Sunday, September 30, 2012

ShopInterest.Co is a new Pinterest clone startup. The variety of ways webmasters try to hitch their wagons to the Pinterest horse is comedy gold.

Here's how it works. I pin stuff on Pinterest. Then I sign up with ShopInterest.Co, who will upload any pin or pinboard to its own set of servers. I add price tags to my pins, et voilĂ ! ShopInterest.Co has made a copy of my pinboards, except that I can now sell what I have pinned. I plug my state tax rate, connect with my PayPal account, and when someone wants to buy whatever is pinned, I ship it.

...our user base expressed an interest is leveraging Pinterest for selling, and shared with us that there was a lot of duplicative work between selling via Etsy, Ebay and posting in Pinterest
These geniuses have probably heard a lot of uncritical Pinterest hype from the self-appointed Pinterest marketing gurus, but it appears that they haven't bothered to check out Pinterest with their own eyes.

How does a pinboard full of images taken without permission, representing objects pinners can't afford, translates into something the pin hags have the power to sell? Remember, Pinterest frowns upon self-promotion, so how can pinners package and ship other people's things... especially when most of these things are just pretty pictures of objects that aren't for sale?’s not about building a traditional online store – it’s about turning your Pinterest board into a store.
Good luck with that.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Register Your Work!

In What All Artists And Photographers Should Know About Copyright Law, Kalliope Amorphous encourages artists to regsiter their work, and generously adds some useful instructions.
A lot of photographers are immediately intimidated by the thought of registering their work, because for some reason there is a misconception that it is difficult and expensive to do. I used to think the same thing. Actually, registering your work is no more difficult than uploading your work to a photo sharing site.
Do it!

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Will Crowdscrape

I Will Crowdscrape

Pinterest, I love you
You give me many likes
You give me followers
From lawsuits, I shield you
I'll bite the legal bullet
And run the gauntlet

Pinterest, I love you
You line up pictures
You host my folders
From artists, I steal for you
Master, are you pleased?
I serve, so you be enriched.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kudos To Ebay

Look! No huge infringement potential!

Still only in beta and by invitation only, Ebay presents Setify, an image collection platform that is not based on copyright infringement - yes it can be done.

At this time, Setify is restricted to rare comics and coins. You can tag "items you own, or want to add to your collection." There is a social component: "Show off your collection to your friends in the eBay community."

Most artists will be happy not to have to add a "i-cant-get-no-setifytion" meta tag.

There always have been ways to share images without copyright infringement. Too bad Pinterest chose such an unfortunate business model.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Soon, The Dough Will Roll In

Tim Peterson, in Pinterest's Money Play Could Hinge on Its Meme-Laden Data Social - site rounding up its options, reports that:
Last week Pinterest met with ad tracking and attribution firm Convertro to discuss available monetization opportunities.
The day Pinterest monetizes that scraped third party content will be a game changer.

From the perspective of the volunteer scrapers the sight of advertisement, regardless of the form it takes, Pinterest's "share" motto will be tainted by the "profit" imperative.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


A guest post by M. Sara 23/09/12
Men the most unlike in the matter of their intelligence possess instincts, passions, and feelings that are very similar. In the case of every thing that belongs to the realm of sentiment— religion, politics, morality, the affections and antipathies, &c. — the most eminent men seldom surpass the standard of the most ordinary individuals.From the intellectual point of view an abyss may exist between a great mathematician and his boot maker, but from the point of view of character the difference is most often slight or non-existent.It is precisely these general qualities of character, governed by forces of which we are unconscious, and possessed by the majority of the normal individuals of a race in much the same degree — it is precisely these qualities,I say, that in crowds become common property.

In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes of the individuals, and in consequence their individuality,are weakened. The heterogeneous is swamped by the homogeneous, and the unconscious qualities obtain the upper hand.

from ‘The Crowd’ - Gustave Le Bon 1896

Not so long ago (2003), before the advent of smart phones in every pocket and ipads and the “monetization” of the www do you remember the early flash mobs very fun. Then the primary means of connecting and informing people of an event was email. Facebook and Twitter and all the other social networks fill in for smaller reach of email and can have more more serious consequences than a bunch of happy people dancing in the mall. Revolutions, riots and Coca Cola all now use the technology available along with the mob meme to get insurgents to the right place at the right time and to advertize to the consumer.

The biggest problem for Google before they had photo mapped the world, sent their own photographers out to photograph businesses and encouraged people to write their own map pages and the customers to write the reviews was content. In the beginning they outsourced to companies like who used scrapping software and search robots to download entire websites of restaurants to their servers then used the images and menus in their templates. These scrapping services would then feed the information and any updates straight to Google a couple of times a week and Google would use the information to populate their map info pages. The scrapping service would in most cases always be at the top of any Google search results unless the business had very good SEO. The scrapping company would also blackmail the business owner into becoming a “member” so you could update your menus etc for a price per month on their site when you had a perfectly valid website of your own that had been stolen by them. This model has changed and now operates as a delivery service but when it was scrapping it made a fortune for someone probably quite a few people.

The statistics of the Crowd are interesting 2.3 billion people use the internet that is ⅓ of the world population of that third 62% use social media - that is a lot of content. Instead of using code written by a few extra clever people and implemented on site why not use 2.3 billion individuals to skim their own viewed content for free. Same general model but far more effective using the processing power of all those personal smart phones laptops and desktops. Pinterest has over 4 million daily unique visitors one assumes a fair percentage are pinning.

This is a map of one days April 1, 2011 uploads to Flickr [April 1, 2011] by geographic location

It is worth a closer look

Millions of individuals choosing the 'fashions' you will notice the sameness of what is pinned .. it is about fashion and fashion is advertising and that is merchandising. Selling Coca-Cola [ the biggest individual item sold in Australian Supermarkets and it is basically sugar, water and chemicals] works on fashion as well and if millions are choosing then it will be the average that is a mathematical and psychological certainty. The pinning is the flip side of trolling... finding a space in the internet's neural network to gain a psychological validation and about as useful as trolling. Imagine the world map under this map and you can see the how the www connects:
The neural networks in the human brain

When a brain is attached to the overall internet network by a personal device and then interacts via a portal of some kind , a search engine, a blogging program, facebook etc thei ruploaded content fills the spaces between the ads, it is the audience to the content that is providing the revenue to the “owners” of the portal by buying or by receiving advertizing. It would be a mistake to simply consider them “sites” as they do their best to be end destinations that is that all the sharing buttons are about, keeping you within their revenue stream you can share your connection to another portal but will hopefully continue to be corralled on whatever part of the www you might spend or earn the money. What you have is a collective mind,the entire network could be seen as a machine , if you look back to the quote I began with, this snippet: “In the collective mind the intellectual aptitudes of the individuals, and in consequence their individuality, are weakened.” in the case of the collective www sharing mind I suspect that respect for the individual idea or concept is subsumed by the amount of senseless interaction that is made to look like an exchange of knowledge, therefore worthwhile - comments, sharing buttons, competitions, strange games about farms or scrabble with friends but is really about keeping bums on seats.All that is not to say that there are not many nooks and crannies of the internet that don’t use this economic model many people still use the usenet rather than face book or twitter [Google groups has an archive 700 million Usenet postings from a period of more than 20 years - so as not to miss advertizing to that crowd] the open source community is active in many areas and there are blogs that are not a part of the machine collective consciousness. The number of people playing in the shadows is dwarfed however by the social media users.

Does any of it matter? Creative individual expression has always been subjugated by the mob . The collective unconscious has always frowned on difference and without the crowd there is no need for counter culture or the underground. Knowledge is power, information without knowledge is entertainment … controlling the collective consciousness and offloading the responsibility to the individuals within the crowd via terms of service is money for nothing, and your content for free. It does matter but in the end the user gets to choose how they approach the paradigm if they are smart enough to understand the psychology and depending on their ethics ignore it , use it or subvert it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Zero Tolerance For Desperate Hipsters

My Hipsters screenshot has Hitler with headphones.
Probably not the best of omens. is just another unabashed Pinterest knockoff that's been foistered on the internet by parasite Sumon Rahman who has purchased one of the many "Pinterest-In-A-Can" programs available and installed it on a server. The knockoff even has red pin icons, and the "organize and share things you love" motto. The funny thing about this one is that Mr. Rahman created a page on Wikipedia, that was promptly deleted by the Wikipedians, who are not known to take guff from self-marketers.

Crowdsourced content scraping could have been invented 15 years ago, but it wasn't. Back then, webmasters had respect for copyright. Probably not because of some knowledge of the law, but rather, basic human decency. Whatever scraping activity there was, it was never conceived as legitimate, possibly not even by those that perpetrated it.

It took someone like Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, who is, in my opinion, an extraordinarily amoral, unscrupulous and shameless individual to breach through this culture of human decency and blaze the trail for his Cult of Image Copyright Infringement. His hideous contribution to the web is crowdsourced scraping.

And this is the reason why I have introduced you to yet another Pinterest clone. To drive the point home that some artists may be resigned to Pinterest's existence, stoically taking another hit to their ability to make a living, shrugging it off and moving on, letting themselves be mollified with nopin metatags, contented with a nofollow link and attribution, deluding themselves with the hope that Pinterest can be used as a promotion tool: these artists fail to see into the future. A future where not ONE successful copyright infringement platform need be contended with, but hundreds and hundreds; some even worse than Pinterest like Spark, that scrapes both images and text at once.

There must be zero tolerance for crowdsourced scrapers. There is no room for reluctant "I guess it's OK if..." - there ought to be no "ifs." Zero tolerance.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PhotoPin: Finally, A Sensible Idea

PhotoPin is an image search tool limited to Creative Commons images.

There's no excuse not to mine the Creative Commons

We need to spread the word out on this one!

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Why are we referring to Pinterest as a crowdscraper?

"Scrapers" were once considered the #1 scourge of the internet. Automated scripts would crawl the web for topical content and images from third party websites, collage it together without sense or logic, slap ads on it, and voilĂ ! A mish-mash website is created, honed with automated search engine optimization trickery, and acts like a honey pot to draw search engine traffic and befuddled visitors, who hopefully will befuddledly click on the advertisements. Most of the time, visitors walked away at the first sight of the bizarre, keyword-stuffed, content-less gibberish that made scrapers instantly recognizable.

Search engineers would work hard to weed out this nuisance out of their result pages. They hired linguistics experts to find ways to distinguish normal syntax from robot word salad.

They also strove to ferret out duplicate content, and set out to find ways to distinguish the copiers from the originators.

The ever-inventive scrapers responded by hiring English-speaking "writers" from the third world with no actual understanding of the topic beyond some ability to concoct stock, sensical sentences such as: "Everyone loves dolphins. Dolphins are important to the world. Without dolphins, there would be no dolphins, etc."

Welcome to the next generation of content scraping: crowdscraping.

There is no doubt that Pinterest is a content scraper.
  • Nearly all its content is directly taken from other websites.
  • Stolen content is collaged and re-organized.
  • No original content anywhere.
  • Sophisticated search engine optimization techniques geared towards massive traffic draw to itself (giving no credit to the links to the original websites with nofollow attributes).
Instead of bots, or third-world manpower requiring salaries, Pinterest has enlisted volunteer scrapers. These volunteers serve two key purposes: (1) scrape content for Pinterest and (2) act as a legal human shield, taking the hit of C&D demands for damages while Pinterest has made itself legally untouchable via its TOU.

The volunteers' reward? Completely meaningless "Likes," "Repins" and "Followers" from complete strangers, which are like catnip to the social animals that we are.

Yet, Pinterest barely qualifies as a social medium. Most social media, even those that are plagued by a fair amount of infringement, have the merit of having been designed as a means of original self-expression. Despite Pinterest's marketing claims that the pictures we like or the images of things we would buy if we had the money are "self-expression," they are in fact the expressions of others.


We can only hope that this will dawn on pinners, that Google will penalize the practice, and that crowdscraping will be but a passing fad.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Copyright Infringement Sweepstakes!

A forum devoted to online sweepstakes has users lamenting:
A while back I won a Pinterest contest for $1000 gift card from a major retailer. The first place winner won $5000. She clearly violated copyright by repinning google images. After the winnings were distributed, I let the retailer know. I pretty much got an, oh well, the choices were made.
What a new interesting way to make money infringing on people's copyrights! Sweepstakes... who would have guessed?

The entire thread can be found here.

LINK to Wal-Mart's PIN & WIN Contest

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We Will All Fall Unless We Stand United

Artists allowing Pinterest to scrape their content looks like a personal decision. On some levels, it is; an artist can evaluate how much referral traffic they are receiving from Pinterest relative to the number of infringements they allow, and decide whether that's worth losing control over the distribution of their images and websites everywhere hotlinking these pictures with links back to Pinterest.

One useful metric is the monthly referral rate per infringement. Suppose the following data:

1000 images pinned.
10 referrals from Pinterest per month.

In this simple example, referral rate is 1% per month, or 0.01 monthly visitor per infringed image. In other words, the content creator must allow 100 units of infringement in order to gain one extra visitor per month.

That takes care of the personal decision aspect.

Another important consideration is a collective one. Should the community of content creators, as a whole, embrace Pinterest?
  • If people are looking for your content as text, or images, they have search engines at their disposal and they should find you directly, not with Pinterest as an intermediary.
  • You are competing with Pinterest for a most valuable resource, visitors. Visitors can be expressed as the total number of time people spend engaged on the internet. This is a finite resource. The more visitors are engaged on Pinterest, because the content is there, the less motivated they are to find you with search engines, or even follow a link to your site from Pinterest. The more content we let Pinterest get away with, the fewer visitors ALL CONTENT CREATORS will have to share, with Pinterest getting, by far, the largest chunk of the pie.
  • Some years ago, a webmaster could create a craft website, work on it for some years, and expect a reasonable amount of success and rank in search engine pages. They were then competing against other content creators with similar resources. Now, a webmaster wishing to launch a craft website needs to compete not with his/her peers, but with Pinterest, a place where everyone's best work is now aggregated. Success stories are expected to be extremely rare in such an environment.
  • If enough content creators say "yes" to Pinterest, all of them will lose out in the short term, and more devastatingly in the long term. This is a heavy price to pay for an illusory trickle of traffic.
In Pinteresting or not? A look at #Pinterest, Rob O'Hara observes:
If it sticks around long enough, I can see Pinterest taking a slice out of the blogosphere — specifically, blogs that are set up for the sole purpose of sharing pictures. Why manage an entire website for pictures when you can just point picture to your Pinterest collection?
You don't need a crystal ball to see that one coming.

We can do our share to stop it. We can stand united against Pinterest, and contribute to keeping the internet an environment where citizen-publishers can make a living without being robbed by crowdsourced scrapers like Pinterest - like it's meant to be.
  • BOYCOTT pin buttons.
  • EDUCATE fellow artists wherever opportunity arises.
  • REMOVE all our pinned content via DMCA notices.
Thank you!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pinterest Comparative Traffic Data

According Google Trends,
reports that Pinterest is closing in on Facebook
appear to be a monumental exaggeration.

If you can't see the blue line in the graph above that represents Pinterest, you may have to squint. The blue hugs the ZERO value on the x-axis.

Google Trends does confirm that some recipe blogs are receiving proportionally important referrals from Pinterest

The recipe blogs/websites above appear to receive as much referral traffic from Pinterest as they from Facebook, despite Pinterest's much tinier presence on the internet.

Pinterest may be a boon for recipe blogs, but it's becoming clear that it's a bust for everything else.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Artist, Educate Yourself

Some blogger operating under the name "Girly Underwear" and referring to herself as a photographer has some great lessons to teach us all in her post How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Pinterest. Let's take a look at the best bits.

As someone who takes photos for a living, I don’t see Pinterest as a threat against my work. I am only concerned about two things: people taking credit for my work, and people making money off of my work.
Like the majority of people who are working tirelessly to fill Pinterest's servers with infringing third party content, and paid only in "likes" and "followers," our intrepid photographer needs a few rounds with a clue bat. She keeps confusing plagiarism (people taking credit for my work) with copyright infringement (people displaying things on various media platforms without permission of the creator), and fails to grasp that a financial motive is not a prerequisite for actionable infringement.
Should I have to pay for every photo that I enjoy looking at on the internet? That’s like saying anyone who heard “Call Me Maybe” on the radio should pay the artist.
If creatives harbor such gross misconceptions, is there any hope for the public at large to understand the rights of artists to make a living from their creative output, based on their ability to control its distribution, display, and mediatization? I'd venture to say that most people know that the radio stations pay royalties to broadcast "Call Me Maybe." I bet that even more people know that Pinterest doesn't pay a cent of royalties to the creators of the images it re-broadcasts without permission.
Keeping a virtual closet of products that I will never be able to afford is enough retail therapy for me, it makes me feel like I already own them.
This comment is a direct reminder of an earlier post, here on Creators Against Pinterest: An Image Is Worth More Than The Object It Represents. That simple admission reveals a much deeper truth, which is that, on the internet, images themselves are a commodity. Some content providers make more money from displaying the photographs of their art/craft than selling the actual product. Images are valuable. Images make money. Images make money without being licensed, without being printed. They make money from being displayed on the popular media that is the internet. Our blogger knows how much an image is worth: more than the object it represents. Yet, she fails to grasp the money concept, which is the transfer of "image wealth" from their creators in the the greedy hands of Pinterest through the tireless hoarding of its users.
My suggestion to photographers who do not want their photos passed around on the internet? Don’t put it there.
How often have we read this argument? If you don't want your purse to be snatched, keep it home. If you don't want your car radio stolen, take it with you every time you leave the car. If you don't want your home to be burgled, board your windows with plywood.
Consequently, I could see myself pinning (or infringing!) lots of photos but a landscape photographer will have a tough time selling me one of his prints [...]
It's very difficult for people to understand how very few of us make money from prints. It's not about the prints. It was never about the prints.

If we hope to educate the public to respect copyrights, we need to educate each other, first.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pinterestist - A Hall of Mirrors

Infringing on infringed content of the copyright infringing platforms...
Enough to make anyone dizzy.

Pinterest clones and wannabes are sprouting like a plague of venomous mushrooms. The latest, "Pinterestist" at adds an extra layer of frosting on the copyright infringement cupcake. is a Pinterest-like staggered column layout Web site exclusively featuring screenshots of Pinterest-like staggered column layout Web sites. If you know of one I’ve missed, please submit the url or a screenshot. your chief pinterestist, r0b
And now we have screenshots of pages of infringed content.

It's doubtful that such a ridiculous concept will catch on and find adherents - it merely illustrates the desperation and the "creativity" displayed by all the small-time internet parasites out there hoping to cash in on Pinterest's popularity.

The only real "innovation" that Pinterest can be credited for is spearheading a mass culture of image copyright infringement. They sit back, with their skeleton crew and legal wranglers, merely providing a platform for users to scrape other people's content for them to exploit to raise venture capital at the moment, and some day, for profit. They sit back, their users a human shield against the copyright infringement lawsuit they so richly deserve.

If allowed to continue, Pinterest's true legacy to the internet will be to break its spirit of individual/expert contribution by eroding these contributors' ability to make a living out of their own work.

Meanwhile, every penny-pirate wants to emulate this great model of "stealing" other people's work by proxy, and without risk of legal action. Welcome to the most recent addition to the list, Pinterestist.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pinterest Deflates Again

...all of that hype never seems to fully drown out the hum of online merchants telling us that, despite the hours and hours of time they spend on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest [...] marketing their sales, the returns are negligible.
When content providers decide to compromise their copyright by allowing their content on Pinterest, or even posting it themselves, they do so with the expectation of some measure of promotion of their product or website, or better yet, sales.

Pooling data from 5 anomymous online marketplaces, David Steiner, writing for EcommerceBytes reveals dismal referral traffic from Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.

The much-hyped "Pinterest high conversion rate" suffers a devastating blow:
Twitter had only a quarter of Pinterest's traffic, the quality and conversion rate was about double that of Pinterest
CornerstoneConsultingInc reports that:
...according to Bloomberg, the data found that Pinterest facilitates buying, but only to a relatively unimpressive extent. An average Pinterest purchase came out to $.75 as contrasted against $2.08 per order from Facebook referrals and $33.66 from Twitter.
In view of these statistics, coupled with the standard NOFOLLOW attribute link scheme of most of the crowdsourced scrapers, there is very little to gain by allowing Pinterest to re-distribute your content, and possibly more to lose in the long run as you lose sight of where your intellectual property ends up.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tag'N'Grab On The Young And The Restless

Is Y&R glorifying copyright infringement?
That would provide a poor example to its viewers

The CBS daytime soap opera The Young and The Restless has some its characters launching a website that they call Tag'N'Grab. The users of that fictional website are taggers. From what I gather, without watching the show, is that it's some sort of crowdsourced scraper, and that at one time, baby-related items were "tagged and grabbed" within some storyline.

This fictional website sounds like a version of Pinterest.

To feature it on a television program glorifies copyright infringement, and desensitizes the public to its harmful effects on the creative community. I would prefer if the writers of The Young and The Restless, who, being themselves writers vulnerable to infringement, would instead educate their viewership that you can't TAG or GRAB everything on the internet without putting yourself at risk for a very expensive lawsuit.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sue Me, Please - Yes, I'll Oblige If I Can

Why would anyone complain about copyright infringement for linking to them? The world has gone mad. Which I guess I knew already.

This taunting image has been pinned repeatedly, with the following comment: Poking the beehive. With all the talk about copyright infringements and #Pinterest, I'm still #Pinning. Sue me.

If you ever come to the point of suing pinners, these pinners, who have pinned or repinned this "sue me" taunt, should be on everyone's remorse-free priority lawsuit list:
PIN URLPinner Noland Hoshino (2764 pins) Beth Kanter (932 pins) Angela Dixon Cook Cincy Wexler Leah Albanese (2336 pins) Julia Lentz (1144 pins) Ifdy Perez Julie Lubinsky Bobby Nicolescu (2100 pins) Claire Wagner Non-Profit Organizations JM Villero Pontus Westerberg Megan Southall Kathy Catino (22,479 pins) Marcin Wec (859 pins) Keren Lerner (2336 pins) Gabrielle Laine-Peters (925 pins) Faith Ruggiero (5207 pins) Jack Varnell (2649 pins) Christy Aleckson

Some want to infringe and asking nicely not to be sued.

Here I credited the source, don't sue me.
henrybuilt, uncrate, don't sue me for copyright infringement.

I'm confusing crediting the source with infringement.
I'm just like you, a novel. Complicated, hidden long story that shed tears and cheers itself.❞ ---Yousef Al-Shereida / To avoid copyright infringement, I don't take credit for my displayed images

Thursday, September 6, 2012

When The Hard Way Is The Only Way To Learn

Kathy DalPra, a bridal blogger, has learned about the dangers of copyright infringement the hard way and dodged a bullet. She received a cease and desist letter accompanied with a demand for no less than $30,000 in damages. Lucky for her, she was able to clear out a misunderstanding to show that she in fact did have the photographer's permission.

This illustrates the necessity of legal consequences to educate the public with regards to copyright infringement. The pervasive culture is that it is a consequence-less crime; until, that is, consequences do materialize.
If someone that I actually DID get permission from to use her images wanted to sue me or the publication I posted them in, can you imagine how someone might react if I didn't have their permission?
Then a lesson is learned. Never before, unfortunately.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reporting To Google

DMCA notices have become a familiar routine for many content creators.

However effective, these notices have no teeth and remove all incentives for the offender to monitor its content.

With Google recent announcement that it will penalize websites receiving abundant copyright complaints, we now have a tool that allow us to mete out a modicum of well-deserved punishment to sites like Pinterest.

The first requirement is that your infringed image show up in a Google search. This can be quite easy once you have located your work to then search it with Google with some accurate keywords, or even URL identifiers.

The second requirement is that you do not have the content removed from Pinterest by way of DMCA until after your Google complaint is processed. Be patient, they are not fast.

The Google Complaint Form is here. Bookmark it!

You can lodge a complaint when your infringed content is linked by Google through its web search, or image search. This means that you are able to legitimately use the complaint tool when entering an image URL in the search box. You can also use the site command in the search query box in this format: or My Name.

Your efforts should result in some unknown amount of downgrading of Pinterest's importance in search results.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Ehow's Spark; Undetectable, Unstoppable.

Meet the deadliest, stealthiest crowdsourced content scraper yet;'s Spark.

"" - a website devoted to uncritical fawning over Pinterest - warns us all about the evil new crowdsourced content scraper at called Spark.

The author gushes about Pinterest to an extent that even the negatives are spun into tiny silver linings.
When Pinterest outranks you for your own content, it can be a good thing if you would otherwise not rank on page one or two of search engine results for a particular search phrase.
I recommend reading of the whole article if only to chuckle at the contradictions of Pinterest=good and Spark=bad for doing the same thing.

The author is right in that this new entity makes Pinterest look like a children's choir. Ehow's Spark is entering the content scraping field like a nuclear pirate ship sailing into a koi pond. Isn't this quote from their TOS positively terrifying? hereby grant eHow a worldwide, royalty-free, freely transferable, freely sublicensable (through unlimited levels of sublicense), non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, transmit, distribute, publicly perform and display (including in each case by means of a digital audio transmission), and create derivative works of the User Generated Content, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed. You also hereby waive any moral rights you may have in such User Generated Content under the laws of any jurisdiction. You hereby appoint us as your agent with full power to enter into and execute any document and/or do any act we may consider appropriate to confirm the grant of rights, consents, agreements, assignments and waivers set forth in these Terms. You agree that we may (but are not obligated to) display your User Generated Content, and your user name or your actual name (according to the preferences you select at the time that you register) along with your User Generated Content.
Waiving moral rights? MORAL RIGHTS? And user-generated content? No... this is scraped third-party content, let's call a spade a spade. Ironically, ehow is particularly protective of "its" content:
Site on your computer for your own personal, noncommercial purposes. eHow reserves all other rights in the content on the Site, on its own behalf and the behalf of its licensors (including contributors), and eHow does not, directly or by implication, by estoppel or otherwise, grant any other rights or licenses to you under these Terms. Except as expressly stated in this paragraph, you may not reproduce, distribute, modify, publicly perform or display, or prepare derivative works of any content on the Site without prior written consent from eHow or the third-party owner of the rights in that User Generated Content (if any).
You can find further horifying details from Ehow's Terms and Conditions here.

And now from some obligatory cutesy lingo: Spark users aren't pinning; they aren't loving; they are clipping.

Scraping from Google Images is expressly encouraged.
Looking for inspiration?
Search Google Images
Spark's links are straight up, worthless nofollow links.

For maximum intrusion of your privacy, users can only login with Facebook or Google. The Spark people aren't playing; this is business.

All that infringed content is kitted up with a convenient PIN IT button to help the infringement spread like wildfire.

Their "pinmarklet" is a very, very special copyright infringement tool. Raise your glass to real innovation; it grabs the text, too, and the text's formatting. Crowdsourced copyright infringement without the boundaries.

On the go? Ehow's Spark wasted no time providing the volunteer content scrapers a mobile app:

Lo and behold, we do have yet another proprietary blocking tag to add to our collection in our ever swelling header field:

<meta name="ehow" content="noclip" />

In order to test how to best block Spark sitewide with .htaccess (image substitution is so much fun!), I have compromised my privacy and created a test account with Spark. I "clipped" images from my own websites, and examined my logs. It is with great alarm and astonishment that I must report's Spark to be UNDETECTABLE, and therefore UNSTOPPABLE by any means other than their arrogant opt-out meta-tag. They might be accessing the images from what is already uploaded to the user's browser, rather than from the creator's website servers.

The worst one yet. And still... the very worst has probably yet to come.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Pinterest's Hype Bubble Is Deflated

Charlie Warzel reports in Buzzfeed (Reddit generates huge referral traffic while Pinterest falls flat.) some facts that match what many have observed in their web logs: the hype about how links to your website on Pinterest will result in a welcome deluge of traffic is, well, just hype.
At Pinterest's peak in April 2012, the photo-centric social site was churning out nearly 400,000 social referrals. In July, Pinterest served up only 114,000 referrals (virtually unchanged from 110,000 in June), illustrating that for many publishers, Pinterest may be more of a social gimmick than anything else.
Compared to the 3.1 million referrals brought in July, Pinterest's peak of 114,000 referrals is positively anemic, and barely registering. This is hardly surprising since the audience for mindless columns of image thumbnails are hardly expected to want to dwell deeper, especially into daunting walls of text.

According to Josh Sternberg in Is Pinterest of Interest to Publishers, online magazine publishers report that in terms of traffic referrals, Pinterest is a dud. The print/online magazine The Atlantic doesn’t see much traffic coming from Pinterest. “Pinterest is not an effective referral tool for us,” said the magazine's Scott Havens. Pinterest isn't even in the top 50 of its referrers.

Right now, the internet is teeming with articles praising Pinterest's referral traffic potential, preaching that every business should consecrate much precious time posting images, cultivating followers, interacting with pinners, following them, etc., not to miss out on Pinterest's much touted referral traffic miracle.

Like untruths sparked by wishful thinking and set afire by self-styled Pinterest gurus striving to sell e-books and a name for themselves, this one will soon be a handful of ashes in the wind.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Unrequited Love At

Pinterest is little more than a dumb platform based on crowdsourcing the scraping of visual content without having to pay anyone a cent, except perhaps a handful of lightweight programmers and high-power attorneys; it was simply a matter of time for other crowdsourcing content scraping thieves to start to elbow it for a piece of the action. Pinterest, for a time, was ahead of the game by providing a central display of third-party image content, which was until then scattered on the creators' websites. With many viable competitors now entering the arena, the visual content is now trending back to its original scattered state, only on image scrapers rather than the creators' own websites. Yes, this is ironic.

Launched in mid-May 2012, is such a viable competitor. It outshines Pinterest in terms of sheer arrogance.

Mashable quoted LoveIt’s CEO Ron Lapierre:
We clearly call out in our Terms of Service that the content you bring into LoveIt is yours…We don’t claim any ownership of the content and you’re more than welcome to move it or share it on any other site you choose.
Yeah, right. Just like Pinterest, they have a one-click infringement pinmarklet-like tool which is called +Loveit - blowing any pretense that Loveit isn't just yet another copyright infringement platform right out of the water. It's just a variation of the no copyright infringement intended disclaimer.
  • shows large "thumbnails" at 220 pixels wide.
  • For now, unlike Pinterest, Loveit's links to your website are normal links, and not rendered worthless by the addition of the "nofollow" attribute. This may be a temporary lure, until they can legitimately use spam prevention as an excuse to use the "nofollow."
  •'s domain name is cloaked by a privacy service. One cannot investigate ownership of the website by normal means.
  • With, you can select all images on a given page - copyright infringement on steroids!
  • Image uploads from search engine result pages are welcome as always.
  • With, you can upload multiple files from your hard drive.
  • Like Pinterest, Loveit has an EMBED code generator to propagate the infringement to fourth-party websites.
  • has private/group settings making the infringement more difficult to detect.
  • That's not all! There's a PIN IT button on every image uploaded to!!! The copyright equivalent of the multiplication of loaves and fish.
  • Guess what? Like Pinterest, it's hosted on Amazon's servers! Indeed, their abuse contact email is at:
  •, perhaps wishing to make a user's transition from crowdsourcing for the ultimate benefit of Ben Silbermann and his venture capitalists, to its own benefit, "a frictionless experience" has a tool to faciliate mass transfer of images from Pinterest to itself.
  • Like Pinterest, Loveit features "/source/" subfolders where the aggregated content from a single website is displayed. There is a large one for Pinterest: Like Pinterest, further pages of aggregated content can be acessed at and changing the page number in the URL. Of course, the reciprocate page of content aggregated at Pinterest can be found at

Learning from Pinterest's errors, Loveit comes right out of the gate with an opt-out code.

As was predicted; now, every Pinterest clone is going to have a proprietary blocking code, forcing everyone to recode their websites, and creating a culture of "free-to-steal" as the default state. And look at the pulling of heartstrings: this blocking code is called "nolove." <meta name="LoveIt" content="nolove">. Right. Thanks, but no thanks. No one should have to do this for what is bound to become hundreds of websites.

The recoding-for-every-new-copyright-infringement-platform insanity does not stop here. You can block individual images with yet another propriety attribute to insert in the img src code: nolove="nolove" - again, aw shucks, don't you want love? No? You want no love? No love for this poor unloved image.

There is a way out of this madness with your .htaccess file. Image substitution is more complicated than with Pinterest, because sneakily fails to identify itself in the user-agent field. Instead, you have to deny access to all of Amazon's cloud server IP ranges. There is no downside to this, there is no legitimate traffic to be received from an Amazon cloud server.

Add the following at the top of your .htacess file:
ErrorDocument 403
Add this last in your .htaccess file:
Allow from all
order allow,deny
allow from all

Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
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Deny from
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Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
Deny from
This will substitute any unwanted love for this image:

Against Content Curation

Funny how we used to revile “content scrapers”. Now they’ve polished it up into a business and given it a new name to make it legit.
Read more from Why Content Curation is BS