February 23, 2012

Originality and copyright

It is really almost impossible to create something truly original these days, streams of influence flow from all directions and usually in a good way they serve to stir the imagination and work together to energise creative flow. But, on the other hand, there is a line, however difficult to  define or police, between inspiration and blantantly copying. You may have heard on other blogs or twitter in the last few days, the design team at Tatty Devine has a major bone to pick with the chainstore, Claire's. Check out their case here, it is pretty shocking and disheartening.

It is out of respect for artists' copyright that I have decided, rather sadly, to pull my accounts at Pinterest and Tumblr - I just cannot condone the widespread lack of crediting original artists/designers/photographers that seems to be exploding in scale, it doesn't seem fair and it makes them vulnerable to potential artistic/intellectual theft.  Sue's blog post here was the clincher, just take a look at Pinterest's small print as quoted there- if I understand correctly, they retain rights to use as they like all content of pins. It seems rather open ended and scary and I don't want any part of it. And yet it is such a shame, because the site is so much fun and there is so much real potential for useful and creative connections between people. Gah, I'm conflicted about it.

So, I am sorry if you were enjoying following my pin boards and I hope you understand.

What do you think about these issues - is whining about copying a bore and outdated or is it a valid concern do you think? Always really interested to hear your views whether I share them or not. xx

p.s. on a much cheerier note, I am guest blogging (my top 10 list of things that make life lovely here at Wild Acre) at the gorgeous blog that is Small but Charming today, do hop over. Thanks for having me over, Jane!


  1. This is such a difficult area I think - I'm hearing stories like this each day - but... I also hear stories of discovery, licensing agreements, collaborations and fabulous business contracts too - I'm with you all the way down the line - if you use an image not your own, you must give the relevant credits. Wow, I feel nervous too now.

  2. I think if you have taken the time and trouble to create something, anything, to want that acknowledged is not unreasonable.

  3. The lack of attribution in many blogs bothers me a lot. If it is not the bloggers photo than the source should be noted. I just started on Pinterest about a month ago and went pretty crazy. At first I was putting the source and then I got lazy/addicted to pinning all those pretty pictures. You can, if you click twice on a pinned picture, get back to the source the original pinner pulled it from. Of course if it was originally pinned from a source without attribution that's a problem. I think the person who first pins something should be required to list the source and that should carry over to all repins. I don't really see how Pinterest can legally retain the right to content. Am going to read the post you mentioned now.

  4. I've never used pinterest or any of those sites as I've been aware for a long time of the issues surrounding them and I always look at the small print, especially on photo related things, as it is not uncommon for sites to 'steal' things uploaded by others, I've heard of it many time before and microsoft used to do it and steal ideas from other programmers and developers then market them as their own! My man is an I.T. guy so I hear a lot of things from him and so am always wary. I agree with you and Sue and think you're right to just ditch pinterest! I've heard a lot of bloggers talking about it this week.

    I think any one of us would be very angry to discover one of our photos or ideas or creations being used my someone else without the correct acknowledgement or permissions and so I think it's important to stand up for copyright issues and any similar areas.

  5. I blogged about the Pinterest issue on Friday and got some interesting responses. The clincher is when you agree to Pinterest's terms and conditions you are basically agreeing that you will only pin stuff that is your copyright or that you have permission from the copyright holder to post or that is out of copyright. But people want to pin instantly not wait for an originator to reply to an email, and anyway, who bothers to read the small print. I'm with you, I'm worried, but my readers tell me not everyone is.

  6. I love Pinterest, but it is a minefield of copyright issues. I'm fine with people pinning stuff from my blog, but then I'm not an artist or crafts person trying to sell my work. My daughter is studying illustration and I've told her to add a watermark to any images on her blog. I try to avoid pinning things from Tumblr and like to trace the source but I'm going to check my pins and tidy them up. xx

  7. It is definitely a valid concern! I personal do not join pinterest and I was rather shocked when I recently found hundreds of my own photos on pinterest taken off my blog.

    Of course one could see it as a compliment, but I just don't like it! Copying ideas, copying everything and...and....

    There is no problem to use other peoples or photographers creativity here and there and giving credit to them. But why cannot people or blogger being somewhat original?

    However - as interesting as pinterest might be - I think it's a pest! Sorry! Too easy for lazy people who do not want to make or spend any effort by finding images.


    sorry about my English

  8. This has been on my mind a lot lately since reading comments about Pinterest on a couple of other blogs. In my naivety, Pinterest to me has simply been a way for me to bookmark sites I'd like to refer to another time. Tutorials for things I want to make, design ideas for my home and inspiring photos for prettying up my life! Saves me creating a load of bookmarks on my Mac. I think Pinterest is a fantastic tool for promoting your business and your designs and it is hugely complimentary if your work is pinned, providing global exposure. It provides another platform for marketing your products and I would have imagined it had been quite positive for small businesses, crafters and artists. It surprises me that there is now such a lot of bad feeling about it.

    I've never seen a pin for something that didn't refer to its origination but maybe that's just me and I haven't seen the 'dark side'! I don't use Pinterest excessively.

    In terms of copying, I have such sympathy with the people whose items are copied so blatantly. But, you know, this has been happening for years and I think it's just one of those things. With reference to Tatty Devine, it is shocking just how exact the copies are but I do think you can tell the difference between the original and the copy. And, in a bizarre way I think that cheap copies just make the originals more desirable for many people. Look at how many designer clothes are copied by New Look and the like each season. Easy for me to be so blase, I know, when I haven't been affected.

    Unfortunately, with the internet being as accessible as it is, the second you post a photo or text there is always the potential for your ideas to be pinched or your content to be copied. I think you just need to deal with the pros and the cons of using the internet to promote your designs/products/ideas. As a business, to prevent against loss of revenue, I think you just need to take all steps to protect yourself from plagiarism and deal with it quickly and effectively when you become aware of it.

    What a waffly old comment from me. I do love a good debate!

    Nicki xx

    PS I was going to pin some of your posts in a new folder on my Pinterest account to help me remember what flowers I'd like to plant when I do my cut flowers patch. Am I still allowed?! :-)

  9. It is only necessary for you to whine about copyright, because there's a perception on the internet that everything is free. It's there, I'll take it. I'm quietly shocked by sites like Piratebay.

    Sad that pinterest is making problems for artists. Your jewellery IS unique to you and entitled to have its copyright defended. My blog photos are not professional work for sale, but they are mine, my idea, my time. I watermark my photos in the clear understanding that a thief can blur that out. But I slow him down, like locking the car door, instead of leaving the keys in the ignition. And I squash my photos, so the quality is not suitable for printing.

  10. Thanks for your really interesting comments on this issue. I still feel conflicted about it - there are so many ways that sharing files across different platforms is so useful and brilliant for small business and creativity generally (as you mentioned jennifer and Nicki), but the potential for copyright theft and dishonesty is there I think. In pinterest, which I may now be really missing a marketing trick with let alone the fun, i found that a lot of pins were not clearly credited particularly if they come from tumblr accounts and it is the Pinterest small print about their rights to use images as they see fit since permission is taken as given, is just uncomfortable for me. If I pinned the work of an artist I really admire, only to have it used by Pinterest in the future or grabbed by another pinner and used dishonestly I would feel horrible (and be potentially liable I believe for broaching copyright??) - because the thing is I don't think I would have the time to find and contact each original artist/crafter etc and ask for their permission and wait for an answer - i wonder what percentage of pinners do this, a miniscule number i imagine and yet is is required by Pinterest in their terms. All a bit disingenuous with their grab and pin marketing. Hmmm, I just don't know whether I am making a mountain out of a mole hill, since images and designs can be pinched from whereever they are posted on the net,maybe a case of worrying about fine details when the issue is prevalant everywhere??

  11. I agree with you, Belinda, totally. It is so refreshing to see someone prepared to act on their convictions!

  12. While I have not visited Pinterest (sorry, I am dull!) but I have long worried about the entire Internet infringing on all sorts of copyrights. There is just no way to protect your interest once you post something/anything. I worry about the lovely jewelry that you post on your very own blog, or Etsy store (if you had one). Once someone sees it and likes it, you have virtually no way to stop them from copying it - like Claire's.

    I think it is one of the huge holes in the Internet. I think the early developers expected people to use good will ... but you know how that goes with those who don't have good will.

  13. I have found this issue to be totally mind-boggling. Ever since I entered the blogging world I have been reading and trying to sort out how the crediting of photos works....it still seems way too easy! I feel very conflicted about all of it and pinterest really puts it over the edge. I listened to the founder speak at a conference and loved the way he related it to his love of "collecting stuff" as a kid....he showed pictures of a bug collection. It was cool. Made me think, "ok so it's like a teacup or stamp collection" only I didn't buy any teacups or stamps (or collect any bugs for that matter). It is the broader implication though that stops me....a photo is someone's work that in order to collect I should like to exchange something (money, another photo, at the very least...a credit).

    btw, loved your 10 things!

  14. I've just read an item by MAKING A MARK on this very subject and you can protect yourself on your blog and website by entering a bit of code - read here http://makingamark.blogspot.com/2012/02/pinterest-how-to-prevent-your-blogger.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+MakingAMark+%28Making+a+Mark%29

  15. I have been thinking about what you said and how I use Pinterest. I am a new user of Pinterest and enjoy it but I only follow 3 people and I never repin any images from the site, or indeed browse any photos on it. You may be wondering why on earth I use it! Well, I use it purely as a personal image board, for photos that give me inspiration, like garden birds or flowers, where I may need a ref eg. how many petals on a hardy geranium or what a robin looks like close up. I make sure I credit every image. I am sorry that you had to make this decision but I fully understand why. I have never even heard of tumblr! Kx

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  17. Thought this might be a useful quote from the Pinterest terms and conditions: "you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a 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 am concerned that artists/photographers that I might want to pin from might not agree to this if they were aware of it?