I have to admit that I'm still at a loss over people freaking out
over Pinterest. It's pretty much a non-issue
, but it refuses to go away. I think I've finally figured out what's going on, however. Some copyright extremists are using Pinterest to try to whip people into a frenzy about nothing, such that they can use that against other sites later as well -- and, once they got going, Pinterest became a "proxy" for all other internet services and (by extension) computing itself.
Last Friday, for example, Pinterest updated its terms of service
to clarify the parts where some people were very confused and freaking out. While they certainly didn't go to the lengths
that Tumblr went to to make its terms of service "human" readable, the updates do clarify things. The key change, for example, was removing the word "sell" from the list of things that you grant a license to Pinterest over, as the company notes it never intended to sell anyone's content. I can pretty much guarantee how this happened. The lawyers who drafted the terms pulled the boilerplate list of rights you grant, and "sell" is always on that list. As we noted in the Tumblr TOS post, it's really just to give the company legal protection in case it sells something
that has a tidbit of something someone uploaded. It's not that hard to come up with a scenario where that might happen. But overly paranoid folks turned this into some nefarious plan by Pinterest to get people to violate copyrights so it could sell the results.
But, as mentioned above, this isn't calming down the maximlaist extremists. The folks over at the "Artists' Bill of Rights" (which is not what it sounds like -- it's a front for copyright extremists, paying almost no attention to how artists actually create) are still very upset about Pinterest's terms of service
and are interpreting everything in the most nefarious of ways.
The philosophy of their site is still to encourage members to copy content from other people or organisations' websites to the Pinterest website, then place the entire legal responsibility on their members for such copying.
Why? Because the PInterest business model has to start making money at some point. How can it do this? By monetising the content belonging to other people copied to it's website, possibly via advertising or affilliate programs, or in some other way. It may not be monetising that content overtly at present, but it must do so at some stage because it is gobbling up a lot of investors money to keep it afloat. As soon as it starts monetising the content the cat will be out of the bag and legal actions will commence. They are still in a period of grace - but for how long?
Horror of horrors. Pinterest is a service provider who would like to make money at same point -- just as the copyright maximalist artists would like to make money. Why is it evil when a service provider does it, but not when an artist does it? And, the fact is that Pinterest doesn't make any money at all if it's not useful. So, as you can expect, the folks at the Artist Bill of Rights want to guarantee Pinterest is not at all useful. For example, they attack
the fact that Pinterest is now pointing people to ChillingEffects
claiming that it's a site that is all about "protect[ing] the economic interests of the tech business model". Say what?! A site that highlights how copyright law is abused
to stifle free speech and creativity is about protecting free speech and creativity
. Anyone aiming to protects artists' rights should celebrate
The other complaint? That Pinterest isn't "pro-active" in monitoring the site for infringement:
We will continue to complain that Pinterest are NOT being pro-active in ensuring that copyright infringements are minimised.
And it's that line that highlights the reality. The folks hating on Pinterest aren't really worried about the law
. Pinterest already goes well above and beyond
what the law says they have to do. What they're complaining about is that the world isn't the way they want it to be. They're complaining that the world doesn't magically block copying. In other words, they're luddites who can't fathom why a world in which computers actually work is a good thing, and prefer to go back to a past where there were no computers. Computers copy. It's what they do. Tons of services have popped up over the years to let people do useful stuff
, but much of that stuff only works because computers make copies
. Making collections of photos -- all with links back to the original content, which has already been shown to drive significant traffic
-- seems like it should be a good thing. Unless you hate computers and the fact that they copy.
The anger here isn't about Pinterest. It's about computers. They'd have as much luck telling the tide which way to go.