This is not a post about how I hate Pinterest. I don’t hate Pinterest. In fact I loved it in my early pinning days. The site layout is gorgeous, it has incredible visual appeal and the concept of a digital mood board is right up my design-loving alley. Pinterest is great for so many things, the following is just a short but sweet list.
- Event planning – Boards can be created with eye candy in every category from favors to decor to photographers.
- Inspired cooking – I’ve enjoyed seeing bloggy and facebook friends get inspired in their own kitchens by food pics and recipes they’ve found on Pinterest.
- Space planning/decorating – I would’ve been on Pinterest every day if I had been a member while my space was being built out with boards for lighting, curtains, mirrors, kitchens and small space layouts.
- Health and fitness inspiration – I’ve seen at home workouts, before and after pics and healthy foods on Pinterest.
- Discovering new blogs, artists and designers – This one’s pretty self explanatory.
- Traffic source for sites and blogs – Per a Mashable post on Shareaholic stats, Pinterest drove more traffic to blogs than Twitter in the month of February and more traffic to publishers than Google+, YouTube and Linked In combined in the month of January.
So, with all this goodness, why did I delete my account?
First and foremost, I rarely use it any more. After a full day of crunching numbers at the day job, I arrive home to sit at yet another desk to write, edit pictures, blog and read. I try to be computer and iPad free by 9 at the latest so I can spend the last waking hour reading a book, browsing design magazines or watching something in my Netflix queue. Even though Pinterest is fun, it no longer rises to the top of things I want to do in that short window. When I find a great blog post or feature on the net, pinning one image is not what grabs me, it is more satisfying for me to share a link to the entire piece on twitter or my Facebook page. Sure, I could do that on Pinterest but I always felt as if I was recommending merely the image out of context and not the piece in its entirety. This was not a conscious decision on my part but something I now realize in hindsight.
Secondly, I don’t look back at what I pinned. I would pin (or repin which was more often than not with me) and never refer to it again. Part of it was my lack of logging on but another part had to do with being overwhelmed with inspiration from different sources. I have stacks of unread magazines both physically and electronically, design books and many beautiful blogs in my google reader. Jane of Seen and Said expressed my sentiment perfectly in her post on Pinterest, am I being inspired or am I hoarding? Inspiration is not inspiring unless it sticks and images from Pinterest never stuck with me for longer than the minute it took me to pin. An article from a magazine, a post on Design*Sponge or a great book does more for me and continues to affect how I feel, how I brainstorm and how I create well after I’ve finished reading. It’s true that I could click back on the links to the images to see the full article/post the image came from but I often found most images I had re-pinned did not contain a link back to the original source but rather a Tumblr or blog page with no narrative and often without a specific url link or credits to the originator. I don’t feel my experience of not utilizing my boards would reflect the experience of other Pinterest members…what motivates, inspires and continues to inspire us is very personal. I likely have more of a verbal rather than visual learning style.
Last but not least, I have become increasingly uncomfortable with the potential copyright issues and more importantly how Pinterest’s terms of services addresses these issues. In the beginning, I didn’t give much thought to copyright. I understood I should credit the original source and if I uploaded (versus pinned) an image, I should have the rights to use that image. But I never thought of pinning as using an image that doesn’t belong to me. I thought of it as a linkback, similar to when I share a thumbnail and a link on facebook. I confess I didn’t read the terms of services as well as I should have. Well now I have and here are a few excerpts:
“You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”
“Member Content” means all Content that a Member posts, uploads, publishes, submits or transmits to be made available through the Site, Application or Services.”
Whoa…wait a second, I’m no attorney but I’m also no slouch at reading and interpreting contracts and legal documents due to my day job. I read this as member content does include pins (posts, submits) and that I need to have the rights to use the images I’ve pinned or my use of the image on Pinterest at least needs to fall within fair use under copyright law. While Pinterest is encouraging its members “to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web” they are also passing the responsibility to its members and making the assumption those members are well versed in copyright law.
Are pinned images subject to copyright law in the same way as if I loaded images that didn’t belong to me on my blog? If so, does pinning an image with merely a description of the item or just a simple comment like “I love a white room” constitute fair use? I would never consider loading an image from Elle Decor on my blog accompanied by a comment like “modern meets rustic” and a via Elle Decor link because I know that is too loose an interpretation of fair use and would likely be considered infringement of copyright (again, I am not an attorney). But that is exactly what I was doing on pinterest.
If you’d like to read more about others’ concerns and objections to Pinterest’s model, google “I deleted my Pinterest Account” or “the problem with Pinterest”, you can read many news articles and blog posts like this one by a photographer who is also an attorney. You can also read the terms of service on the Pinterest site, even if you are not currently a member.
Did I close my account because I was concerned I’d be sued over a pretty image of a dress I had pinned? No. But my feeling uneasy with the terms of service combined with my lack of activity on the site drove my choice. I’m not using it so I won’t miss it. I could either modify my behavior on the site as this blogger has decided to do or I could just opt out (keep it simple).
It will be interesting to see how these issues play out as Pinterest continues to increase in popularity and gains influence.
I’m also not saying I’ll never change my mind. I’ve been known to do that 🙂
I do think a bookmarking or digital mood board has value for a future design project, research, reference or event planning and would love to hear about any products or sites you’ve tried which would provide a platform to save links in different categories or a place to save a digital mood board with the option to be made private for personal use (versus publishing the images in a community setting). Any recommendations?