to the original source. If you don’t have those things, bookmark it the old fashioned way. xo a.

A quick question: When you see corporations and companies creating Pinterest boards featuring their content, do you think that mans they’re telling us we can repin with their permission? I’m looking into it with several brands now but just thought I’d ask your POV.

16 thoughts on “If Emily Posted: Safety Pins

  1. Maxabella

    At least Pinterest pins directly back to the source. It’s when people don’t attribute a source that it bothers me. Weheartit is the absolute worst but only because people grab images for their tumblr accounts with no regard for where they came from.

    I always try to track down a source for every image I use. When I can’t I add a note at the bottom of the post saying where I found the image and asking for the author to let me know if it’s theirs. I don’t know if that’s enough… but it’s what I do. At least if someone sees their image they can track back to where their source wasn’t noted.

    On the internet it’s really, really hard to know what’s what. I guess we don’t think of our blogs as using anything for ‘commercial use’, so is it any different to cutting out a pic in a magazine and pasting it on the front of your exercise book? I’m not sure!

    Pinterest is an interesting one because all you’re really doing is creating a noticeboard of stuff you like. If it’s just little old me making the board, is that different to me creating a manual one using cut outs and cards that I put up in the school hall? Again, I’m not sure!

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.


    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      Unfortunately, Pinterest doesn’t pin back to the source, only the place where you pinned it from. That person may have taken it from elsewhere.

      I think it’s great that you look to source what you pin, but there is a difference between pinning and keeping pages of a magazine at home. There’s nothing illegal if you tear a page from a magazine. But if you took that magazine page, scanned it and placed it online, you would be reproducing something that isn’t yours. The legal issues here are complicated. The credit one is simpler.

      Thanks so much for reading!

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      Thanks! I hope this can help us bridge a gap, and make bloggers take accountability for their content. Because if they’re using material that’s not theirs and giving permission, it’s not going to fall on the pinner’s shoulders, I hope.

  2. Ally

    I think that yes, if a company, I’m thinking of a paper crafts company in my head, makes a pin board with their images on them, I can only assume that they want me to repin and use them.
    As you stated in your earlier post, Pinterest is bringing people TONS of traffic, but that is thru the use of repinns.
    At this point in the game, I believe that those companies are aware of how and why Pinterest is used and they are capitalizing on that market.
    This may not be true for smaller artisans and small companies, but I know for example, big companies like Levi’s, are using Pinterest to generate interest in their product and aren’t as worried about losing market share or profit as they are already a big name player.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I’m happy to see companies adding boards and/or the Pin It button as it solves the mystery as to whether they permit pins. Credit and permission are the key to fixing most on issues, I think.

  3. Stacey

    If it isn’t the implication of joining, Pinterest better find a way for corporations to block repinning all together, not just from the user’s site with code in their page templates.

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  5. Brandi

    I had just read an article on this subject and I have decided to drop pinterest as a site I use (didn’t use it that much anyway). However I’m still deciding how I want to handle my blog/store. These little widgets may be quite useful thanks so much.

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