Yes, I have a bug up my butt about Pinterest and copyright.
Sorry. We all have our issues. This one is mine right now. I really do try to ignore it, but I’m attracted to it like a moth to flame. Or maybe it’s the other way around.
Yesterday, I was minding my own business when my wife posted this link to a Pinterest post about an indoor slide from Zillow‘s Pinterest account on my Facebook wall. My wife said she wanted one. I said go for it. So, what did I do next? I decided I wanted to go read about it on the source. Seems like a reasonable action on my part.
Finding the original source should be easy, right?
I mean, Pinterest terms of service clearly state that if you’re pinning something you must have the right to do so. So, theoretically I should be able to click on the image and go read more about this amazing slide I just saw. Much to my surprise, this was not the case. Ok. That’s a lie. I really didn’t expect to to be taken directly to the source. I also didn’t expect the rabbit hole of search I was about to enter. Over 25 painful minutes later, I finally found the original source. Today I retraced my steps in this video. Trust me, it was even more painful the second time.
The Rabbit Hole That Took Me To The Original Copyright Owner
So here’s the trail: Zillow’s Pinterest post >> Tumblr blog home page >> Tumblr post >> another Tumblr blog home page >> another Tumblr post >> another Tumblr post >> a deleted post >> back to the other Tumblr post >> another tumblr post >> the MyModernMet.com post >> Design-Milk.com >> failed searches on Design-Milk.com >> back to MyModernMet.com post >> to HomeDSGN.com home page >> several failed searches on the architect and keywords found in MyModernMet.com post >> search result for “condo slide on HomeDSGN.com >> HomeDSGN.com post >> Arhcitizer.com & Travis Dubreuil >> No luck finding original posts on Architizer. Like I said, it was painful. By the time I got that far, I was way past having the desire to find the original photos on Travis’ site.
It appears HomeDSGN.com initiated all of the original Pinterest and Tumblr love. I suppose they should feel good about getting the ball rolling, but in the end, neither they nor the original sources of the content got all of this link traffic that Tumblr and Pinterest generated. Someone else did.
And this leaves me scratching my head. When the person at Zillow repinned Alex Bohnet’s Pinterest post, did they give any thought at all to copyright? I doubt it, even though the Pinterest terms of service on clear on this subject:
“You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”
Who’s Going To Be The First To Challenge A Pinterest Or Tumblr User In Court?
I’m not an attorney, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so I’m delving into complete conjecture territory here. I just know how pissed I am when someone uses my Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr without respecting the simple to follow, free copyright. And I know what the legal definition of copyright infringement is. “As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.”
I have no idea what photo permissions Travis Dubreuil extended to Archetizer.com. I only know that it appears the copyright starts with him, the owner. If so, only he, through a written agreement, can assign those rights to others. I also have no idea if Zillow did the research I did, though I assume if they had, they would have gone as close to the source as possible and pinned the HomeDSGN.com post.
I have way more questions than answers. Here are a few of my questions: Would Travis Dubreuil win a copyright infringement case against Zillow? Or Pinterest? Or any of the Tumblr bloggers? Is there even a case? Maybe. Maybe not. Again, I’m not an expert on copyright law. But these are questions I’d probably want to have answers for if I’m Zillow, or any other corporation allowing it’s employees to post on Pinterest.
And there’s one final question I have. Does Travis even care that his photos are travelling around creating traffic and value for other people without his knowledge, permission, reward or recognition? I’m hoping Travis will find his way here and give me his thoughts as well. His opinion may be the most important.