Pinterest – More of the Same

Well, today Pinterest released their revised terms of service and while I’m glad to see they’ve removed the language about “selling” things that are pinned, but I never thought that was a real thing to begin with. How were they to know whether material ‘pinned’ to their site was done so by someone who had the right to enter into that agreement in the first place?

I look forward to hearing an actual lawyer’s take on the new TOS, but as far as I can tell, the liability issue remains, I still see an indemnification section that says you’re responsible for ponying up the cash to pay for any lawsuits as a result of your use of their service. This goes back to the original catch 22 of Pinterest. The TOS say you will only pin things you are legally allowed to yet the site etiquette requests that you not self-promote. That leaves something that is licensed under creative commons or has legitimately passed into public domain.

The liability issue leaves me occasionally pinning my own work, even though I’m breaking the etiquette rule and liking/commenting on what my friends share. I don’t have time to ferret out whether or not I otherwise have the legal right to share. The funny thing is that Pinterest need not worry much about users being concerned that their activities could be illegal. Here’s Exhibit A:

Exhibit A - Too Busy to Read Pinterest Terms

Exhibit A - Too Busy to Read

And while it’s a little scary that people don’t take the time to read things they agree to, I totally understand it. How often do any of us read the entirety of the TOS for websites and software we use every day? More often than not the fine print is something you’d need a law degree to entirely digest anyway.

What is  more upsetting to me is this attitude:

Exhibit B - It's your Fault I stole your stuff

Exhibit B - You made it Too Easy to Steal

Wow…  I know that X amount of the work I share online manages to wander off into the netherworld of the internet where it does things I probably don’t want to know about it, but that was a choice made by someone, not me. I know the internet makes it seem easy to take, but let’s consider how you’d feel if the police told you that you left your front door unlocked, so it’s your fault your home was robbed? Sorry, you accidentally left the keys in the ignition of your car, but that meant it was free to be taken! It really is a finders-keepers-losers-weepers kind of mentality!

I’m definitely among the more lax in this area. I know people who spend many hours of their weeks searching out the uncredited and unapproved use of their work online. That’s a level I can’t see myself taking. It’s spending more of your time policing the internet than creating new work, and the people who steal like that were never going to buy a print or license your work for anything. Now, if they’re profiting off that use, I’ll be there in a hot minute – that’s another thing altogether! That I take seriously!

And still I find the idea that I’ve somehow given up the right to my work by sharing it online as absurd and offensive. Don’t be that person in Exhibit B, folks!

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