Pinterest Debuts New Copyright Attribution with Flickr, Behance, and More

By Nathaniel Mott , written on May 1, 2012

From The News Desk

Pinterest has had a rocky relationship with Flickr from the start, but the two image-sharing services now seem set to put their conflict behind them.

Yahoo's photo service was the third most popular source of images pinned to the fledgling social network, but enough of its users were upset by Pinterest's loose copyright and attribution policies that Flickr decided to implement Pinterest's "no pin" code.

As of today, Pinterest and Flickr now have a happy medium between "Pin all of the things!" and "Stop stealing my content!". Pinterest has added a new form of copyright attribution to its service that will help address accusations of content stealing.

Pinning an image from Flickr will now bring copyright metadata along for the ride. All of this data is handled without user input, enabling a low-friction attribution system that not only links to the original artist but also ensures users can't claim images as their own.

This change will only apply to images that are publicly available and have enabled Pinterest sharing. Because these images were available anyway – the "no pin" code didn't apply to these users – this move reads less like an immediate traffic-builder for Pinterest and more like a carrot to convince other artists to re-enable pinning.

What carrot is being dangled in front of Flickr, then? The goodwill of its users. This move demonstrates a commitment to protecting and respecting an artist's work. As new sites such as 500px continue to grab headlines and users, offering a compelling reason to stay with Flickr is key to the service's survival.

Flickr isn't the only service getting the automatic attribution treatment. Pinterest has declared that "Attribution is a work in progress and we’ll continue to add additional sources”. It says that this new attribution system will also be available for Behance, Vimeo, and YouTube.

Copyright attribution has long been Pinterest’s bane. Flickr was the first to implement the "no pin" code for users who didn't want their images shared on the virtual pinboard, and it probably wasn’t going to be the last.

Ultimately, this partnership serves as a sign of goodwill not just between Flickr and Pinterest, but also between the services and their users. Users respond to respect and expect the services to follow the "defer to the artist" model. While this announcement is technically about a feature, it feels more like a peace treaty.

Update: Behance has written a blog post explaining why they decided to work with Pinterest here.