Monday, December 3, 2012

To pin or not to pin...

Pinterest... all the rage on the internet and the bane of my existence lately. So much infringing going on and many aren't aware that what they're pinning isn't legal.

Pinterest in itself is copyright violation if you think about it. If you didn't take the picture and didn't ask permission to pin it from the person who did create it, then realistically speaking, in black and white terms of copyright law, it is an infringement of copyright. People don't mind some things being pinned, especially when credit and links are given, but some things are just blatantly illlegal.

Sure there is an upside to sites like Pinterest - they are free advertising to a designer such as myself. So then why is it "the bane of my existence"? One person unknowingly pins an illegal posting of a chart. 10 more people repin it from there. And then ten more people repin from each of those, and so on, and so on. Many of those people probably don't know that it was an illegal copy, it was listed in so and so's Pinterest board as a freebie. Well, yesterday I spent 7 hours wading through Pinterest infringements, most of which had been pinned as "freebies", and most of which were never free. And I didn't even scratch the surface. Just because someone uploaded it for free to a photo hosting site or a blog doesn't make it a freebie!!!

So how do you know what you should and shouldn't pin? I see a lot of people commenting that it's hard to know what's legitimate and what isn't. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Is it a photograph of a model or a chart cover? Is credit given to the designer? Go right ahead. Best if it links back to our website or blog, but most will tell you it's also okay if it links to a legitimate shop that sells the design too. Also best if it's not followed by the caption, "does anyone have this they can email to me?".

Is it a photograph of another stitcher's work or finishing ideas? Probably good etiquette to ask their permission before pinning their pictures, or at least make sure they get the credit for their ideas by linking back to their site.

In terms of free designs, it gets a little foggier.

Each designer has their own terms of how a free design is released to the world.

If a designer posted it on their website for download, then it is always best to give the link to people who want the design rather than simply forwarding the design itself around to people - this includes pinning it on pinterest. If the pin links to the original posting on the designer's website, most will agree that it is okay - the idea behind most free designs is to increase traffic to a designer's website after all. If it links to anywhere else, you should err on the side of caution before pinning it and ASK the designer first. If that's too much hassle, best not to pin it.

If a designer created a free design expressly for distribution through shops, as a gift to newsletter subscribers, or to discussion group members, then it is ILLEGAL to distribute the design and upload it to the internet even though you got it free. The point being that it was meant to get people to subscribe to that newsletter, join that discussion group or buy from a shop. Copyright on a free design is the same as on a paid design - the only person who has the right to determine how that chart is distributed is the designer. If you don't see it available for free on the designer's site there is a reason for it - don't pin it or ask the designer before you do.

And of course the obvious - designs that were never intended to be "free" - these should NEVER be pinned. If you see them pinned, best to notify the designer so they can have them removed. 

So how do you know what's what? Some good ways to tell what's legal and what's not.

Does it look as though it's been scanned or photocopied? Then it's probably not legal. Scanning a chart - even a free one - is never legal except to make a working copy for your own use. The ONLY exception to this is if the design states on it that YOU may distribute the chart - not many do.

Where did you find it? If you found it anywhere other than the designer's site, here are some things to look out for:

Is the site in a foreign language, but the designer is not foreign, for example, the design itself is in English but the site you found it on is in Russian? This is a good indication that it's not legal. If a designer sees you pinning one of their designs from a site like this, even a free design, they're likely to ask Pinterest remove it.

Did it come from someone's photo album on a site like picasa, photobucket, or facebook? Another good indication that it's not legal - unless you know for a fact that it is the designer's page. Pinning a design - even a free one - from a site like this without permission from the designer is not okay.

If in doubt, ASK. We're not monsters. We don't mind answering questions about this stuff. Sometimes you may be met with exasperation, but it's not you we're exasperated with - it's the hours and hours of wading through pinterest that we have to look forward to from that link you sent us. But PLEASE do send them because we may not have found it on our own. 

While pinning stuff may seem innocuous, it really isn't. Think of it this way - you may not have meant any harm, and most of the people who visit your pinterest page and repin your stuff probably don't mean any harm either, but there are always those who will follow that link you posted to that illegal page and with a few clicks, find all those hundreds and thousands of other illegal charts posted there - and then of course spread those illegal charts and links around to all their friends. Those people simply don't care if it's legal or not. And now because of that one seemingly innocuous link you posted and dozens of people repinned, dozens more people are now downloading masses of illegal charts and you're responsible for that. Sucks, but it's true. And in a most cases, it only takes a few seconds to check first, especially knowing what I've posted above.

Pinterest - it is YOUR responsibility to know that what you are pinning isn't breaking the law - so please use it responsibly!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. So far I have only pinned things directly from a designer's site that specifically says it is a free chart. I will be more careful when looking for things to pin or (re-pin).