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Pinterest is taking off in a big way. The virtual pin board site lets you visually organize favorite projects, wish lists, tips, recipes, and books. Or pretty pictures like this shot of a gerber daisy that my son recently took. With Pinterest, you can use a special little bookmarklet to add the image to one of your boards. Other people might see the picture on Pinterest and think it’s lovely and RE-pin it to one of their boards. There is some really cool stuff showing up on Pinterest.
But here’s the rub. While Pinterest allows users to share some great inspirational images, it’s also opening up a can of copyright worms that’s working its way across social media. I noticed several months ago that many of the images on my Pinterest feed were also showing up on Facebook pages that I followed. But instead of sharing the image as a link that would take viewers to the original post or even to the pin board they’d found it on, people were uploading the image directly to their Facebook photo albums. On Pinterest, folks are sharing images without maintaining the link to the original source.
Hello, copyright infringement!
As an author, I’m acutely aware of copyright issues. My work has been plagiarized and turned in as student work, and it’s shown up on websites – copied verbatim – under another person’s byline. Those incidents notwithstanding, most of us were taught in school that it’s not cool to plagiarize the written word. But photos are another matter entirely. Who didn’t cut National Geographic images from magazines to enhance a geography report? While our teachers recognized that using an author’s words as our own was unfair use, utilizing a photographer’s work without proper credit didn’t give them pause.