18 April 2012

Pinterest: my rant thereon

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.


Charlotte said...

It's been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I'm not creative enough on my own to make "art" without having to look at an example or pattern or what-have-you. How far does it go? Whenever I made a cupcake from a recipe online, do I have to write in the frosting where I found it? Or if I sew a bag, do I have to also sew in the lining where I got the pattern? The lines are fuzzy. Although I certainly don't agree with posting someone else's art (whether it be a photo, or a poem, etc) and claiming to be the originator. I have posted quite a few quotes and one liners on FB, not really knowing for certain who originally said it. The last thing I want to be is unoriginal. But I am sometimes a copy cat, and I think we all do it from time to time. Giving credit where credit is due is always a good idea. I liked this post.

Anonymous said...

People come to mind for the word P...I have been thinking about this as I do for the most part appreciate People; how unique each individual is, how annoying some can be, how delightful some can be; how one person can change the dynamics of a gathering for good or bad, complicated some are and simple some are, and of course the list can go on and on. Nevertheless I still like people, having a conversation with strangers is my favorite. It has always been positive except when I missed my lightrail stop one night, but then was able to sing another song with new friends. Gma S