Pinterest board

Photographers, Copyrights and the Pinterest revolution

A couple weeks ago I got my sights on Pinterest. Being a Fashion Photographer and a Social Media marketer myself, I had to get my hands on and see how it works.

Pinterest has become the new bright star in the Social Media sky. Why? According to a Shareaholic study, Pinterest beats YouTube, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace for % of total referral traffic in January.

The company became popular by its feature of boards where people can pin (share) pictures they like with others.

Pinterest board

So, how this could be good for Photographers? Isn’t all that Pinning Copyright Infringement?

According to their Copyright Disclaimer, “Pinterest (“Pinterest”) respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects its users to do the same. It is Pinterest’s policy, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, to disable and/or terminate the accounts of users who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of others.”
<http://pinterest.com/about/copyright/>

More so, they encourage using links to the original source: “Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source. If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry.”

And leaves the door open for those individuals or companies who don’t want their images pinned to add a small piece of code to the head of any page on their site and block pins from them. <http://support.pinterest.com/entries/21063792-what-if-i-don-t-want-images-from-my-site-to-be-pinned>

Mostly, the company relies in the “fair use” <a href:http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107> of images to permit limited and reasonable uses without permission as long as they do not prejudice the copyright owner’s rights or interfere with normal exploitation of the work. The classic example of fair use is the quotation from a book being reviewed. Since an author usually does not review his own book, the impact of the quotation on his interests should be minimal.

The fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as review, criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. <http://www.photoattorney.com/?p=299> Thus, fair use is intended to allow the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials for the benefit of society, believing such use serves a higher purpose.

So, what’s in a Pin for us Photographers?

The more ways people spread images of your work the better it is for you in terms of marketing, branding and SEO. That is why I believe so strongly in Pinterest. I think you should have the Pin It button on your site and encourage your visitors to use it.

My advice, share your images as much as you can, and encourage people to share them for you BUT watermark anything that is published on the web. Why watermark? Some of the most popular social media sites, strip metadata from photos when they’re uploaded to their servers to reduce the “weight” of the file, so when someone downloads from them, watermark is the only way to conect that photo to you or your site.

Photos can be downloaded, Alt-Print Screen copied, scanned, re-photographed… there are so many ways technology makes possible to get copies of images everywhere that you will never be completely able to keep your images from being shared online, nor do I think you should. Re-post your images everywhere you can, but be smart about it. Watermark your images and always post them on your own website and re-post from there so the image always links back to your primary marketing tool.

Just like any other social media, if you are using this for business, think about what you pin. The pins you choose will help you reach more people, which eventually can become customers. As in all business, Photography Services sales it’s always about numbers.

 
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