Saturday 3 March 2012

The Problem with Pinterest

I write regularly for an ezine called A String of Pearls. The editor, Jane and I, independently came to the same conclusion about Pinterest this week. It was a big decision and unusually for me, I wanted to cross post it here to explain what I've decided to do.

It’s no secret to regular visitors to A String of Pearls that Jane and I are both very fond of Pinterest, the virtual pinboard. I naively thought that it was just a lovely alternative to bookmarking, a visual reminder of pretty and useful stuff that I found on line. Although I breezed through the terms and conditions, I did, to my shame, fail to understand their implication.

Last week I started to become concerned about Pinterest. The first inkling that all was not well with this newest social networking site was this article, about Pinterest making revenue directly from pins.   They are not disclosing the way in which they do this and they are modifying tracking codes. It just made me feel uncomfortable. It comes as no surprise then, that Yahoo has now forbidden pinning to take place from FlickR, the photo site they own. 

Then, particularly amongst the huge blogging community in the UK, more concerns started to be raised. This post by Jax at Live Otherwise illustrates the problem.  Potentially, by pinning someone else’s stuff, you are giving away their copyright without their express consent.  Pinterest did respond to the concerns raised by many by adding a code so that websites could add to prevent pinning to take place, but that places the onus on websites, not Pinterest. 

Copyright is a muddy business, and laws vary across countries, and Pinterest have not, as yet, as far as I know, been tested in court. However there is a strong odour of unfairness  about Pinterest, and broadscale copyright infringements may be taking place right under our cybernoses. It worries me that I may have been, quite unwittingly, performing a crime.

At the very least, Pinterest are making money from other people’s intellectual property. At worst they are encouraging every day people to break the law. Neither Jane nor myself would buy a pirate movie, or tape record a CD so the use of Pinterest, now we have a better understanding of the implications, does not sit well with us.

It has been a big decision but we feel strongly we have no option but to remove the Pinterest button from A String of Pearls and disable our accounts for the foreseeable future, until thiese issues are resolved to our satisfaction.


  1. :-O We're breaking the law!

  2. How do pinterest make money? They don't have ads as far as I can see...?

  3. Thanks for linking to my post. It bewilders me how many users are just continuing with pinterest as it stands - hardly adding to any impetus for them to change their terms and conditions!

  4. Baffling to me as well, there was that flurry of twitter the other day and then nothing, but hey ho, first to thine own self be true and all that.

  5. Not necessarilly but it is dodgy ground, I have deleted my account now...

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