Sunday, April 01, 2012

My two cents worth on the subject.

Pinterest. That's the subject.

Have you discovered the wildly popular online pin board service yet? When I first heard about it some months back it seemed like such a great idea—a place to "pin" all those wonderful, interesting, inspiring things that one runs across while surfing the net. Stuff you want to keep track of—somehow. I used the "bookmark" feature on my browser, of course, but a long, unsorted list of urls is pretty unwieldy. Then I just started creating folders that had photos I wanted to keep for reference, and urls of ideas and tutorials I might someday want to look at again. Then along came Pinterest and made it all so easy and organized and with a visual interface that showed you exactly what you had saved. Perfect. So, I saw it as helping us all do what we were already doing, but in a really well designed way. And—since it was all stored online, instead of on one's own hard drive, you can share it.

But it is blowing up, maybe. There is a lot of talk and opinion about what the copyright ramifications are. Some see it as clear copyright infringement. Some people are now saying that even though they have posted their photos online, for anyone to see, they do not want them pinned onto a Pinterest account. In case you're not familiar with Pinterest, this is what a Pinterest page looks like. This is mine.

Each of those squares is a category "board" and you can see one large and several small thumbnails of photos "pinned" on the board. I don't pin a lot of things. You can see that three of my boards have nothing on them. If you want to see it closer up, I think you can look just by clicking this link .

It may, indeed, be a copyright infringement to re-post other people's photos. I guess that remains to be seen. For me, it seems that re-posting on Pinterest is harmless. The photo is already on the internet. By pinning, you are posting it on the internet. Same/same? Seems like it to me, but not to everyone. People are starting to put notices on their blogs saying they do not wish their photos to be pinned. And I will certainly respect that. For the record you may not re-post my photos and say that they are yours. You may not take my photos and print them on T-shirts (or coffee mugs, or, or, or...) and sell them without my permission. You may not make a quilt identical to one of mine and enter it into a show or sell it and say it was your original design. (If you want to copy for your own enjoyment, knock yourself out...) But, if you want to pin it to your Pinterest board, that's fine with me. I do hope you'll give me credit and link it back to my blog.

Interestingly, it is possible to search and see who has pinned my photos. Fascinating. It is informative to see just what seems to grab people. Here is one screen of images pinned from my blog onto other people's Pinterest boards.

This tells me that my recent quilt with the hearts resonated with several people. Also my "Deep in the Forest" tree and my other tree, the "Sheltering Tree" piece. Just in the past week two people have pinned the beginnings of my campfire quilt. I wanted to leave a message and say, "not yet! It isn't finished!"

Scrolling back a bit I see  the deep forest tree was still popular and several people picked up on my little folded gift box tutorial and were interested in the finger lights I bought in Houston.

This is great information! It is also gratifying and flattering.

Maybe I am missing the big threat. Maybe I am just too trusting of people's motives, but until someone explains it to me in terms that make sense, or someone rips me off in some unexpected way by means of Pinterest, I remain a fan. I hope Pinterest can survive the critics and the legal questions. I think it is a brilliant idea.


  1. I'm with you on this one. I'd rather spend my time creating new things over worrying about how someone might use one of my photos. I think that once I share a digital photo I really don't have a lot of control over it anymore.

  2. My sentiments, exactly!!

  3. Terri, I agree with you! I have see your pieces pinned several times and they always give you credit and they link back to your blog. Good exposure I think.

  4. I was okay with it until one "pinner" (with over 18,000 pins, she seemed to have no life of her own) pinned an image of one of my more complex hand stitched pieces on a board entitled "Sewing even I could do!" without attribution, btw.

    I though I would stroke out! I went through the complex and lengthy process of filing a complaint and ultimately she removed the image down. Now, I just don't go looking. The aggravation was not worth it.

  5. I just haven't been able to get into Pinterest. I probably should--it looks like a good way to be the junk-collector that I am without actually adding to the clutter of my house. [BTW--I love those finger lights--would love to find one for myself!]

  6. I agree with you, absolutely, and frankly it is not copyright infringement unless the person pinning the work is somehow benefitting from the work (say, direct sales, claiming it is their work and thus increasing the status of other work, etc.) However, pinning, when done as instructed, links to the original source, so the only way for someone to commit copyright infringement on Pinterest is to do so knowingly, and then they can just be pursued under established copyright law, and it frankly does not mean Pinterest is at fault. Problem is, copyright is a civil matter, not a criminal one, which means legal fees are paid by the parties involved, so even if you are in the right you can be bullied into backing down, and in the case of Pinterest, they simply don't want to pay the legal fees and so have legally passed on that responsibility to you, the pinner. Until a case is actually made and brought to conclusion the legal grey area will still exist regarding Pinterest. (I only know all this because I did a lot of research on copyright when I school I attended made a mural which used copyrighted characters in an absolutely legal fashion, but the owners of the characters were not happy, threatened legal action, and since the school couldn't afford legal fees had to remove the (legal!) mural.) I am still going to pin things, but I am careful to check where the pins came from too.

  7. We all know that once ANYTHING we put on The Internet we loose all control of what happens.
    If one does not want others to 'use' our contribution keep it to one's self.
    hugs for you Terry

  8. Terry could you explain how you found which of your images had been pinned?

  9. This looks like just another way to store things you never look at again. Like the huge files I have of pictures torn from magazines. I thought I "needed" then for ideas, collage etc etc. Now, I sort thru them and wonder what the hell I was smoking.

    A coworker took a picture of one of the little bonsai that I added moss to. It has a life of it's own now and has been pinned and repinned so much that we have lost track of it. I bet that images of mine are on the sites. I just don't know about it.

    My coworker says this would be good "advertising" for my blog--I would increase readership. Did that happen with your blog?

  10. Yay, Terry! (Enough said!!)

  11. it puzzled me too, because the original links are there for all to follow.

  12. I think used properly Pinterest is absolutely fine, or at least I did until I found an image of one of my pieces of work pinned to a board titled "Gifts to Make". It was quite a simple pin doll and the title and contents of the board suggested that it was OK for anyone to copy it. That wasn't my intention when I posted it on the internet! So, Pinterest is OK when the users stick to the rules, respect copyright and give correct attribution. Unfortunately, I think some users just don't understand.

  13. It's an interesting topic.... and not just our pictures and work, but movies and music too.... they say that copying is the highest form of flattery, but that changes when someone takes something you created, and then not only doesn't give you credit but suggests you can make it & use as your own idea. I use the internet to get quilting and design ideas, but always try to give credit, even if I take something and change it for my own use. I love your trees, and would love to learn your process and make something like that, but I would also want to make it my own, not just copy your quilts. Love your blog and all the pages. Your studio is fabulous!

  14. Interesting. I avoid Pinterest simply because I already spend too much time on the internet and I can see myself giving my life over completely to staring at the monitor. It is both wonderful and overwhelming. Intellectual property laws are certainly complex. Have you read the post on the Stash/C&T Publishing blogs about copyrights and quilts? Gives one much to think about, especially if you read Kate Spain's side of it. I also ran across a blog a while back of a woman who does beautiful stuffed cloth dolls from her hand drawn characters. Sharp-eyed readers recognized her drawings appearing on clothing made by a European company. The drawings on the fabric were nearly identical to the dolls. No, she didn't get any compensation or credit. Some freelance artist was paid, though. Another story comes to mind, from Not JUST a Housewife. She had a humorous photo on her own blog (illustrating the idea of a tired mom with four cranky children at the store) which was copied, without credit, recaptioned and put out there on the internet multiple times. The painful thing for her was the flood of cruel comments about the fact that she couldn't control her children and should not be allowed to have so many. She had staged the picture as a joke for her readers' amusement. I think it is hard for any of us to image how our work will be stolen and misused by others.