Monday, 18 September 2017

The "Source: Pinterest" Mentality

I am 21, and my generation have been raised with access to practically anything and everything thanks to the internet, and there's definitely a mentality of "if it's there, it's free to use". That's not true.

Artists, including photographers like myself, own their respective images. Posting them online does not give anyone who sees them the right to repost them, with or without credit. I'll get onto permission in a moment, but first, let's talk about credit.
This is a screenshot of a blog which I've decided not to name. When I politely pointed out to them the problem with "source: Pinterest" on Twitter, they got quite confrontational (even accused me of somehow being involved in their Pinterest account being suspended? Lmao, I don't know either). However, this is an authentic screenshot. I do not own either images shown in it and, clearly, neither does the person publishing them. 

If you've ever written an essay at University, or for A levels, you'll know how much you're penalised for not accurately citing your sources. That's no different than academics and researchers in 'real life' - it's imperative to correctly credit your sources. Why should that be any different for images? Photographers/artists deserve the credit. Writing "Source: Pinterest" is not good enough. Merely acknowledging an image is not yours is never good enough. Images floating around on Pinterest were not born there, so linking back to Pinterest as a - quite frankly - lazy and meaningless method of crediting your image source is wrong. Even if you're linking to the Pinterest profile of the actual owner of the image, that's still not really good enough.  Artists often have their own websites that, really, you should be linking to, as well as posting their name. Artists deserve the recognition and for their name to be floating around search engines, just as much as your blog's name deserves to be.
Even if you credit with the appropriate link, alongside the artists name, there is another important step before doing this: ask permission! I get approached around once a week by people asking permission to use my photos, from publishing them, to even drawing them! It's always hugely appreciated and of course the answer will always be yes. It's just politeness, and in asking permission first, you're just doing the right thing. If you cannot find the artists name or contact details to ask them, and if you cannot find the artist publicly stating anywhere explicitly that they have no problem with what they post online being reposted, assume you don't have permission. Because that's just a fact: you don't. And you should respect this artist's right.

I think the Twitter exchange I screenshotted below* perfectly demonstrates todays 'internet mentality':



 I understand that the problem with Pinterest is that it's hard to find the origin of the images on there. And it's frustrating when you see a beautiful image you'd love to use but can't find the person to ask or credit. However, no matter how hard you try, or no matter how many times you reverse image search, no matter how many disclaimers you write or how much you welcome the owner to come forward ... if you have not been explicitly given permission to publish the image by the owner of the image, the fact is: you don't have permission. So don't post it.

"Loving art" or, "I've credited appropriately before" is not an excuse for disrespecting an artist's intellectual property, or for you to undermine them by not asking permission, or not giving their work the acknowledgement it deserves.  I've seen lots of bloggers publish images which aren't theres; it's shocking. And that's before you even get on to the big companies that do it! If you're a blogger that has done this in the past, think to yourself: "if someone quoted a blog post of mine, but didn't credit me, and just credited 'Source: Blogger/Wordpress/Wix (etc)' how would that feel?" Because on the other end of that picture is a person who owns it. The fact you couldn't find the artist is not their problem, it's your problem, and is never an excuse for you to steal their images. You may even be reading this thinking "but I'm just a blogger, I'm not making any money from their photograph". Irrelevant. The owner of the image is still the owner, and has the right to not consent to it being used, let alone it being used frivolously without being consulted at all.
I know that 99.999% of the time when images are stolen, it's not with bad intentions. It's pure ignorance; like I said, our generation has been brought up with access to anything and everything. Why would you think twice before saving an image and re-posting it? But I write this because it is an issue that has personally affected me in the past. Having my images stolen and reposted elsewhere without my permission is upsetting, and, more than anything, it's frustrating. If someone had just had the courtesy to ask me, I'd have said yes. Please don't do it.
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*Of course I'm not singling out anybody - obviously, because I blocked their name out! I just felt this is a perfect example of the point I'm trying to make. This conversation is also what motivated me to write this post, so it seemed apt to share it so you can better see where I'm coming from. 
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11 comments

  1. Really interesting read! This has happened to me before and it's not a nice feeling! But it's a really good thing you're trying to educate people Millie ��❤️

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  2. An interesting view point- one im still learning from blogging too. Possibly just my ignorance, but I had no idea about directly linking to an artist and in all honesty it didnt cross my mind to ask for permission either. Ill definitely be taking things more in to account and its always good to keep learning. Thanks for this!

    Sarah | http://www.sazsinclair.com xx

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  3. Interesting post..its a little like Insta too. I sometimes find images of my own used and uncredited and it really is not on. Great photos deserve recognition for the time too, whatever platform!
    H x

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  4. As someone who takes all their own photos for my blog it definitely bothers me when I see someone with an incredible image on their blog, only to find out that it's not actually them that's taken it and they haven't credited where it's from properly either. It bothers me that so many people do it and don't seem to be getting pulled up on it at all.

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

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  5. I think watching someone use our content without crediting is the worst feeling so it's something you won't be doing yourself. We have used pinterest pictures before but tried as much as we can to actually research the author. Coz even the smallest pic is hard work xx corinne

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  6. Hi, I think that its god to highlight this aspect of blogging as people frequently use Pinterest as a source but don't reference them, linking it back to uni is a great way to educate others.

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  7. Really interesting read. I've never credited Pinterest as I've always tried to find the originals and credit them, but sometimes asking for permission is next to impossible. For example, this past summer I wrote a piece that talked about how to travel like Beyonce on a budget, and I used a picture of Beyonce. Finding the original photographer and asking them or even asking Beyonce is next to impossible. So, I've recently started taking down images from posts similar as this situation and reworking the language. It takes a while because there's still a good number of posts left, but I'd rather do the right thing and not get in trouble.

    -GG
    www.girlingamba.com

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    Replies
    1. I think to be fair photos of celebrities are an exception to my rule lol, Paparazzi photos are... just paparazzi photos. Lol.

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  8. It's so important to give artists and photographers credit! I only ever post or use my own photos as I'm not sure I'd be ok with someone else using my photos as it takes time and effort to get a good shot 📸 Although there is a photo I want to use for my next blog post which was taken by another photographer, even though it is a picture of me, I'm still going to ask for permission and give credit as that is the right thing to do 💕

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  9. Hi, I'm Aby and I am guilty of this crime. Before I used to take decent photos, I used to source photos from Pinterest. This really is an interesting read, and I am so glad to have come across it.

    -Aby
    a-blog-for-thoughts.blogspot.com.mt

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  10. This is a really interesting line of thought. I never really considered this before but I'm beginning to realise just how important it is. Thank you X

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