PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Two Photographers Weigh in on Pinterest
With all of the recent Crafthaus and Facebook discussions regarding artists’ concerns about social media sites like Pinterest,
http://crafthaus.ning.com/profiles/blogs/standing-at-the-crossroads..., http://crafthaus.ning.com/profiles/blogs/pinterest-the-huge-concern... https://www.facebook.com/groups/310882667610/10150583577122611/
I wanted to know what photographers thought of these sites, especially since they hold the copyrights to their photos while giving the artists they work with permission to use the images. Pat Jarrett and Steven Brian Samuels are my photographers and their bio’s and responses to my questions are below.
Pat Jarrett is a staff photographer at the News Leader in Staunton, Virginia. His work has also been published by the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian in London, National Public Radio and The Christian Science Monitor among others. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and CNN. His work has also been recognized by the Virginia News Photographers' Association and the Horizon Interactive Awards.
Photo credit: Pat Jarrett
Steven Brian Samuels is art jeweler and photographer based in New Jersey and very close to NYC. His artworks, under the name Stevie B., have been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications including Metalsmith, 500 Plastic Jewelry Designs, and 500 Gemstone Jewels. As a photographer, he works with many high profile art jewelers and galleries and the images he's created for them have been featured in Metalsmith, Lark Books, Schmuck catalogue, along with many others. He is also writes about art, artists, retail/wholesale venues and photography in his Focus group on Crafthaus. Photo credit : Steven Brian Samuels
As a photographer what is your overall opinion of social bookmarking sites like Pinterest?
PJ- I feel like it's a great place to visually organize my inspirations and hopefully get my work in front of more eyeballs. I have no issue with my images being pinned, because all the work of mine that's online I have no problem with people accessing it. I only upload mid-resolution photos on my blogs that aren't really print quality. Those that are print quality are either behind a copyright wall or watermarked.
SBS- I'm pretty bad when it comes to social networking in general. It saps my time and I feel I've already been there, done that in the 80's with Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) and dial up modems so much of the allure is lost on me. I know I should start doing more social networking and I plan to in the future but so far, just relying on word of mouth, I'm pretty busy.
A few months ago I received an invite from a photographer friend to Pinterest so I checked it out. Meh. I guess if someone wants to spend time trying to get Pinterest-famous but I really don’t see the point. Yes, it will get work out there to many people but there seems to be no guarantee of being credited, as photographer or artist. Such attention is usually very short lived and burns out pretty quick. Being in the spotlight for a moment is nice, but if it doesn’t turn into sales, connections, or future opportunities what’s the point? How many Pinterest-famous, Flickr-famous, etc, people have gone on to something big just because of this short-lived fame? Not many at all.
Pinterest is interesting to me in so much as they provide no content, it's all provided free of charge by us users. How nice of us!
How do you feel about your photographs being pinned and repinned?
PJ- Similar to how I feel about blogging, Since Pinterest is only a curation site all the photos pinned drive traffic to my website or blog, so it's just like someone sharing links to my work on Facebook, Twitter or via email.
SBS- I haven't searched for my photographs at all lately so I really don't have a feeling about it. It's the internet, people are going to use what they want, when they want, and credit or not credit the photographer and / or artist. Trying to search for my images and then confront people who have used them without permission or credit is a pointless exercise. The people who will do what’s right have already done so. The people that don't, won't just because I nag them. I've been down this road a few times.
Yes, I wish it was different and I had a bit more control, but I don't see how that could be accomplished on the internet if we want to try and keep it "free and opened", or at least the appearance of "free and opened".
What concerns, if any, do you have regarding copyright infringement in relationship to these sites?
PJ- None, except for services like Twitpic and Facebook. Both sites make a rights grab in the terms of service. I understand some are scared that creators of intellectual property will sue because of Pinterest's TOS [Terms of Service] (see article here http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2012/02/29/busines...) but I'll believe it when I see it.
Any site that offers a high-resolution upload but has language in the TOS that make grabs for the copyright of intellectual property I steer clear of. Facebook reads "you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it."
Twitpic reads "by submitting Content to Twitpic, you hereby grant Twitpic a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and Twitpic's (and its successors' and affiliates') business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels."
SBS- Pintrest’s terms (which sounds to me like they are trying to own any content on their site) is what keeps me away from such sites and their utter lack of responsibility when it comes to copyright. Obviously the site is littered with mostly copyright material, but it’s up to the owner of the material to go through a length process and provide Pintrest with private details (full legal name, mailing address, phone number, email) and who knows what Pintrest will do with that information?
If you own the rights to your images** you should be very careful about who you may be giving these rights to. The image of your work is more important then your work because it is how most people will see your work and it's the only thing you will have when that work sells. If you protect your work when you ship it using crates or double boxes and tons of bubble wrap, you should really think about protecting your images just as well, if not more so.
It's interesting (or Pintresting) that Pintrest has very similar wording in their copyright policy and the same "responsibility" to copyright holders (none, until the copyright holder finds and then requests removal), as illegal direct download and torrent sites do.
**In the USA you most likely don't--The photographer gives you a release so you may use his work. In Europe you most likely know all about this and purchased ownership when you paid the photographer--Thus the higher prices in Europe.
What advice do you have for artists and creative entrepreneurs who use or may be considering using social bookmarking sites like Pinterest?
PJ- Read the fine print. If you don't want people getting access to your work, don't publish it online.
SBS- Protect your images. Protect your images. Protect your images.
Try working within your niche (if you have that pinpointed, if not work on finding it) instead of trying to throw a huge net hoping to become internet-famous. You can't pay the bills with internet fame.
Thanks so much to Pat and Steven for sharing their opinions. As always, your questions and comments are welcome.
Glad to hear you enjoyed reading this post. I'm looking forward to watching how this discussion evolves too.
Pat, I am interested in hearing more about your perspective on why you are only concerned about "print quality" higher resolution images.
Great question, Pat's response, via email, is below:
"Basically I make my money in print, not in digital, yet. The minimal amounts of piracy I have on my digital sites is basically the cost of doing business for having my photos all over the internet, easily Google-able. All my photos are marked as copyright protected on all the sites where I publish digitally, and people who want to pay for photos will get in touch with me for high-rez version or face copyright law that's on my side. I've sent a number of cease-and-decist emails, and that usually works. When I find my photos misused in a print publication I send an invoice for the market price of usage plus a copyright infringement fee, but that hardly happens because my work is mostly unavailable in print quality on the internet."