But should you do it?
Pinterest, the wildly addictive social network that allows people to pin things they find online to virtual "boards", has made some changes this week that will possibly make many website owners concerned about people "stealing" and pinning their content to their boards very happy. They have provided a bit of code that you can add to the head code of your site to stop people from pinning your stuff.
They made an addition to their help section that says, “What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?”:
Lots of people have been going on about people "stealing" their content and pinning it, and how it's copyright infringement or in some way harming them. Now they have this little box they can add, which would be awesome, except for one thing. It doesn't stop people who really want to pin/save something and are determined to do it from just saving the image to their hard drive and uploading it directly themselves or taking a screenshot, and then maybe giving the original site a link back..and maybe not.
All using this code is going to do for some sites is strip away the link and possible huge boost in traffic they would have gotten from their content being allowed to be shared on Pinterest. Some website owners are reporting HUGE boosts in traffic from Pinterest. Last I checked, lots of traffic and people sharing your content on social sites was a good thing. Yes, there is the potential for things to get pinned wrong, or in the pinning and repinning your link could get lost in the shuffle and your content is just out there. It happens all the time on Pinterest, but it also happens pretty much anywhere people share content. Does that make it okay? No, of course not, but people are all freaking out about Pinterest in particular and how it’s evil and illegal and should be shut down. If that’s the case, then we should shut down Facebook, Google Plus, WeHeartIt, Tumblr, Piccsy, Clipboard, Snip.it, Imgur, Photobucket, Flickr, YouTube, and pretty much any social networking site where images are shared. The linking back systems on many of these sites is decidedly flawed. Tumblr, in particular, is a nightmare for trying to find the source of things. There is another huge issue about Pinterest possibly taking people’s images and selling them or licensing them, because their TOS says they can. This is a whole other huge post that I will address later, but again, most, if not all, of these sites I mentioned in some way profit from their user-uploaded content. Most of that content does not belong to the people who uploaded it. How about LOLcats and the whole slew of sites dedicated to nothing but uploaded pictures and videos? You think they’re not making their money? Do you think most of the pictures uploaded belong to the ones who uploaded them?
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be concerned about their images being used without permission and should just let people freely take whatever they like without payment or permission. That’s crazy. There are licensing issues for many people whose images are being used.There is huge potential for abuse and misuse on ANY site that allows people to upload and share things they find online, and people could definitely lose money and hurt their brand as an artist if they’re not careful. I just think that vilifying sites like Pinterest for the supposed evil TOS and for encouraging people to pilfer all the pretty pictures they find online and pin them, is a bit short-sighted, and placing the blame in the wrong place.
On the photo-sharing site Zooomr, for instance, I was able to find this picture of this cute kitty and use the embed code they provided next to it to embed it here.
I was also able to easily pin it to my Kitteh pinboard
even though the photo was posted with an “All Rights Reserved” license,
I could still take it and post it online for use in this here blog post, with no payment or permission..at least until the owner tracks me down and objects. I could do anything I want with it, if I chose. Granted, this photo is probably not something the owner posted with intent to sell. He/she is maybe not a professional artist or photographer, and I get the difference. There is a big difference. It isn’t mine to take legally, just because I like it, but I did. Unfortunately for some, good or bad, this is how things currently work online. Most people think that if it’s posted online it’s free for the taking, and you can do pretty much anything you want with things you “find”, as long as you just give a link to where you found it. There are serious issues in terms of copyright and curation everywhere on the net, so the smart thing to do is protect your creative properties of any kind when you make it available for viewing/use online. Instead of targeting sites like Pinterest, blocking them, and shouting about their evil ways, embrace them as a way to bring more attention to your work, learn how to control your content as best you can, and adapt.
How Do You Protect Your Images Online?
1. When posting your work to your own website, use a lightbox plugin, so all pictures open up in a lightbox if someone right clicks on them. They can’t be pinned or right clicked and saved from inside the lightbox. I’ve also heard good things about the NextGEN Gallery plugin
2. Post a very clear notice on your site that your images are not free to be used without permission and exactly what is and isn’t allowed. That may stop some people from taking them.
3. Watermark all of your photos, or at the very least put your name and the url to your site on the picture. That way, unless someone deliberately cuts it out of the picture, no matter where the picture ends up it clearly tells people how to find you and your site.
4. Only post thumbnails or low-res images, that will make them unsuitable for use on a lot of sites, including Pinterest.
5. You can create a private site to post your images to if you want to share higher resolution images with no watermarks, and make people have to sign up and log in if they want to see the full images. That way, people can’t just randomly land on your site and swipe things, and you can build yourself a nice mailing list of potential customers who may buy from you in the future.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the potential benefits from allowing your content to be pinned and shared far outweigh any risk. To each their own though, so those concerned can now opt out and keep their stuff all to themselves. :Pinterest isn’t going away anytime soon, clones are popping up all over, and there are far too many of them already doing exactly what Pinterest does. Pinterest just found a really easy, visually appealing and addictive way to do it. They are trying to be sensitive to copyright issues and also limited the pin descriptions to 500 words, to avoid people copying and pasting entire blog posts and recipes to their pin descriptions.
If you aren’t a Pinterest member and would like a free invite, just leave me a comment or shoot me a message with your email address and I’ll send you one.