May 18, 2012

The Battleground that is Pinterest

If any of my tiny number of readers have used Pinterest, I'm sure you're aware of the copyright issues currently being discussed in various online circles. As much as I've enjoyed using Pinterest to collect and sort inspiration images for my later perusal, I believe Pinterest has gone too far in defending Corporate America's interests.

Here is the letter I sent them after getting a rude surprise earlier today:

"I believe Two Butterflies on Blogspot, a website I had previously pinned images from, has been blocked for spam/inappropriate content in error, or blocked summarily with no recourse or conversation with the website owner. I am aware that Two Butterflies hosts giveaways, and is used as a portal by the owner for her Etsy store. However, if the owner violated the terms of service (or a PINNER who is not affiliated with Two Butterflies did) by pinning a link to a giveaway page, I believe it is an extreme reaction to block all access to Two Butterflies via Pinterest. Two Butterflies provides legitimate tutorials and inspiration to the online crafting community, for which Pinterest itself is a fantastic encyclopaedic tool.

Immediately after noting that a Two Butterflies page (AND a page that links to the post that interested me) were blocked, I noted that a blog that is new to me is blocked for the same reason (spam/inappropriate content). All the Good Girls go to Heaven on Blogspot also contains posts for crafting tutorials and inspiration. I also noted that the website has a SHOP page (which is "coming soon").

Call me overly suspicious, but in light of Two Butterflies' summary removal from the Pinterest community, I am led to wonder if the administration of Pinterest is on a blitz against crafters who happen to sell their creations, because even a third party pinning such a page constitutes a breach of Pinterest's Terms of Service/Acceptable Use Policy. Alternatively, I am aware of the copyright concerns that interested parties have regarding Pinterest. I had noted also that the two separate pages I had been interested in pinning (on both Two Butterflies and All the Good Girls...) both included reference to and a picture of an inspiration article owned by a mega-corporation (Anthropologie on Two Butterflies, and Mara Hoffman on All the Good Girls...). Due to the Fair Use clause of copyright law in United States (where I believe Pinterest is based), does not blocking access to those pages via Pinterest constitute Pinterest's denial of Fair Use? The copyrighted images are not being used to sell the article depicted in those images for which the owner of those images originally created them. The usage is being transferred to illustrative purposes by both Two Butterflies and All the Good Girls..., which falls under the umbrella of Fair Use. Mary Zachar explains the relevance of that distinction quite clearly in discussing a Google Fair Use issue.

Links to the pages in question:

Thank you for your time,

Anna Stebelskyj of Binary Catfish"


For clarity, All the Good Girls... uses an image "owned" by Mara Hoffman to illustrate her source of inspiration in the creation of a new, unique article. Technically, the photographer owns the photo, but the photo may be LICENCED to Mara Hoffman's corporate interests, hence her "ownership" of the photo in question.

In the case of Two Butterflies, the circumstances are precisely the same, with the photo of the original article serving to clarify the source of her inspiration. In this case, the photo may be "owned" by Anthropologie.

So, just to be clear, by TRANSFORMING THE PURPOSE of the copyrighted image, the usage is properly considered to be Fair Use. To quote Mary Zachar:

"One’s use of another’s content does not need to be transformative by transforming the original expression in the original work in order to be fair.  As Sony Corp. v. Universal City Studios, 464 U.S. 417, 448-50 (1984) made clear, a different use or purpose can be a fair use even without a transformation of the aesthetic expression."


It'll be interesting to see what their response to my email will be :D

Keep Crafty!

1 comment:

  1. I just had the same thing happen to my blog, and I don't even sell anything! It's a shame if people can just report your content as spam and Pinterest doesn't even give you a chance to respond before they shut you down. I am waiting to hear back from them.