Many of my friends have asked me when I'm going to join Pinterest, and have expressed a desire to follow me (I assume so they can mock my fashion sensibilities). I am honored at the interest, but my lack of a presence on the site is more than just my usual laziness. I have some concerns.
First, Pinterest's terms of service give me great pause. While it is very clearly not all that different from other social media sites, as the Copyright Librarian points out in that link, it frankly scares me. (So do all the other social media sites, but I can't very well just sit at home and only be connected to the non-virtual world, now can I?)
I'm not a professional artist, but I get very upset by plagiarism of all kinds. Presenting anyone else's ideas, words, or creation as your own is bad. The end. But technically, if I pin my work to Pinterest and they decide to mass market it someplace, it's NOT stealing, because I've agreed to their terms of service which gives them the right to do just that.
There have been some demands for Pinterest to change their policies, and to be fair, they have not yet acted in the way I described above, to my knowledge. But they could, in theory, and I don't like it one bit.
Now, the Copyright Librarian (how cool is it that someone likes copyright law so much that she has a blog on the subject?) suggests that it's not as simple as the protesters make it out to be: fair use law allows all kinds of pinning/copying/sharing of information, in all sorts of situations. Facebook technically owns all the photos I've uploaded there, even if I delete them. I share my work, both creative and insipid, on this blog, from whence people could, if they felt like it, steal my pictures, words, or ideas, even though I've written that mean copyright notice over in my sidebar.
At the same time, I have loads and loads and loads of bookmarked pages of inspiration: party favors, kids' clothes, stuffed creatures, paintings, handmade books, quilts, tattoos, recipes, freezer paper stencils, teacher gifts, jewelry, dollmaking directions, and on and on and on. But when I do use one as inspiration, I give credit here on the blog (or tell my real-life friends about it). So often, on Pinterest and sites like it, the original poster gets lost in the shuffle, and giving real credit becomes essentially impossible. This scares me: I want creative people to be rewarded for their work, and I want thieves to have a hard time lying about what they've made, so that the world can be transparent & good and whole. Creativity matters, and the original creators deserve better than this. Even if Pinterest's terms of service are never utilized as they are written, the idea of creative people potentially handing over complete ownership of their work frightens me, and I don't want to be a part of that world.
So...as far as rants go, this one's pretty tepid. I'm hesitant to get on the Pinterest bandwagon, because I don't like their terms of service. But I don't like Facebook's, either, and I'm all over that place. And I'm already essentially practicing pinning on a private level (take that, "P" day in the Blogging Challenge!) already, and it would be nice to share some of those lovely things with you, and see what you've discovered.
In the end, I guess I just want us all to play nice. Make sure the original creator is linked to your pins, as far as you can reckon. And if you post your own creative work, do what you can to protect your ideas, from watermarks to hiring your own copyright lawyer.
The internet is a big place, and some people are assholes. I just wish cool online social media sites didn't have to hire assholes to write their terms.