Monday, July 30, 2012

The Words "Pin It," A Copyright Infringement?

pin it button
Has istockphoto declined this image
in fear of infringing on Pinterest's trademark?

An istockphoto contributor has reported that one of his images was refused by the photo licensing site:
A few days ago I received a message about was deactivated a photography file with the phrase "Pin It" written in a paper. [...] I really don't understand why the phrase "Pin It" creates risk of infringement of copyright
A representative of the agency was cryptically tight-lipped about the reasons:
You'll be better off talking to Scout than you will the forums. [...] Please open a support ticket for further assistance.
Whoever knows what role Pinterest has, or doesn't have in this, isn't talking.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Exploding Heads

In her blog post Copyright Laws and Why My Head May Explode, "jediane9," after reading about Roni Loren's financial settlement with an unnamed photographer for displaying his photo on her blog without permission, bemoans "copyright trolls."
Larger companies actually hire people called “infringement trolls” to scope the web looking for photos used without permission. And really, all those infringement trolls have to do is go to Pinterest, because that site is about 99% copyright infringement.
It's always the same arguments. Victims of copyright infringement are vilified; they're supposed to be nice, and write a polite note asking for the infringing material to be removed. Infringers don't understand that the majority of photographers/artists will, in fact, rarely experience the need to go beyond a polite request or a DMCA take-down directly to the web host. Once the search for copyright infringements and serving of take-down notices becomes an onerous, repetitive and time-consuming task taking too much away from their creative efforts, they will start thinking of using the citizen speed trap that copyright laws allow them to use. That is, ask for cash compensation.
But if you post a photo of something you like, even go so far as to credit and link to the original source, how is that a bad thing? You’re not gaining anything from it, and I don’t think (re: I’m totally not sure) the artist is losing anything from it. If anything you’re helping promote their art, right?
Here we go. The "it's non-commercial use!" - "artists aren't losing!" - "but I gave proper credit!" and "it's great promotion!" mashed together in one paragraph. This exemplifies what people just don't get. It embodies the four tenets of copyright-ignorance that Pinterest is exploiting. It may be done routinely, but it's never morally right to exploit ignorance, especially not to the extent that Pinterest does.
But in all honestly, bloggers and reviewers like me only have good intentions when we post something that “belongs” to someone else.
Thoese "good intentions" come directly from the deep well of ignorance about how artists monetize their work. The road to a lawsuit and a cash settlement is paved with such good intentions.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zoe Parks On Pinterest

Zoe Parks, a North Charleston resident with nearly 1500 pins, has posted an amusing disclaimer on the header of her Pinterest account. It embodies in three little sentences everything that is wrong with Pinterest.

None of the pictures are mine. No copyright infringement intended.
If you would like to be acknowledged or
have the picture removed, please let me know.

This is like stealing a bicycle from the streets, and writing a sign on it:
I acknowledge that this isn't my bicycle. If you catch me with it, and you want me to write your name on it, or return it to you, let me know!
No consequence for our bicycle thief while the rightful owner has to search every street in the city, call the police, and put "lost bicycle" signs on telephone poles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Another Photographer Deletes Pinterest Account

To Delete My Pinterest Account Or Not To Delete?
Well, Microsoft and Apple and Pixar and Geffen Records and Capital Music have come together to put an end to as much piracy in their industry as possible, by spending HUGE amounts of money to file lawsuits and chase down the thieves. Problem is – as professional photographers, we don’t have the deep pockets that these companies have. What do we do? Well, we spread the word. We join together. We take a stand. We educate people. We share our thoughts on Blogs and Facebook and social media. And we start one person at a time….. and do the right thing.
Studio 314

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Abandoning Pinterest?

Interest in Pinterest is flatlining.

Has Pinterest's visitorship really stopped growing? It is summer after all, and we're vacationing, camping, sitting by the pool sipping margaritas - generally spending less time on the internet.

Several reasons are invoked when pinners come to their senses and leave Pinterest. There's the massive waste of time investing in growing desires that will remain unsatisfied; ineffective spam and hack protection; and increasingly, the fear of having to cough up thousands of dollars to an irate photographer.

Some people are deleting their Pinterest accounts out of what could be described as yearning-exhaustion.
I am not missing out on some ground breaking concept that I will never be able to find again by not using Pinterest. Yes, the internet is a vast ocean of information and ideas. But I would rather lose them forever, than to waste more time adding things to my list when I could actually be doing something like playing with my kids or going for a walk. When I’m finally ready to build a farm house table, I’ll start my project the old fashioned way and Google it.
For some, Pinterest leads to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction with one's life:
I would see beautiful home furnishing pictures and compare them to my home. I would see gorgeous fashion pictures and compare them to my wardrobe. I would see mouth-watering pictures of recipes and compare them to my own dinners.

Others were put off by the recent flurry of locked accounts due to hacking:
Now, I’ve put up with Pinterest throughout all the privacy issues, dealt with my fair share of spam, the terms of service debacles, and spent countless hours ensuring clients, the service can be worth the hassle. But the most recent, takes on a whole new level.

What would happen if a pinner were subject to a copyright infringement claim, and would have to settle financially with the infringed party? Recently, a romance author and blogger Roni Loren has had to settle with a photographer, and her woes have stricken fear in the hearts of other bloggers, and pinners. The story is currently viral on Twitter.

Liz Hellebuyck is now clearing her blog of infringing material:
...we don’t bother to read these insanely long “terms of service,” which put the user at fault for using a tool they provide.
Donna Newton, in Using Pictures, Risk A Lawsuit, declares a similar intent.

More digital ink spilled about Roni Loren: Stacy Green, Harsh Mellow, Jaime Morrow, Pickyme, Julia Indigo, Living Life The Hard Way. Stella Telleria.

One Rebecca Enzor is concerned enough to remove her unauthorized pins, but has already figured out ways to keep the images using the "like" function.

How to whip Pinterest's stalling horse into action, when a few lawsuits against pinners would lead it straight to the edge of a cliff?

YES, You Can Be Sued.

Roni Loren, writer, describes her adventures in having to settle with a photographer whose copyright she infringed on her blog: You Can Get Sued For Using Pics On You Blog.
...most of us thought if you added commentary, gave attribution, etc., then it was okay. And sites like Pinterest and Tumblr being so popular reinforced that feeling that it must be okay because otherwise--how do those sites even exist, right? Picture sharing is the whole point of those sites.
The blog post and the comments below are a recommended read.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Search Engine Ranking Studies

Here we show the effectiveness of Pinterest's negative search engine optimization on website rankings. In the examples, we have chosen websites that contain Pinterest topics within, and are known to have some of their content pinned on Pinterest.

we are querying
" pinterest"
with the expectation that pages on with articles about Pinterest will receive priority on the result page, and that Pinterest (being devoid of its .com attribute in the query) pages with infringing content from "" will come in further down the search engine result page.

Case #1:
The first TWO results are rightly from, but Pinterest hogs 4 of the results on the first page of search engine results

Case #2: is a photography site that has a very popular and well-ranking post against Pinterest. The first TWO results on the page are actually on mansurovs, positions 3 and 4 nipping at its heels contain images pinned from mansurovs.

Case #3: is a POD site with many images on Pinterest, and with a large thread about Pinterest within its forum. When searching for the specific domain name "" along with the topic "pinterest" we get an intriguing order of results. The top EIGHT results belong to the domain name, and only the ninth result is actually on "" That's quite lopsided given that the query contains a TLD (the .com part) for redbubble, but not for Pinterest.

Of course, one could force the search engine to prioritize results from using the site: command, but most people aren't aware of the finer points of query syntax.

Case #3: is largely an image blogging site with many pictures on Pinterest, has a blog tag for pinterest. The first FIVE results on the page are on Pinterest, and only position 6 and 7 are on itself.

Case #5: is the website of a venerable photo agency well known for aggressive defense of copyright. It has many pages on its site and blog mentioning Pinterest. The first FOUR results belong to Pinterest, and the website's pages about Pinterest is dead last on the page.

CONCLUSION: Combining "" and "pinterest" in a search query, one may have a reasonable expectation that pages on "" about Pinterest would come BEFORE pages on Pinterest with infringing content from "," this is definitely not always the case, even with prominent websites.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rooting For The Sharks

It's not easy to feel sorry for Pinterest
bring attacked by websharks.

According to TechCrunch and CMS Wire, many pinners have been locked out of their accounts because of compromised security. It appears that hackers access pinners' accounts and post spam. It's hard to think of a more deserving spam target than Pinterest.

Pinterest has no clue as to how this exploit is accomplished and how to end it, and is resorting to the embarrassing stop-gap measure of locking pinners out of their accounts, and making them fill up a survey in the hope of figuring out what to do.

There have been reports of deleted pins, though this may be DMCA take downs. It's possible that many pinners can't even conceive of creators asking that their IP be removed.

Pinterest is in the dark:
"Please submit a ticket if you have any idea how someone may have gained access to your login information. Consider whether you have recently encountered any misleading 3rd party apps, if you use web browser extensions, or if you use the same password on multiple sites. We also recommend running trusted antivirus software to check your computer for malware."
And now, quoting some slightly deranged pinners for amusement:
I thought they were accusing me of being the spammer because I pinned fast and it happened most of the time when I was pinning from Tumbler
the same thing happened to me today!!! it is driving me crazy, I want to get to my pins!!!!!
I just want to be able to Pin again!
Wow! I couldn’t live w/o my pinning!! Ouch, I hope it gets resolved
Then life stopped. My blog pins, recipes and contests I am working on (including the dream nursery I am pinning) is all gone – locked.
Karma, perhaps?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pinterest's Fraud Triange

pinterest copyright infringement
Pinterest's fraud triangle is a classic.

The "fraud triangle" is comprised of motivation, opportunity, and rationalization.

What is the motivation?
  • The admiration of "followers."
  • The admiration of "repinners."
  • The admiration of "commenters."
  • Satisfying a compulsion/addiction to "collect things" and "own" a vast digital hoard.
  • Fantasy ownership, like "Second Life."
What provides the opportunity?
  • The pinmarklet facilitates infringement.
  • Pinterest supplies the platform.
  • Pinterest supplies the social media context that makes up the "incentives."
  • The belief that there is no legal consequence.
What is the rationalization?
  • "No copyright infringement intended"
  • Sharing is caring.
  • "Artists will create anyway, so financial incentives are moot."
  • Authors, artists and musicians are going to have to adapt to the new reality that I've taken it upon myself to distribute their work in their stead.
  • I'm not stealing anything.
  • I'm not using it commercially.
  • Art is meant to be shared. By me. To gain the esteem of strangers on the internet.
  • Don't publish it if you care about copyright.
  • I'm giving you invaluable publicity.
  • I wouldn't license your stupid photograph anyway.
  • You're not losing.
  • No one should make a living from artistic pursuits.
  • Go mop floors.
  • You should be flattered.
“Unfortunately finding talent and figuring out how to get in between them and as much of their money as possible is a great way to get real rich.”
– Thomas Edison

Does Pinterest exploit its users to get between content creators and their incomes?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Oh Boy..., the most expensive domain name ever purchased at 13 million dollars back in November 2010, has switched to a Pinterest format.

They're not the first to bring "pinning" to adult material; is merely stepping where "snatchly" and "pinclub" have already threaded.

It's only a matter of time before the litigious photo agency "Perfect 10" takes these websites to court. This inevitable event should be in everyone's crystal ball.

Loss Of Search Engine Rankings - Could Pinterest Be The Cause?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Send The US Government A Message About Pinterest


Victoria Espinel, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator is asking for input from artists, musicians and assorted creators to "Help Us Shape Our Strategy for Intellectual Property Enforcement".

Make your anti-Pinterest sentiments heard!!submitComment;D=OMB-2012-0004-0002.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pinterest An Affiliate of Photo Licensing Site?

Follow the money brick road...

It appears that Pinterest may have worked itself into becoming an affiliate site for iStock Photo.
Please be aware that the Pinterest website is a member of our Affiliate program. The iStockphoto team which handles the affiliate program, continually monitors the usage to ensure it is in line with the program.
The use of the word "affiliate" comes with the expectation that Pinterest would receive commissions for licensing revenue that is generated by traffic referred from its pages. In other words, if someone follows the link to an image posted on Pinterest and purchases rights to use this image from, in this case, iStock photo, Pinterest would receive a commission.

It's not clear why anyone would want to purchase rights to a photo that's all over Pinterest, that's already on a pinner's own pinboard, or that any webmaster can hotlink to from the Pinterest servers without worrying about copyright infringement (Pinterest has the "rights" to distribute the image according to its ToS).

Not much noise has been made to make the photographers on iStock photo aware of this affiliate scheme - possibly because this news might upset some of them.

The money pie isn't infinite, ultimately, who pays for Pinterest's commission? To whom is the burden transferred? Now, and over years?

Is such an affiliate relationship a reason why a photo licensing site would be ignoring copyright violations?

How much extra revenue could this possibly generate? One might suspect "close to zero," but what are the real numbers? How many pinners care about copyright enough to license a photograph? And for what? Their blogs? Their fashion magazine empire? The travel books they are writing? Someone looking to license a photograph won't be looking for it on Pinterest when stock photo websites have convenient search functions.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's Not Just Images And Recipes, It's Comics, Too.

Don't you miss the days when I posted 2 comics a week, instead of writing rebuttals to Forbes and dealing with bullshit like this?
- Matthew Inman

Our topic today is the vs. The Oatmeal debacle.

If you're not familiar with The Oatmeal, you are missing out on a deliriously funny collection of cartoons and illustrated essays by Matthew Inman, a cat-loving, horse-hating geek with an astute sense of observation.

Now, meet, little more than a Pinterest for comics. Below is Inman's description of Funnyjunk's business model:
  1. Gather funny pictures from around the internet
  2. Host them on
  3. Slather them in advertising
  4. If someone claims copyright infringement, throw your hands up in the air and exclaim "It was our users who uploaded your photos! We had nothing to do with it! We're innocent!"
  5. Cash six figure advertising checks from other artist's stolen material
Sounds familiar? Right now, Pinterest doesn't have advertising, though it is partnering with stock photo sites for revenues, is recruiting vast amounts of venture capital, and has hired Tim Kendall so the writing is on the wall.

Inman complains that has "practically stolen [his] entire website and mirrored it on FunnyJunk."

The owner of has responded." He hired one Charles Carreon, whose claim to fame was to sue, to demand $20,000 from Inman for defaming on the internet. You know this is true because it's not possible to make up things like this.

In answer to this ridiculous demand for money, Inman counter-offered to donate, from a donation campaign targeting his fans, the required amount to charitable organizations of his choice (National Wildlife Federation and Cancer Society). He raised over $200,000 so far.

On June 21, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that it will represent Matthew Inman against a "bizarre lawsuit targeting critical online speech." Does it stop here? No, as Charles Carreon himself is now suing, on his own behalf this time, "Inman, the two charities, and the online fundraising platform IndieGoGo, claiming trademark infringement and incitement to “cyber-vandalism.”" Carreon dropped the law suit during the first week of July.

There will come a time when all of the web will miss the days when content creators were publishing abundantly, instead of fighting against user-based content scrapers like Pasplore, Funnyjunk and Pinterest hiding behind the DMCA safe harbor.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Recipe For Copyright Infringement

Another IP goose is cooked.

Pinterest has some copyright infringement competition. Was the pie too large not to be shared? Pasplore now offers the Pinterest clientele a website exclusively devoted to infringing on the copyrights of recipe publishers. No opportunity to profit from the enticement of bored women to "curate content," aka copyright infringement, shall be missed.

The brainchild of Chris Crittenden and Wes Dyer, Pasplore already boasts of "8,164 recipes saved from 1,333 websites and counting" on their welcome page. Like Pinterest, they have a counterpart to the pinmarklet, with which "you can save a recipe from anywhere on the web – any website, any blog no matter how obscure – with a single click."

No need to wait for an invite, Pasplore forces you to sign in with Facebook - that's your only option.

Not surprisingly, food bloggers are up in arms on Ask Chef Dennis. Wait until they find out that Pasplore itself is taking steps to protect its own intellectual property while stealing that of others: "Pasplore has several patent opportunities that were publicly disclosed at the beginning of 2012. We intend to file provisional patents this year[1].", and that Pasplore anticipates "implementing [their] revenue model in Fall 2012."

Pinterest Can Afford Higher Rent

According to Business Insider, Pinterest has moved from Palo Alto to San Francisco, 808 Brannan Street.

Their swanky new digs are at the "Fashion Center" - a 2-story building from the 30's with big windows.

View Larger Map

Thursday, July 5, 2012

From the Urban Dictionary

When an intervention is needed to drag your wife off pintrest [sic].
"This is the 25th day in a row, it's time for a pintervention."
A word to describe a digital image just before someone infringes on its copyright by handing out rights to distribute it to a website called Pinterest, without the permission of the image's creator..
"Oh, this is pinteresting! I will add this to my digital image hoard on Pinterest! Hopefully I will earn the approval of my followers when they repin the image to their own digital hoard, copyright infringement is so worth it. God forbid I should consider the consequences of my actions on the person who created this pinteresting image."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Awareness, Action!

If you have a Pinterest account, and have a few minutes, do REPIN from - maximize the number of pinners that get to see these graphic copyright messages in the general feed.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Block My Website Please

Devina Divecha writes, in Pinterest — friend or foe?, "I cannot, in good faith, become a Pinterest user until the copyright infringement issues are resolved." She continues: "The website itself is trying to provide a temporary fix to those concerned about copyright by providing an “opt out” code for blog and website owners, who can incorporate into their websites preventing people from pinning their work."

Temporary fix? Never mind the "opt out" code being a temporary fix, Pinterest has the technical ability to easily block pinning from any website from their end. Is Pinterest bothering to tell people about this much easier fix for webmasters? No, of course not. Pinterest wants to make it as difficult as possible for artists whose content is infringed upon.

Anyone interested in having their website blocked from pinning doesn't need to bother recoding anything. Just write an angry letter to and they will do it for you.