Is Pinterest worth the hassle?
As of late, my roommate Brianna and I cannot go a day without bringing up Pinterest in at least one conversation. The dialogue usually goes something like this:
“Did you know that if you put a wooden spoon over the top of that pot, the water won’t boil over?” she said last week, as my pot of pasta was about to spill over.
“What? No, that’s really cool!” I replied with sincere amazement.
“I saw it on Pinterest.”
Pinterest, for those who are unfamiliar, is an amazing world of new ideas for cooking, fashion, home decorating and exercising, among many other topics. I know of women who have planned their engagement parties, wedding and honeymoon – all from their “wedding” boards. Users “pin” images on bulletin boards that they’ve created. It’s a sort of virtual scrapbook, where users can collect ideas they run across on the Internet.
The site, which was founded in 2009, has attracted more than 16 million monthly users, according to the New York Times. According to a recent Shareaholic Monthly Traffic Report for February, Pinterest beat out Twitter for referral traffic. From the report:
Why is this significant? Our previous report dug into our referral traffic and revealed that Pinterest outpaced Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined for share of referral traffic. However, admittedly, Pinterest’s digital collage wonderland is essentially a photo-sharing/link-sharing service that is naturally inclined to drive referral traffic. But as Twitter is another share-heavy platform, Pinterest’s edge over the micro-blogging service is particularly significant. Not to mention, Pinterest is still invite-only.
And according to Blogher’s 2012 survey of women and social media, when it comes to women’s faith in social media, 81 percent trust newcomer Pinterest, while only 67 percent and 73 percent trust veterans Facebook and Twitter, respectively.
So, with all this love and trust surrounding Pinterest, we were all shocked when we heard about Pinterest’s culminating issues. Copyright infringement? Who really reads the terms and agreement section before they start pinning away?
It’s the user-friendliness that hooks you and makes it all too easy to share copyrighted material. It’s easy for attributions to get lost when you’re repinning your friend’s cousin’s boyfriend’s little sister’s recipe for the perfect chocolate chip brownie. Getting lost in all the shares and re-shares are the rights-holders. Pinterest, like all other popular sharing sites, has attempted to regulate this. The thing is, the sheer scale that makes sites like Pinterest popular is too much for any sort of organization.
Another point to bring up is the media industry can’t have it both ways. It wants the exposure and traffic, but try to limit just what exactly can be shared, and when it can be shared, and who shares it. According to Jim Nichols, a Forbes contributor,
“Large media companies aren’t the only one with the social sharing oxymoron; many creative professionals are guilty too. That’s how we wind up with misguided legislation such as SOPA.”
The movement to put pressure on Pinterest to change its terms of service has already began – some users have even gone so far as to delete their pinboards. The way its terms or service agreement is worded, Pinterest’s ability to invoke the indemnity isn’t limited to instances where you actually infringed copyright, or did something to otherwise violate a third party’s rights. It can be invoked if the losses simply flow from your use or access to the site of your pins.
Another clause: “You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms.”
Web and digital media lawyer Paul Jacobson says on web.tech.law that the question remains as to how real the risk of this clause actually being invoked against a user is. “It may seem implausible, but consider that a number of content creators are pretty concerned about Pinterest users sharing their content without their permission,” he said recently. He went on to say it may not be too long before we begin to see the first lawsuits emerge. “At that point, users will have to wait and see if the indemnity is invoked and their lives changed because of a whimsical share.”
Pinterest founder Ben Sinlbermann has said he is just a “guy with a computer who had a vision,” and that he is aware of the issues and is working in possible solutions. So, will you keep pinning? Will you contact copyright owners before posting images? This will give Brianna and me a lot to talk about tonight …
by Sarah Funderburk