Pinterest Drops Skimlinks, Might Try Ads; Says Copyright Issues Not A Significant Issue Yet

pinterest-logoPinterest has stopped using Skimlinks to monetize some of the “pins” that its users were publishing on the site and, in other news, the company also says that copyright issues haven’t been a “significent issue” to date.

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann has been making the rounds a bit this week (“finally,” some would say) and discussing some of the issues that have come up in light of the site’s stunning recent growth.

Silbermann contacted Josh Davis of LL Social, the site that helped spread the news about Pinterest adding affiliate links (via Skimlinks) to some of the content that users post on Pinterest. Davis writes about their conversation:

He indicated that the use of Skimlinks was a test, not a business plan, and that Pinterest had stopped using Skimlinks a week before I wrote the original story on the subject.

Davis points out that Pinterest a new section on its Help page about how the site makes money. That’s where Pinterest says it may try placing ads on the site in the future:

We’ve tested a few different approaches to making money such as affiliate links. We might also try adding advertisements, but we haven’t done this yet.

Pinterest & Copyright Issues

Silbermann also spoke with the Wall Street Journal recently about the site’s growth and business plans. The touchy subject of copyright came up there, but Silbermann told the WSJ that copyright issues “haven’t been a significant issue so far.”

Like other sites that accept user-submitted content, Pinterest is likely legally immune from copyright claims related to its users’ activity on the site. (But I’m not a lawyer by any stretch of the imagination.)

The site has a very detailed page with instructions for rights owners that want to report copyright infringement on Pinterest. Interestingly, Silbermann himself is listed as the company’s copyright agent; Pinterest will likely need to hire a dedicated person for that job as the site grows.

Related Topics: Affiliate Marketing | Channel: Content Marketing | Legal: Copyright & Trademark | Pinterest | Pinterest: Business Issues | Pinterest: Legal | Social Media Marketing | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://www.pixelrage.net Pixelrage

    It’s inevitable that advertising would eventually start showing up. Good move on their part to ditch Skimlinks…not as if pinning affiliate links was a legit strategy, anyway.

  • http://amazons-best.com/ Cry Yu
  • Anonymous

    Skimlinks was tried on forum moneysavingexpert and the consensus was users were doing the work and if there needed to be ads they preferred ads in the side bar which could be easily blocked.

    Affiliate links introduce a commercial incentive that where people share social content wasn’t there before. It can end up swamping content with spam.
     

  • http://twitter.com/Greekgeek Greekgeek

    Pinterest’s claim that copyright has not been a problem sounds like damage control in response to the heated conversation that has been building on Twitter and stock photography blogs over the past few weeks. 

    The author of that Wall Street Journal article may have seen my article examining the copyright ramifications of Pinterest’s Terms of Use versus how it’s actually being used by its members. This article was being cited and retweeted by thousands of people in the few days before the WSJ article came out: 

    http://greekgeek.hubpages.com/hub/Is-Pinterest-a-Haven-for-Copyright-Violations 
    Pinterest’s unique model raises several copyright issues not seen on Facebook, Google Image Search, YouTube, or even Tumblr (which doesn’t have embed codes). Real photographers are reporting on a host of copyright problems and real-world examples — LOTS of them — of how these violations are playing out. Pinterest’s procedures for removing them may not be sufficient to stem the tide.
    This is a conversation we need to have, on behalf of the millions of content creators whose work is being copied in full onto Pinterest.com and distributed to third parties for monetization. Pinterest’s “move along, nothing to see here” should not be taken as the final word until we’ve heard from those whose work it is “exploiting” (to borrow a term found in its Terms of Use.) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/blaser Evan Blaser
  • DofordO Co

    Stating that it was not part of the business plan is probably
    inaccurate. As with any other start-up they probably thought of several
    different approaches and started with the quickest one to implement .
    Regardless, I do believe that pinterest will find a great way to
    monetize given the amount of shared content and interesting material
    available. A recent skim on http://www.dofordo.com
    suggested several ways that they may monetize this product (giving a
    good opportunity to many businesses) including a fab style selling
    proposition.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad people are speaking up…Pinterest terms of use CLEARLY say that anything that is pinned, uploaded, transmitted, or submitted is granting an “a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services. “  As a photographer, using, Pinterest, I’m like…wait a second….sub-license? sell? modify? Furthermore, Pinterest’s “opt out” code for websites is just plain wrong. That assumes everyone, every artist, every content creator, is automatically “opted in”…and must take up issue with the “pinner”, vs. pinterest.  They need to remove this TOS.  I’m all for sharing, but not for transferring a license.  Then presumable, they could sell anything as stock photography if they integrated it into their site and business model. Already people are pinning stuff from my site. That’s fine. But granting a license is wrong, and it’s right there in print. They are also being very misleading in their “how you should use this site” directions. 1) They say you, as a pinner, must have full permission to pin, or must own the content yourself.  2) They say you shouldn’t do too much self-promotion of your own work. How many people pinning out of the millions actually own the copyright or have permission to “grant a license” on its behalf?   You’re so right, people need to understand that.  I hope they change their TOS. I love the concept. But their business model right now is honestly, a little unethical.

  • http://GrowMap.com Gail Gardner

    I totally disagree. IMHO, there is nothing wrong with pinning affiliate links as long as whatever you are recommending is something worthwhile that you actually use and believe in. What gives affiliate marketing a bad name is unethical marketers who will do anything for a buck – but it does NOT have to be that way. 

    I am not even really active on pinterest yet, but what I believe would be a win / win / win situation would be for pinterest to ADD affiliate links to URLs that are shared but don’t have an affiliate link and leave the affiliate links of their users intact. They should prohibit get-rich-quick schemes and obviously spammy offers, but allow real products and valuable services and solutions. 

    That model would allow pinterest to generate an income that hurts no one, in not intrusive, and does not interfere with the destination that the pinner offered while encouraging users to share their high quality affiliate links. 

    We need to get over this idea that small business has no right to reach us or that people should give their time away. There is NOTHING WRONG with a blogger or online business person creating an income from skills they have as long as what they’re sharing benefits others and not just their own pocketbook. 

    Supporting small business is the most effective way to improve our economies, standard of living, create jobs, and fund important services such as fire departments and schools. 

    It must be media conditioning that has people willing to tolerate Big Brand Logos EVERYWHERE even on clothing and shoes – essentially making buyers of their products walking billboards – but scream when a high quality small business wants us to know they exist. We need to throw off that conditioning and encourage sharing of the best products and services with those who ARE interested in them. 

    Targeted appropriately, advertising and affiliate links are how we find what we want and need. When we WANT to see something we don’t mind and we don’t call it spam. 

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