Pinterest Finally Speaks – The Latest

By: Mike Tuttle - February 17, 2012

Pinterest has been maddeningly silent about some of the press items floated the past few weeks. The Pinterest Adding Affiliate Links Without Disclosing” target=”_blank”>Skimlinks “scandal” came and went on its own, pretty much. Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro Pinterest “Spamming” Facebook?” target=”_blank”>did speak up and calm the tempest in a teapot about how “sneaky” (or not) the monetizing of links on Pinterest had been.

Then, there’s the “copyright issue”. As with any aggregation or sharing-based site, concerns about copyrighted materials being passed around came up. Was Pinterest considered a “safe harbor” under copyright law? Or were they profiting from the indiscriminate sharing of copyrighted material?

Finally, someone spoke, albeit briefly and quietly. Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann called Josh Davis at LLSocial and spoke about the affiliate links issue, which no one seems to mind anymore. Davis said:

“Ben told me that it was never Pinterest’s intention to be deceptive. 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.”

Oops. I hope Skimlinks got some good traction out of this while it lasted.

To clarify the monetization efforts, Pinterest has a added a new section to their Help Page that answers “How does Pinterest make money?”

Right now, we are focused on growing Pinterest and making it more valuable. To fund these efforts, we have taken outside investment from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. 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.

Even though making money isn’t our top priority right now, it is a long term goal. After all, we want Pinterest to be here to stay!

But, regarding the copyright issue, Davis said that Silbermann “didn’t want to go into detail about how they will continue to address that issue”.

Perhaps Pinterest is more concerned with keeping their user base happy and launching an API than addressing questions. I wouldn’t blame them. But, they are the hottest item out there right now. Maybe it would be a good idea to put one person on PR duty.

Or, maybe they don’t need to at all. Who is going to leave Pinterest over any of the issues so far? What do they have to lose by ignoring the chatter?

What they do need to pay attention to is fixing that stinky mobile app. C’mon guys. Even the ladies who love you are griping about that one. At least let us know that you hear the whining. It crashes as soon as you open it. I had to be really fast to get this screenshot, and it’s all I’ve seen on the mobile app for weeks, even after updating it 2 days ago.

Pinterest Mobile App Screenshot” class=”alignnone” width=”320″ height=”480″ />

About the Author

Mike TuttleWriter. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.

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  • Claire

    Wow – are they burying their heads in the sand about Copyright? They should be helping to change the image theft issue, as it is nothing but a big dirty mess & ruining the internet. We need to start changing people’s irresponsible online habits with images & Pinterest could be the ones to help to change that! Pinterest has a lot of potential, as it is a very useful website, in many different ways, despite all those who seem to only want to criticize it & think it is just a copy of Tumblr & such. I hope Pinterest will get their act together & stop hiding away on issues.

  • silverfoot

    “Ben told me that it was never Pinterest’s intention to be deceptive. 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.”

    er well that’s not the impression Skimlinks’ Navarro gave. Very confusing. And I’m sure I read a few accounts when the story broke of people testing links to see what Skimlinks was doing. How would they do this if it had already been removed?

  • Mike Tuttle

    The impression I got was the the links that had already been “skimmed” and affiliated remained. They just weren’t doing any more of them. Of course, he could be slinging bull.

  • silverfoot

    Skimlinks has always described its technology as working “on the fly” which is another way of saying deceptively as far as I’m concerned. I’d guess if it had been removed then there’d be no javascript to jump in and alter links once you’ve clicked on them. It would be as if it had never been there is my guess.

  • C Schnackel

    The TOS at Pinterest, and probably many sites, appears to attempt to skirt copyright law & throw members under the bus if there is a problem. Changing the links, profiting, encouraging this practice, all contribute to the site stepping outside the safe harbor protection of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), too.

    I have a feeling that some well funded copyright owner will be the one to sue the site when Pinterest or another that operates the same way attempts to claim rights to, and profit from, images “pinned” there by a 3rd party. Perhaps that legal precedent needs to be set if it hasn’t already.

    Though many would argue that the countless individuals whose work is pinned there without their permission or even knowledge can’t “afford” to do more than send a DMCA takedown notice, the same cannot be said if these sites profit from, e.g., Mickey Mouse’s image, or Darth Vader’s, or Winnie the Pooh, etc. But copyright laws protect those familiar characters’ owners along with the millions of photographers and artists who show and sell their product on the internet, too. “Share” buttons are ubiquitous and not even necessary to “share,” so simply by being on a site that has a non optional share button does not mean the owner agreed to the terms of social media sites, (which they may not even belong to).

    I doubt that a Pinterest type TOS would stand up under legal scrutiny, as it’s contrary to copyright law and attempts to create an agreement to transfer rights from copyright owners who were unwilling and often unaware.

    However, as long as they are getting away with it, they may rationalize that it’s profitable enough to risk it, hoping that big lawsuit never happens, or that they can settle for less than they profited off the scheme. Cheating has unfortunately become the way of doing business in the USA and probably many countries because of the difficulty of enforcing the law by the many “little” victims who simply can’t afford it.

    And, this type of blatant, rampant infringement is wrongly given as a reason for vague, overreaching legislation like SOPA and PIPA which largely would’ve benefitted the music industry, etc, and opened the door for abusive censorship, rather than aiding individuals who have the same infringement problems but far less resources to send the message that stealing is illegal.

  • Mark D

    What model phone are you using? I have never had a problem with the app.
    I know a bit of iOS, want to paste the relevant portion of your crash log here?

  • Mike Tuttle

    It’s not just me. Go look at the comments on the app in the iTunes store. Very common crash problem. Pinterest has been advertising a job opening for an app tech for weeks.

  • Hi

    Hi there, can you please send crash logs to