With 10 million unique visitors a month, Pinterest — the scrapbooking site with an addictive visual interface — is rapidly becoming the most influential social media platform in food. If you haven’t used Pinterest, imagine a digital version of tearing out photos from food magazines and pinning them to a kitchen bulletin board for inspiration. Many food blogs and websites (including CHOW.com) now have “Pin It” buttons so it’s easy for readers to share the sites’ recipe photos on Pinterest, and many of those sites are seeing big increases in referrals (i.e., site visitors) as a result. Trouble is, as with most rapid rises in prominence, Pinterest is feeling some unexpected growing pains, if not the rumblings of a backlash.
After Pinterest’s trove of copyrighted content became the subject of a legal debate, the popular social site made efforts to automatically add citations to content from specific sources. On Wednesday, it announced that it had expanded this practice to five new sites.
Since May, the feature had added citations to any content Pinned from Flickr, YouTube, Behance or Vimeo. Now content Pinned from photography community 500px, Etsy, Kickstarter, Slideshare and SoundCloud will enjoy the same automatic citations — which can’t be edited.
Some have suggested that the large amount of copyrighted, unattributed content that has been copied to Pinterest’s servers creates a legal problem for the site.
Why are some photographers anti-pinterest?
Many photographers fear Pinterest because anyone can “pin” an image of theirs and all copyright is stripped away. This isn’t necessarily true, because the link to the originally pinned location is still there. So, you can think of it as a hyperlink that just happens to be a visual thumbnail instead of boring text like “Awesome Photo of Disneyworld.”
Instead, now we think of Pinterest as sort of an amuse-bouche. If people are interested, they will follow links to find out who actually took the photo. Perhaps they want a print. Or maybe they would like to license the image to use for an advertising campaign or on a commercial website. Either way, people that are willing to pay you money will do their best to track you down.
Most people in the world are good people. If they find digital art they want to buy for a print or use in a commercial campaign, they will figure out a way to get you money. 99% of your traffic is truly “window-shoppers.” They will look at your goods, take note, enjoy them and move on. But 1% will want to make a personal or business transaction with you.
Despite what fear-mongers have told you, everyone will not steal your images. Most legitimate companies will work out a proper licensing arrangement with you. Most people do not steal, and on those edge cases where it does happen, you have many reactive options.
Why Pinterest Is Important For Photographers
Pinterest’s power comes from it’s incredibly viral nature. People can share things with just a click, and because it’s so visual (and we’re in the visual business) it’s an incredible tool for marketing.
Not only that, but it can drive an insane amount of traffic to your website when someone with lots of followers pins something from your website. In fact, Pinterest was our highest traffic generator last month to this site beating Facebook by about 20%!
Another fabulous thing about Pinterest is that the links are “do-follow” links, meaning they will help you rank better in search results. Now, they won’t necessarily get a lot of weight because there are so many links, but the sheer mass of links may help a bit.
Pinterest is also a great way to help serve your clients. When you can point them to a board of resources that have been created just for them and their needs, it leaves a positive impression on them and makes them feel more excited about working with you.
So what now? Pinterest is such an innovative platform for browsing the Web, has a great community, is much adored (even by some of the same folks raising issues over it!), and is driving tons of traffic back to sites that could potentially get upset over copyright issues, it seems like this might be little more than a bump in the road. And given how proactive the company (and in particular Silbermann) has been about soliciting feedback and contacting concerned users, it seems extremely unlikely that Pinterest will go the way of Napster.