On Pinterest

The more I think about it the more I think that if you want to “protect” your images while still being able to place them online, you need to not only join Pinterest, you have to be real active. I don’t necessarily think it’s “right” that you have to join a site you have no real interest in to protect your work, but the online world is constantly evolving — and Pinterest seems to have reached critical mass — and I think it’s important creatives stay on top of things.

It’s true, Pinterest has released code you can ad to your site that will stop simple “pinning”, but all this will probably mean is that people who still want to pin your image, or worse, claim it as their own, will simply save the image off your site and upload it directly.

In doing this, you’ll lose the one tenuous link between your image and your site, as if users pin the image from your site, not only is your website URL displayed on their “board”, but also, should people click on the image, they’ll be taken to your site.

From our point of view, aside from quite enjoying Pinterest, the promise of traffic is what we’re focused on. So far, that traffic has been extremely modest – a couple of visits a day. To be fair, on our humble Pinterest page, we only have 30 people following us and have pinned just shy of 100 pics — not all of which are Travelfish.org pics (so there is zero traffic benefit there). With a bit of time we could probably pin 1,000 images and the traffic would grow — especially if we were to work a bit harder growing our audience there. I remember when Facebook sent us just a couple of visits a day — it’s now our number two source of referral traffic.

Some photographers are rightly concerned about the prospect of losing control of their images, or the concern that within Pinterest’s terms they claim the right to resell the image. Two thoughts on this:

1) Don’t post or pin high-res full-size images. Set your images at a maximum of say 600 pixels. It looks all nice in a web browser but it will make for a crappy postcard.

2) Check your contracts with magazines you license images to. Do they have the right to post them to a 3rd party site like Pinterest? If so, bear in mind that if they do, the image will be linked to their website — not yours. That is a problem.

In participating on Pinterest, you’re in a position to establish your board(s) as the authorative Pinterest site for your work and I think, longer term, this will become very important.

As Pinterest continues to grapple with the obvious copyright issues, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to expect some kind of algorithmic solution, where when an image of yours is pinned by someone else, Pinterest somehow determines your image is the “original” and the source links are changed accordingly.

Not convinced?
Then you need to add <meta name="pinterest" content="nopin" /> to your site to make it more difficult for people to pin your images. Then as people continue to do so anyway (though as there won’t be a link back to your site, I’m not sure how you’ll even figure this out) file DMCA notices as detailed here. Enjoy your Sundays ;-)

I think it is all a bit early to flog them to death over this — the affiliate thing for starters turns out to have been a bit of a non-issue — but they’ll need some kind of income stream down the track and I’ll take skim links over Google Adsense thanks!