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Pinterest – problem or solution?

Posted on: February 28, 2012 by Chris | 2 Comments

Cards by Chris WrightPinterest, in case you hadn’t heard, is a new, fast growing, image-centric community that encourages users to curate their own collections of pictures. Its taken off like wildfire and in the manner of most overnight successes has attracted a shit load of criticism.

There are two issues that keep rearing their heads. The first is the terms and conditions of the site, particularly around copyright. Pinterest delegate the responsibility for clearing permission to use photographs to the user, whilst simultaneously asserting that any picture uploaded to their site may be resold by Pinterest. Not surprisingly this has wound people up in a way not seen since Facebook tried to assert ownership of all pictures uploaded to their site.

The second issue is perhaps more interesting. The user experience at Pinterest does not impose any checks and balances on the pinning of a picture. The user can add a “Pin it” widget to their browser and just “pin” at will, any picture from any web page they like. How many of these users have even read the terms and conditions is a moot point, by using the site, users agree to the terms and conditions. Ignorance is no defence. It can be argued that by making the experience so simple, Pinterest are encouraging the magpies amongst us to steal material to which we are not entitled. Certainly, most of the images on the site today were not created by their curators.

This second issue taps into one of the enduring features of the internet. The world wide web facilitates and encourages a rapid exchange of data. Journalists can research from their desks. The PC has become the Library of Alexandria in that aided and abetted by Google it opens the door to all human knowledge. It has become a hot house for innovation, never has the saying “standing on the shoulders of giants” rung more true. Of course where there are giants, as every follower of the brothers Grimm will know, there are also goblins. For every researcher investigating the tangled web of intrigue that surrounds News International, there is somebody downloading one of my pictures from Pinterest without asking permission or giving credit, never mind a fee.

This is where I stand on the issue. I take photographs with the intention of showing them to other people. This should not come as a surprise! I also create photographs for sale as high quality prints or for editorial use. I need as much exposure as I can get in order to be successful. I have had enquiries and sales through Deviant Art, Flickr, Eye Em and this web site in the last few months. The traffic to my web site has increased due to people following the links from Pinterest. Its another shop window. The internet has provided a fantastic boost to photography – as a result there is both opportunity and competition. I don’t care if a few people copy my low res prints from the web site, its a small price to pay for the increased exposure.

And Pinterest? They are a business and in order to be successful need to find a balance between exploiting their audience and providing a service. A good deal is one in which both sides walk away satisfied. If I felt I was being exploited than I would not be satisfied. If Pinterest were unable to make a living they would not be satisfied. At the moment, I’m a supporter.

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2 Responses

  1. Linda — February 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I am getting pins from all these people I am not following. Where or how do I adjust my settings so that I only get PINS from the people I follow?

    • Chris — February 12, 2013 at 5:01 pm

      I’m not sure how you are getting pins? Your Pinterest home page will have a number of headings – Following – Categories – Everything & Popular. If you simply browse to it will default to Popular – I think this is what you may be seeing?


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