Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pinterest: boon or bane for the artist?

In my circle of friends there is a lot of buzz right now about Pinterest. Seems like everyone is joining, pinning and repinning. Most of my friends who are moms use it to get recipes or home remodel ideas. I have an account but have only played with it a few times. However now that I have a bit more free time and also get to do more research for illustration I have been paying more attention to it.

From an illustration perspective, it seems like a great tool for organizing your thoughts,  keeping track for artists that inspire you and even promoting your own work. Just last week I created two new boards devoted to the craft of others as well as my own work. With respect to my own work, my thought was that on Pinterest people who are not my followers will have an easy way to see it and if they do, they might click through to my blog and I will get a bit of exposure.

This all sounds good and innocent enough but just I was beginning to get comfortable I started coming upon a slew of articles and blog posts about Pinterest's copyright policy and as is common with social networks and the fine print, things started looking very scary.

Silvia Liu, an illustrator I recently started following on Google+ did a very nice post on the value of Pinterest from the artist's perspective but put a cautionary note with blog links that present a much darker picture.

This article from Direct Match Media forwarded to me by my friend Kristy Davis really drove the dangers home for me. More specifically this part of Pinterest's service agreement sounds down right terrifying: as the content owner whose content was pinned on Pinterest you grant them "worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services." I do realize that as the content owner you can opt out of being pinned directly from your site but if you are an artist and someone saves your image and then uploads it directly to Pinterest there is nothing you can do. I guess you can put a huge watermark on every image???

I still see value in Pinterest for me as a consumer but I am on the fence about how I am going to proceed from here. I have to be honest, and say that I use Facebook a lot and even knowing how atrocious their privacy policy is, I still end up posting a huge amount of personal information there. I try to keep abreast of all the privacy changes and keep my friends list pretty tightly controlled but I also understand that once the info is out there, it's not that hard for strangers to get a hold of it. The difference here is that on Facebook I am dealing with information that I and others willingly provided to them. All of us on FB are opt-in users. Pinterest, on the other hand assumes that everyone on the web is a willing Pinterest user unless they actively opt out.

The jury is out, but from now on I will think long and hard about whether my pinning something from a site I like will likely benefit or harm the content author.


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