Pinterest is a wonderful thing. It is home to great ideas and wonderful inspiration for busy-body, mess-makers like me.
Here’s the thing…when I created the Pinspiration series on my blog it was for two reasons – to try new things and to have fun. Pure and simple. I never for one minute thought that I might be infringing on someone’s rights or be in copyright violation of someone’s creative ideas.
Darcy at lifewithmy3boybarians shared a link to this article on her Facebook page today.
And that article let me to these to blog posts from Amy Locurto.
And now I feel like a big fat turd.
So according to Amy and GreekGeek here’s the basic problem regarding bloggers and pinterest – In a nod to GreekGeek, let’s say that I, Kelly Sue Messmaker, happen to be on Pinterest and I pin a photo of a recipe for, let’s just say, peanut butter cupcakes. The gorgeous photo of said cupcake is what sold me on making them and I decided to share a screen shot of that photo on my blog because it’s a freakin’ awesome photo of a cupcake. And then let’s say that someone happens to Google “peanut butter cupcakes” and gets directed to my site. And there they see the same freakin’ awesome cupcake photo and then pin it to their pinboard. Well now when their Pinterest followers see that awesome cupcake photo and re-pin it, the link is to my blog – not the original blog. And yeah, I left a link to “awesomecupcakemaker’s” recipe and blog, but I, Kelly Sue Messmaker, diverted (perhaps only temporarily, but still) traffic away from “awesomecupcakemaker’s” blog and therefore infringed on her rights.
My aforementioned example is just one of the many problems with Pinterest and copyright infringement. (The above links spell out many other issues in great detail.) If I understand how it works, as long as I ask for permission and link back to the original blogger’s original idea, then all is OK in the land of copyright and intellectual property. But geez. All I wanted to do was make some fun cupcakes and share where I got it from. I’m not trying make any money or take credit for something that is not mine. Honest!
Part of me understands the whole copyright issue – I have a husband who makes a living from his intellectual property. Believe me…I GET IT. But then the part of me thinks that it’s also hard to nail down the questions of “what exactly IS an original idea?”
I remember a few years back when fabric purses purses were popular. Remember the ones made from decorator fabric with fringe and beading around the opening? They were all the rage and all over the craft show scene for a while. Well at the time I had been making a lot of window treatments for my house and had tons of fabric remnants. I saw those purses and thought to myself “I can make that” and so I researched the internet for a pattern. Then I used my fabric leftovers and added a few details of my own. I made purses for just about everyone I knew. Plus I made a few for various craft shows and even sold some. Now, admittedly, the *idea* of the fabric purse was not mine. Nor was it probably the original idea of the person from whom I got the pattern. But the purses I made were uniquely mine because of the creative way I mixed and matched patterns and applied trim. Was I infringing on someone’s intellectual property by taking an idea and making it my own? I certainly didn’t think so at the time. And to be perfectly honest, I still don’t think so.
And in the example of the peanut butter cupcakes, am I to believe that Julie at www.thelittlekitchen.net was the first person to ever put a peanut butter cup in a cupcake? She even admits that she adapted her recipe from www.mybakingaddiction.com. Who’s to say that gal didn’t have a cupcake from “SuperDuper Cupcake Shop” with a peanut butter cup in the middle and then recreate that recipe in her own, home kitchen. I mean, I once saw Gina Neely (Food Network) put Twix bars into the middle of her brownie batter. Was that GINA’s idea? Or did Gina get it from her best friend, sister, aunt, grandma? Was that the inspiration for putting a peanut butter cup in a cupcake or visa versa??
Just to be clear I would never, EVER intentionally steal someone else’s idea and pawn it off as my own. But I think there needs to be a realistic understanding of exactly what constitutes an original idea. And this notion doesn’t just apply to recipes, but can be used to argue the originality of scrapbook pages, photo shoots, writing…you name it.
I think the thing that bothers me the most though was this statement by Amy-
What I didn’t realize until recently, is that people were actually creating “Inspired by Pinterest” blogs based on this. Whole websites devoted to this. Your ideas used for someone’s Pinterest gain. I should make a shirt with that saying! Ha. If you are using Pinterest to get more traffic and hopefully make lots of money, great for you. I just hope you are using your own photos and ideas or asking the original creator to collaborate so it’s a win win for each side.
My blog for the most part flies under the radar. Except for a handful of folks who get referred to my site from Google searches or the classes and/or photo groups to which I belong, my blog readers consist of my family and friends who like to keep up with the ordinary, day-to-day life of my family. They (you) are the ones who care about my kid and who laugh about my cat’s hairballs. They (you) are the ones that I share my blog with. I don’t make one single red cent from my blog and I think that is pretty evident from my site’s content. Seriously, if I could find someone to pay me to take pictures of my cat’s hairballs I would have pursued that a LONG time ago.
Although I try with all my heart to give credit where is due, I do feel a certain uneasiness now about sharing the great things I find on Pinterest. I’ve thought that was the fun part of the internet – freely sharing our thoughts and ideas, but I do understand the inherent responsibility with copyrights and such. And most importantly, I don’t want anyone to think that I am trying to profit in anyway from someone else’s great idea.
So what say you? Have you personally had a project pinned on Pinterest that was duplicated without giving you credit? And have you shared a project on your blog that looking back now, you think should have asked permission for?
I guess the bigger question is, do you believe that we can be inspired by others, but use our own talent and sensibilities to create something uniquely our own?
I’d really like to know. Kelly