Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The Pinterest "Opt Out of Theft" System

Photo-rebroadcasting site Pinterest has rolled out a meta tag that disables people stealin' your photos on Pinterest. It's a good and smart measure for the company, sure. It doesn't mean the vast majority of users aren't copyright infringers, either—but it does protect the company even further than their already totally appropriate DMCA procedures. The vast majority of people will not take advantage of this measure, which makes it seem like they are therefore de facto ceding copyright in exchange for promotion. (Although no action does not equal renouncing one's copyright, of course.) For instance, I can't imagine that we'd ever use it: denying readers the ability to share things they love makes readers into non-readers. I want people who see things here to love them and tell a friend! In that way, the web is constantly pushing people to exchange their rights for non-monetary currency. (Though what's that currency worth? While Pinterest claims "publishers we speak with are excited about Pinterest. We’ve heard that Pinterest drives a lot of traffic to their websites," we don't regularly see it turn up in the top 50 traffic referrers. Yet. Wait till Pinterest is the new Google!)

7 Comments / Post A Comment

hockeymom (#143)

What about cats?
Can we steal pictures of cats?

melis (#1,854)

Cat pictures belong to the ages.

joshc (#442)

At least Tumblr's magic bookmarklet includes a citation by default. Is that how Pinterest borrowsteals? I still haven't been invited to that party.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

I think your copyright obsession with regard to Pinterest is rather misguided. You act as if it is 1994 and somehow these are new issues that we must address. Pinterest is no more an egregious copyright infringer than is Tumblr, Facebook or Youtube. Many of the materials posted by users on Facebook and Youtube, for example, are technically copyright infringement. I am sure that the Terms of Use for Pinterest, like those of Facebook and Youtube, require users to post only original or licensed material.

As merely a conduit for user expression, Pinterest claims that it is not the publisher of the work, but merely providing the interface or "pinboard" for user communication. I am sure that Pinterest is dutiful in complying with DMCA requests and thus is no more a copyright infringer that the rest of the Internet. Furthermore, by implementing and prioritizing a comment function, Pinterest strengthens its fair use claims because commentary on the works is the central focus of the site.

Yesterday David Bry posted the "Eric B. For President" MTV Raps clip on The Awl. Did The Awl clear the use of the clip and the image from the MTV performance that was visible on your site? Of course not, because that is not how the Internet works. However, if one is to make a copyright absolutist argument The Awl would be liable for copyright infringement. Certainly, The Awl received monetary benefit from the infringing use. Thankfully, that is not the world we live in. If a commenter on The Awl was to post a copyright infringing photo in comments (I have no idea how this is done) should The Awl be liable for copyright infringement? Most likely not, if it complied with a takedown request.

You can take solace that your position is consistent with the likes of Viacom and the MPAA, but such an approach would radically stifle the Internet experience and retard one of America's few vibrant economic sectors.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Lockheed Ventura Completely disagree here. The problem is attribution. The Youtube video embed including clear denotation of the artist, the name of the piece, etc. etc. – certainly enough to backtrack it to a label, even. Pinterest images have no information except the picture itself. There is no way to tell who made it.

joeks (#5,805)

If I ran a web site, I would add that Pinterest meta tag just so I didn't have to deal with annoying "won't someone think of the children?!?" types who get all bent out of shape when someone says "fuck" on the internet.

jolie (#16)

Thank you for playing nice with Pinterest because from a purely selfish point of view it would SUCK for me to not be able to use it for my Hawlpinning. WHO WILL THINK OF THE HEINOUS DUCK CASSEROLE DISHES?!?

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