Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Interesting links: Pinterest Debate

 ddk portraits: Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards -- This blog post is a by a photographer who is also a lawyer by trade. She goes over the legalese of the Pinterest user agreement. She does not outright say Pinterest is bad and no one should use it. She cautions that there are many open questions remaining about copyrights and "fair use". She explains that she took her boards down because she wasn't willing to keep taking the risk.

I was intending to pin my covers and create a board for each of my series. Do I have this right?

Well, my artist provides me covers in many sizes with full knowledge I am going to use them on websites, book covers, etc. The art she uses to create them carries with them the type of usage license that is broad enough to support my book marketing efforts. If it wasn't, I'd have to go back and get her permission every new place I used the cover she made for me. I did ask her about printing them to personally frame for hanging in my house. At this time, I have the cover of Dating A Cougar on business cards, on all my sites, and upload it to each and every ebook retailer in the size they require.

That said, I found a photo of Helen Mirren on the web that was amazing and I would have loved to have used it in a blog post I'm doing about an upcoming heroine in her sixties, but I didn't because it was from the site of the magazine that used it in their article. Using it seemed to cross a border to me, so I opted not to do so. I have done some professional photography and just don't do that sort of thing lightly. I did link to a web shot of Buddy Holly in one post that seemed to have come from an old record album archive.

I follow lots of romance sites that provide male model shots of "eye candy". Is that unfair to the model? Or is it marketing? Is it a boost to them to have a great pic of them shared? I agree with the blog poster above that the legal part of the debate is very fuzzy.

I used to use a lot of poplar content in my teaching work, but felt quite protected under the most common of "fair use" understandings of it being allowed for education purposes. Yet of the five colleges where I taught one decided that I could only use borrowed work for a single semester, then I had to remove the copied pages from their servers. They were exercising great caution. Another insisted I stop putting up copies each semester and permanently catalog the borrowed work one time in their library so that the entire university could use it. They were willing to take the risks.

Last year, a Bloomberg Business Week article used my Dating A Cougar cover without me or the cover artist knowing about it. Was that wrong of the magazine and reporter? Maybe from some hazy legal notion, but it was also wonderful marketing for my work. I did not mind in the least. My artist and I were both thrilled. We have been linking to their use of it all over our sites. We considered it a compliment and good fortune to have our creation favored enough to share.  Now I might not have been so generous if they were using my content so freely. That's what book pirates do, right?

How do we make decisions about this in our business? I think it comes down to personal convictions and how much personal risk you are willing to take. I would personally not pin anything to Pinterest that I didn't want to share without thought with the world at large which is my personal philosophy about anything I put on the web. I would hate to miss out on the ability to reach a ton of people via the Pinterest membership.  Strictly from a marketing standpoint, they seem a hot place to reach a lot of people quickly, but they also discourage flagrant marketing. Like most social media, you have to provide value and entertainment, not just ask them to buy your work all the time.

Right now though, I'm on the "waiting list" for Pinterest accounts and haven't been accepted. Now I understand why. They are having to figure this out. (UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, they allowed me into their membership. I have uploaded personal photos I didn't mind sharing, some of my book covers, and re-pinned many pins to boards I have created to collect them. I also visited a well-known self-help author's site whose work is frequently pinned only to discover she had created "pins" that could be shared. I thought this was a good way to say "you have my permission to enjoy and share this portion of my work".

Here's a link to  Clay Shirky: Why SOPA is a bad idea TED Talk  which I think applies to this debate because it about the laws being discussing concerning sharing content on the web.

Posted by Donna McDonald

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