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New code lets websites opt-out of Pinterest. | LL Social

In my discussion this week with Ben Silbermann, the CEO of Pinterest, he laid out a number of future plans for the site, and three of them have been implemented in the past few days.

Pinterest has . . .

  • Clarified their business model with disclosure to users of potential monetization efforts.
  • Released code that web publishers can use to prevent their images from being pinned to Pinterest.
  • Placed a characters limit on the captions of pins.

Aside from the disclosure of possible monetization efforts, the other two changes have been in the works for a while.

Pinterest now allows websites to opt-out.

This is an example of what a user would see when trying to pin an image from a site that has opted-out of using Pinterest. I briefly added the code to my site, but LLsocial welcomes pinning.

This week I wrote about Pinterest’s potential copyright violations. Pinterest is taking these issues seriously and implementing changes to better allow publishers to opt-out of Pinterest.

Pinterest made an addition to their help section called “What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?”:

We have a small piece of code you can add to the head of any page on your site:

<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />

When a user tries to pin from your site, they will see this message:

“This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

I question how many sites will use this code, given the popularity of Pinterest, but Pinterest is trying to address copyright issues in a proactive way. This code still doesn’t prevent users from downloading copies of images and then uploading them. It also doesn’t stop users from pinning images that were stolen and published on another site. That said, it is a good first step. Ben outlined some other steps they are working on for the future, but even this one step shows a real commitment to being a fair and progressive player in the copyright space.

500 character limit added to pin captions.

Of all the changes this week, the character limit will most affect users, and generally in a positive way.

As new people have been joining Pinterest, some of them haven’t quite understood the site, or at least tried to use it in their own unique way. Some pinners were copying the text of blog posts into the pin captions. Since Pinterest previously didn’t have a character limit, these pins could go on for pages and pages. Ben Silbermann told me that recipes were particularly problematic and that posting full recipes didn’t reflect the intent of Pinterest which is to have users go to the original source of the image. Ben indicated they didn’t want to be as character restrictive as Twitter, but they did want to find the  right balance.

For now they are testing a character limit of 500.

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34 Responses to New code lets websites opt-out of Pinterest.

  1. avatar Lee says:

    I can’t help thinking that

    might have been a better solution …

  2. avatar Lauren says:

    I’m wondering if the 500 character limit had something to do with a recent petition to limit text. Do you think the two are connected?

    http://signon.org/sign/character-limit-on-pinterest?source=s.tw&r_by=2490937

    • avatar Josh Davis says:

      Laurnen, I don’t know if the character limit related to that specific petition (I know there were several), but the change was definitively driven by user feedback.

  3. avatar Jesse says:

    Stunning. It’s like asking grocery stores to “opt out” of having their food stolen. Another great way to take content from creative people without paying for it.

    • avatar Sean Locke says:

      Exactly. If Pinterest is wildly popular, as stated on the Pinterest blog on the subject, there should be no issue having sites opt in, instead of forcing them to opt out. A meta tag claiming “pin” instead of “nopin”, as well as the embedded “pin” button should be seen as opt in implicit permission to copy. Why does is the infringer being protected here, and not the creator?

      Also, how does this protect artists who showcase their work on sites they have no access to the backend? It doesn’t.

      • avatar Jillian says:

        Good idea Sean- opting in instead of opting out makes MUCH more sense. Not to mention it’s more respectful too.

        • avatar Nick says:

          Sean, Pinterest would essentially be broken until all sites that wanted to opt-in added that meta tag. Nothing would be able to get pinned.

          • avatar Martin says:

            The Pinterest business model as it is now is essentially based on copyright infringement, so it will be broken sooner or later if copyright still counts on the net.

  4. Just incase anyone else is confused – swap the curly quotes for regular quotes for this code to work.

  5. avatar Claire says:

    That is stupid! Seriously, why get so uptight about your images being pinned/linked by people? I’d rather my images were pinned on there than saved & randomly uploaded in other places online. So, those who are going to put this code in – how are you going to stop people putting your images on sites like Tumblr? I’d be more worried about my images floating around on sites like that where I got no link or credit that it was my images. If you are so uptight about your images – let me tell you image theft didn’t start with Pinterest & isn’t going to stop. I suggest you don’t even put your images online if you need to put this code on your website.

    • avatar Ben Cook says:

      Claire, the issue (as Scott mentions) is that you’re also granting Pinterest rights to your image which they in turn can sub-license without your OK.

      For example, if I were to take a photo, paint a painting or draw a drawing and pin it on Pinterest, they could then sell a book with that image in it and I would get nothing in return.

      They could allow politicians I don’t agree with to use the image for their campaign if they wanted, and again I would have no say in the matter.

      The possibilities are endless. This is not being “uptight” it IS about retaining control over your own work.

      Furthermore, I shouldn’t have to keep my images offline to avoid theft. The fact that theft is prevalent online does NOT make it ok and it does NOT make me uptight for wanting to stop it.

  6. avatar scott says:

    hey claire, probably more of a concern for professional photogs, writers, filmmakers ect or any creator of content for that matter that runs their business on a licensing model. Copyright is a concern. Its up to the original author of works where his or her content gets published. this is basic copyright law and protection. There is another entirely different vantage point to consider. If a creator of works decides to freely let stuff go out there in the name of exposure than thats all good but by the same token if they feel its not profitable to do so then they should have the right to restrict.

  7. avatar krystal says:

    Claire, Scott is right. It’s professional photogs that this really pertains too. When you work off of a licensing model in a business that’s where your money comes from. For example if you have a contract with someone and they have exclusive rights to a set of photos and they’re all over Pinterest whoever is paying for exclusive use may view this as a violation of contract by the photographer and in reality they couldn’t control it.

  8. avatar Stephen says:

    I love Pinterest as a user, but am wary as a content producer. Sure, it gives me a few pageviews and maybe from those a few new readers, but in many ways, the site feels like a spam blog that just rips content from legitimate producers.

    1) The majority of pinners never click through to the source of an image.

    2) The opt-out code just pressures content producers remain opt-in (the default) because opting out makes you seem like a jerk.

    3) Just because I have permission from a photographer to use images, doesn’t mean everyone on pinterest can take them and use them however they want.

    4) Text-limits are great, but because pinterest is visually based, this does nothing to stop image heavy websites from being completely ripped off.

    5) Pinterest is different than Google images because the images are not thumbnails making it useless to actually go to where the content came from.

  9. avatar Ben Cook says:

    User generated content sites passing the liability through to their users is nothing new & UGC sites putting the burden of opting-out of getting their content stolen is nothing new either.

    What IS new is the fact that Pinterest is claiming irrevocable, perpetual & transferable rights to any images you upload that you do own. That’s a HUGE problem and one that basically renders the site useless for anyone that cares about controlling their copyrighted images.

    • avatar Cody says:

      Comparing Pinterest to other sites that could have user-uploaded content, is not quite valid. Prevailing laws gives sites/ISPs/hosters a short-term free pass for each offense on user-uploaded content, providing that they act promptly to remove bad content, when discovered.

      Pinterest is different, in that it actively participates in the potential image theft, since THEY do the off-loading of content. The user merely clicks to Pin. Pinterest does the hard lifting. This is not merely a user uploading a potentially bad image from their local hard-drive.

      Pinterest will have no “we did not know” exception from the law, since they ARE the tool doing it and they know there is almost no chance it is legal.

  10. I love Pinterest and I appreciate that they are addressing issues such as this quickly. Will they get it right all the time? No, but at least they are trying to be proactive and transparent.

  11. avatar Site owner says:

    The majority of images on my site do not belong to me. I have permission to use them, usually via javascript. But if pinned from my site, they are identified as MY images, which is INCORRECT. So I am using the code to protect OTHERS’ content as best I can as a responsible site owner.

    Most professional sites are also using other people’s content with permission and cannot legally give away that content to others.

    Yes, pinning should be opt in, not opt out, and the sooner Pinterest implements that, the better. I suppose it will take lawsuits to make it happen.

  12. avatar Gtricks says:

    Even 500 word limit is too much.

  13. In an HTML5 document, the Pinterest opt-out code is viewed as invalid by the W3C Markup Validation Service:

    The code is invalid

  14. avatar Julien says:

    They should have used robots.txt, with a condition on a user-agent Pinterest. Adding a new meta tag is a malpractice.

  15. Definitely a step in the right direction! I had heard about the code yesterday, but did not hear about the limitation on the comment on the content.

  16. avatar Cameron Scott says:

    Josh, You certainly have covered Pinterest extensively, and very, very favorably. Do you have a financial interest in the company? Are you paid to blog about Pinterest?

    • avatar Josh Davis says:

      Hi Cameron,

      It is interesting that you think my coverage is favorable. Did you see I compared them to Napster? I have had a number of comments asking why I hate on Pinterest so much. I guess like anything, there is a number of different ways to view a situation.

      To be clear, I have no financial interest in Pinterest. I have no connection to Pinterest in any way except I use their site both personally and for business, and I had two phone conversations with their CEO.

      I didn’t intend to write so much about Pinterest. I planned to write a five part series explaining it and different uses, but after the story on modified affiliate links, I kept finding interesting information, so I have kept writing about them. There are one or two more interesting stories about Pinterest I want to write, and then I will likely go back to covering other topics I have an interest in.

      Josh

  17. avatar Julie Perez says:

    Thanks for posting this!

  18. Great point Ben! While I LOVE Pinterest, ownership over images is a tricky one…especially if you are an artist. It will be interesting to see how many sites use this new code.

  19. avatar Mammasaurus says:

    Surely it’s fairer to let sites opt in than expect the whole world wide web to have to opt out. Code in the is fine – but what about free wordpress / blogger blogs ?

  20. avatar scott says:

    i love the whole ” i am being transparent so its ok if i rip you off” mentality. Meanwhile as they are being transparent and breaking the law they are building brand equity in site visits and traffic only to sell for billions in a year or two, profit made from illegal trafficing of content. ANti-Piracy or Copyright laws and concepts were built durning the framing of our original constitution within the first 1500 words to protect authorship and authors so that they will continue to have a profitable incentive to continue to produce thus benefiting culture as a whole. I really blame our educational system for never breaching this premise in the school systems, leaving a vacuous void of underfreaking standing of what it means to respect and not violate other’s intellectual property ….Hey its everyones GUARDED freedom to produce and to make money off of those efforts through SALE of content. As content creators, we don’t get rich by receiving clicks. Internet services and or companies like Pinterst, Megaupload, Facebook, Youtube do however and in the meantime are ripping us off like there is no tomorrow.

  21. avatar Martin says:

    Unfortunately not everybody has the skills to put that piece of code on their website, plus there are enough website services that do not give access to the html code.

    Finally, how many pins from goggle are on Pinterest ???

  22. avatar Diana says:

    Pinterest is shooting itself in the foot by reserving rights to the pinned content – the site is at its richest when users can pin the broadest variety of content – with big potential benefits for both users and content producers. YouTube doesn’t claim rights when a studio uploads a movie trailer – they understand that they gain tremendously from traffic of people attracted by what content owners (and non-owners…) share.

    As a content owner, if they eliminated that from their terms, would you be happy?

    As a user, Pinterest is now the primary way I find new blogs, new product sites (etsy sellers, boutique ecommerce sites), and interesting design related posts. I question the assertion that most users don’t click through, based on the high ranks Pinterest gets for referral traffic. Sure, I don’t click through to everything on the site – who clicks all the google search results? I don’t click through for all the pins I repin, but for certain key categories, I not only click through, but browse deep one I do. I explore the blogger’s other posts / site’s other pages much more extensively than I do when I find a site through google search, and I am much more attentive and receptive to not just their content but their sponsors/advertisers/own out links etc. And I find it easier to pass on and share sites with Pinterest, even among non-pinterest members (jump the bounds of the community). Yes, by sharing a link to the pin – it’s easier to follow up on those conversations, “I saw something related to that online you should check out,” with Pinterest than to go home and look through a list of URL bookmarks/rely on memory. It’s just so much easier to find them when they’re stored in a visual list.

    I hope Pinterest can resolve these copyright issues because it’s a really great tool.

  23. avatar Mike Finley says:

    Another issue was (and as far as I know still is) the removal of metadata from the images they store – this removes any copyright data the owner has added, turning the image into a potential orphan image, and is I think another contravention of the DMCA – one which is completely under their control.

  24. avatar Gail Green says:

    I really resent that the burden is now on the creative/copyright owner to add metadata to prevent being pinned. I’m not technology savvie and will have to pay my IT person to do this. Pinterest should provide a free tech service to do this since they are the ones causing the problem by not thinking this through to begin with. Another example of not respecting Intellectual Property ownership with the same standards as most people understand why they shouldn’t shoplift items at a retail store or walk into the dentist’s office without expecting to pay for services. Without my permission and knowledge…NOTHING should be “pinned” from any of my sites.