Thursday, March 1, 2012

An Interesting Move for Pinterest

It is so fascinating to watch a business evolve. Just a few days ago I posted some thoughts on Pinterest and why photographers should espouse this new social media environment, not as a curiosity, but as a highly focused search engine. There has been much controversy in the world of professional photography about whether or not the posting of an image on Pinterest constitutes a copyright violation for the photographer. Many were concerned that Pinterest's own user policies seemed to put the blame squarely on the "Pinner." Well, evidently, at Pinterest things are evolving.

Early this morning one of our photographer clients received this email, ostensibly from Ben Silbermann, the co-founder of Pinterest. (I removed her name and the links to protect her privacy).

"Hi Photographer,

I'm Ben, the co-founder of Pinterest. I removed one (or more) of your pins today at the request of a copyright owner who preferred that their images do not appear on Pinterest. The photo is here for your own records: (Link removed)

This is a rare - we usually find that people are excited to have their photos shared with a larger audience because it can drive traffic back to their site. However, when we do get requests to remove these materials, we try to respect the wishes of the content owner efficiently. If you have any questions, please email our Community Manager, (removed personal email address for practicality).

I just wanted to give you a heads up. Thanks so much for using Pinterest. I hope you're enjoying the site! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Pinterest DMCA #ID 1571839017

- Ben and the Pinterest Team

For what it's worth, I think the photographer who demanded that their images be removed is incredibly short-sighted. You may as well grab a lance and charge a windmill or try to get a clock to run backwards. This medium has enormous potential - but I've written about that elsewhere.

I think this message is fascinating for many reasons. First, I think for Pinterest it's the right thing to do. The turmoil being kicked up by a few disgruntled folks can often become a distraction and there is no question that the legal community would have been circling. Shifting their stance, taking responsibility to be responsive (there is an elegant legal wrinkle here that I admire but it is too detailed for a blog post), will free Pinterest to continue to pursue their core vision, which I again believe to be a re-invention of search.

I admire this move for two reasons. One, it shows a level of business maturity that we don't often see. Too many young entrepreneurs get so tied up in their 'ideals' and lose the forest for the trees. Peter Drucker (who essentially founded the modern school of management) always challenged business leaders to make sure they were maintaining focus on what is important in a business. Making this change means that Pinterest will be doing just that.

I also admire it because it takes courage for a leader to listen and respond, especially on a position one may hold dear. Congratulations Mr. Silbermann! Lead on...

No comments: