I can't help but notice what a hot topic sourcing and crediting photos has been lately, particularly in response to the massive popularity of Pinterest. When I started blogging over three years ago, the "standard" for photo crediting was quite different (credit the blog/site where you found the photo, end of story). Now the question of copyright and WHO should be credited (designer? photographer? stylist? magazine? blog that posted it before you?) leaves me with a headache and has pushed me to create more original content in the past year to simply avoid the issue. But with the rise of Pinterest, I'm hearing laments on twitter and even on some pins that the original artist/designer/photographer isn't being credited. Most often I'm hearing how difficult it is for bloggers to track photos back to their original source in order to credit the photo when they blog it.
Here's the thing though - I don't pin things as a free resource for other bloggers to use for their posts. I don't pin to promote my business or to attract readers. I pin things that I find inspiring and that I want to remember. It's much the same way I used to simply save photos off blogs and websites into a folder on my computer, only it happens to be on a website now. If I want to blog it, then I do the footwork to find the source and credit information - but probably 95% of the things I pin I don't intend for blogging, just to remember it and be inspired by it.
Here's how I use Pinterest: Most of the time, I pin from within Pinterest. I don't typically pin photographs when I'm reading a blog post. So unless the source information is included in the caption (and I don't ever erase it if it is), I'm not going to go out of my way to find crediting information just to pin a photo. A lot of the time I don't even know whose board I'm pinning from. It's just all about tagging inspiration. When I DO pin from a blog post (rare) I do take the extra second to click on the post itself before pinning - not just from "page 3" or whatever because the nature of blog feeds mean that "page 3" will have a totally different set of posts in a few days. And I'll include info if it is readily available, but I definitely don't track back to the original source of the photo before pinning. In fact, a lot of times I want to remember the context of the post I found it in.
Does it suck for the photographer/artist/designer that their work is circling the internet without credit on it? Yup. But that's kind of the risk you take when you upload your work onto the internet - I find photos from my blog and my portfolio all over the place! It doesn't bug me (unless someone is pretending that it's their work - that's different). I know that it's part of having a blog and publishing those images. I see 'em on Pinterest, but unless someone has a specific question tied to it that I can answer, I don't go around "claiming" or "crediting" my images. I figure that person is using my photo the same way I'm using someone else's photo... they think it's beautiful and they want to remember an idea that it sparked. And that flatters me! I doubt that this means I'm missing out on business - if someone wanted to track me down from an uncredited Pinterest photo I'm sure they could. If you're concerned about it, watermark your photos. Elle Decor does it and I don't think it detracts from the photograph at all.
So I guess here is where I end up: Absolutely find out the real source of a photo if you're sharing it your blog (besides being polite, it's also being a good journalist and getting as much info as possible). No using "via Pinterest" as a source. But that's because Pinterest isn't designed to be a blogger's source of stock images. It's there to inspire and to organize inspiration. I think it's going overboard to backtrack to pin directly from the original source and I think it's going overboard to insist that every pin include the information of every person included in producing that photo. Should we make an effort to include that info if we're the one bringing that image to Pinterest? Yes. Am I going to jump down your throat if you don't? No. Because I don't rely on Pinterest to tell me where an image is from. If it's worth blogging, it's worth doing some work, in my opinion.
(One last thing... if you don't like the language or subject matter of someone's pin, please refrain from leaving a nasty remark on their pin. There are plenty of images on Pinterest that I don't like, but I'll simply unfollow that board/person or move on... swear words or nudity (or even "tacky" interiors/clothing) aren't worth making a snarky comment, I don't think.)
I welcome constructive comments on this issue (even if they differ from my own opinions) but please be respectful - as always, my comments are moderated.