Discussing Pinterest...

I've been debating with myself whether to post this or not - I don't usually wade into these discussions within the blog world but this time I think its important that I say what I want to say... Please be aware though that this is only my opinion from reading other articles, researching and drawing my own conclusions, this is not legal advice.
After 3 years of blogging, I often feel like a 'blogging old biddy', watching the blogosphere grow with new blogs arriving, older blogs quietly fading away and myself, plodding along steadily, sharing my photos, trying to support others and do what I do. Most of the time, I watch/read and feel incredibly proud and sometimes I just shake my head, a bit bemused.
This time however, I am, to be frank - angry and frustrated...
Not long after starting my blog, I decided that I wasn't happy reblogging other peoples work, or using other peoples photos on posts - for one, I didn't want to upset other bloggers/photographers by taking their work and using it, and the complications of copyright, licensing and stealing honestly just disturbed me... so I started taking my own photos to share on here and I guess really, that is one of the main reasons that my photos came about - they are mine to share and post here under my terms and I value that.
Sometimes I find something so amazing that I want to share it with you and in those cases, I approach the blogger/photographer and ask for their permission before I post it on here... for me it is the right thing to do. Of course, I'm not saying everyone has to do that - in fact Pia, Erin and Yvette have already put together a fantastic poster that essentially covers everything you should think about before posting other peoples images anywhere and if you do have any doubts, I highly recommend it as a great place to start.
Pinterest came around at very convenient time for me - I was in the process of deleting my Tumblr and even though my Tumblr was very pretty and easy on the eye, it was full of reblogged entries without sources or credit and as hard as I tried, there was no way for me to make it right or feel comfortable with the process, so I deleted it.

Pinterest seemed different - first, it was a site that always had the sources of the images available and I loved that - if I shared something with people then they could immediately get to the source themselves and know whose work it was, I still think that this is something amazing about the site and I love the community feel about it. I also love the concept of it and the fact that it seems to be such a great way to share things with my friends as well as bookmark things for myself.

So, why I am I frustrated?
I am frustrated because as a blogger - etiquette, copyright, licensing, right of use and doing things properly is important to me, as an artist, the use of my work and terms that are applied to them are important to me and as a member of the Pinterest community, my legal responsibilites and protection  are important to me. And if these things are important to you too, then I think you should be equally as frustrated.

So, why the Pinterest confusion?

A lot of people are confused about Pinterest because even on About page - Pinterest says that it is a virtual pinboard. It says that Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web." However, when you read the terms, you realise that this isn't what it lets you do.

How do the Pinterest terms affect you as a 'Pinner'?
First, to pin any content, you agree that "You are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site"- you "are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content" or what you are uploading will not "infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights"
So either you own the content, or it is content that you or Pinterest will not get in trouble for using.

 Of course, if this was a blogging site then that would seem fine -I would be happy with that - I do only post images on here which are mine, or images that I will not get in trouble for using - by asking for permission to use them on my blog. But Pinterest isn't a blog and it doesn't claim to be... and how do you 'find' something that you already own? 

Secondly, Pinterest contradicts its own terms by saying 'Credit your Sources' and 'Avoid Self Promotion'. If I am crediting my sources then that means I am not using images that I own, and more likely - images that I would actually get in trouble for using... I love the idea of crediting when sharing, but not if it means that I am actually declaring that I own something which I don't. Also, how do I avoid self promotion if the only thing that I have the right to pin are items that I own?
So the chances are that, due to the Pinterest terms, the fact that you probably don't own all the images you pin, and the fact that most images will be protected by copyright, patent or trademark somehow - you are illegally pinning images onto your boards.

Of course, this may never be an issue for you - it's only really an issue if the person who actually owns the content rightfully makes a fuss about this.

However just because something is unlikely to happen, this does not make it right. 

Unbelievably, this isn't actually the part that actually upsets me the most - in many ways, like Tumblr, this would just make me delete my account and I probably will, as I don't want to declare images as mine when they aren't and that is fine, it is my choice, I can't agree to their terms if I want to use their site the way that it is intended.

How do the Pinterest terms affect you as a content owner?

(Update 27.03.2012 - Pinterest have updated their terms to address the following,
so this is no longer relevant)

  As a photographer/owner of content this is where I get very upset and confused and to be honest, its also the point at where Pinterest stops being a nice, social, sharing website site for me. Not only do you first have to declare that you own the pin when you agree to the Pinterest terms, but also:

"By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sub license, 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"

Um, I'm sorry, but what? Why is this even there? Why do Pinterest need licence for most of these things?! Public display, I understand... that is effectively what their site does - but modify? licence? SELL?! To who? Why?
Why would I upload my own images onto Pinterest so that they could use them like that? For free? 

Now I'm not saying that Pinterest have sold any images, as far as I'm aware, they don't... but the very existence of this term, means that they could, although I can imagine it is unlikely.
However just because something is unlikely to happen, this does not make it right.

So why does Pinterest have these terms?

I'm not stupid, you're not stupid... we all understand at some level about copyrighting, stealing, right of use... and Pinterest to be fair to them are just trying to cover their own backs, however in doing so they have made their site redundant. Although you can pin your own content to share legally, you have to agree to some very specific terms as to what Pinterest can then do with those images and try as you might, you can not 'share all the beautiful things you find on the web" lawfully.

What others have said:

But isn't that similar to an image of yours coming up in a Google search?

Ok, now that is tough – as far as I am aware and can find out - legally it’s not the same, as Google do not have terms that mean they have the licensing agreements “to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content”. Google complies with Fair Use policies and is therefore a reference tool for the public.

In theory Pinterest could be viewed as the same, but as soon as it asks for a ‘worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license’ of content, then their intentions have changed – that statement alone means that the content isn’t just for public or fair use, but that it can be used for Pinterests gain. 
If you upload content onto the internet then you are at risk anyway, how is this different?

Like I said before, I am not stupid and you are not stupid. Most photographers/artists/content owners work very hard to make sure that they retain the licencing to their work and if they do upload it onto the internet then it is on their terms - my photos are mostly on here (where I have my little note and copyright buttons) and on Flickr - whose terms I am happy with. I don't put my images onto Facebook, I don't trust them and most of my images are on here are through Flickr as I don't trust Blogger at the moment, especially with Google+.
And again, just because it happens elsewhere, it doesn't make it right.
So now what and how did this happen?
Honestly, I don't know... in some ways I am more frustrated with myself for not taking the time to find out about Pinterest properly, but at the same time, Pinterest contradicts itself and suggests that it is something which it isn't... It seemed so good - you shared, you credited, no one got hurt, but of course, that's not how things work out. I can see what it wants to be and I love the concept, but its current terms mean that there is no way it can be used as it was originally intended and with the complications of copyright, licensing, right of use and fair use laws, I have no idea how they can rectify the situation.
All I can do is remove the pins that I have put on there and perhaps even ask people to remove my photos from their boards with a heavy heart - I've already been approached by someone to do that and I was happy to oblige.
I hope this helps people understand a little bit and you can understand my frustration with the matter - I am not 100% certain that I am correct on all these points, but this is how I see them after researching as much as I could and reading and rereading the Pinterest terms and until I can see a way that this isn't how it is, then I don't think I can keep using Pinterest in the same way as I did before.

So, what do you think about Pinterest? How do you see the situation?

Further reading:
The Window Seat - where I first read about it and probably a more concise read. haha.
Blogging with Amy - an interesting read with tips for bloggers included.

p.s. if you read all of this, you are a hero!