Earlier this week, a fellow editor in the International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) Facebook group posted this Social Times article about Pinterest, specifically how it protects (or some argue doesn’t protect) photographers’ copyrights.
This got me thinking about a couple things: 1. The interest in Pinterest is exploding. 2. It sure would be tough to be a professional photographer in the 21st century, if you’re a stickler about copyrights.
I will soon start a Pinterest for Nevada Magazine, where I have been the editor since 2007. I know if I was to pin a freelancer’s photo, I would credit the photographer and provide their website (or another site that showcases their work), as is customary on our other social sites. But there’s no guarantee that the person who saves a photo off our website or one of our social sites will do the photographer the same favor. And even if a site doesn’t offer a “Save As” option with its images, the savvy Internet user can just do a screen capture to get around that.
It’s almost as if a photographer is a victim of how much he/she puts out on the web — if you post it, they will share it. “The real trick is seeing your image being used illegally in the first place,” says Rachid Dahnoun, who owns Rachid Dahnoun Photography based in South Lake Tahoe. “There is so much content out there that it might as well be a needle in a haystack. It is really tough battle these days.” But Dahnoun also points to a lucrative contract he recently landed via one of his Twitter followers. “If I didn’t have my images up on the web or in social media, that never would have happened,” he says.
I personally have a ton of photos that I’ve taken all over the web, mostly on Flickr (which has recently added a Pinterest opt-out code), but could care less if they’re shared. But then photography is not my profession. If I discovered that one of my stories was used (or plagiarized) on a site without my permission, I can say for a fact that I would be upset. So it’s easy for me to understand how a photographer could be outraged if they stumbled upon one of their photos on the world wide web that wasn’t accompanied by a credit.
So what are the solutions? For the sharer, especially journalism outlets, we should ALWAYS credit photographers. In fact, I rarely post freelancers’ photos on one of our social sites, period, unless it’s a cover image or a “PR” (unpaid) photo. The photographer should protect him or herself with some sort of branding, or watermark, if they’re concerned about people sharing their images. I would also suggest setting up “Google alerts” that would notify the artist if their name and/or business shows up on the web.
…in less than a month Pinterest has become the fourth-largest driver of traffic to our website, only behind Google, direct traffic, and Facebook.
Are you using Pinterest or another image-dominant site to promote your magazine, newspaper, or other business? If so, how to do you protect photographers and other artists? Conversely, if you’re a photographer, how are you safeguarding your work online these days?