Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How Pinterest removed all my pinned images in minutes (#1)

This two-part post is about remedies to the problem of images appearing on Pinterest without permission
  • Part 1
    • how I discovered just how many images from my websites and blogs had been pinned - without my permission - on Pinterest
    • why it's wrong to pin without permission
    • how I started to comment on the images in question
  • Part 2: [Update - see Takedown: How Pinterest moved fast to remove my pinned images (#2) ] how Pinterest removed all my images within minutes of me serving a "takedown" notice. 
  • how you too can get your all artistic creations and photographs removed from Pinterest quickly.
I kept wondering how on earth I was ever going to find out whether or not any of my images were on Pinterest. I couldn't see any way of doing it quickly and easily via the site itself.

Then an (anonymous) friend told me how - for which many thanks.

How to find images pinned from your website or blog

If you want to find which of your images have been pinned this is what you need to do
  • start with this URL http://pinterest.com/source/
  • then add on to the end of it the URL of your site minus the http:// eg
    • http://pinterest.com/source/makingamark.blogspot.com/
    • http://pinterest.com/source/www.pastelsandpencils.com
    • http://pinterest.com/source/pastelsandpencils.com
  • put this search term into the top line of your browser and a page will be produced of all pins of images from your site
The pins identify who pinned the image and which of their boards is hosting it.

OK - so that's when I got a shock.  There were lots of images from my blog and my website belonging to me and other artists - including images where their usage on my blog had very specific conditions attached (the "jump through hoops" images!).

Why it's wrong to pin without permission

I'm delighted that people like my blogs and love some of the images that I include.  However I am very disappointed at the number of people who have obviously either not read or not understood the agreement they signed when becoming members of Pinterest.

Pinterest stipulates that you can ONLY pin images which are
  • EITHER your own - and you own the copyright (which means it's your own wholly original creation)
  • OR you have permission to use or a licence from the copyright owner
The only person who can decide whether an image can be reproduced and where that image can be published is the copyright owner.

Unless the copyright owner has made it clear (eg through use of creative commons or a "Pin away" badge) that it's OK to use their images, you simply can't decide for them.

The only exceptions are the "fair use" exemptions.  However my own view is that Pinterest is on sinking sands if it tries to argue those.  For example I had people pinning images from exhibition reviews - while my stats were not showing any visits from Pinterest to those exhibition reviews - and for my use to be "fair use" the images cannot be separated from the review.

All my blogs and websites indicate that "all rights reserved on all text and images".  That's because, in general, I don't like seeing my images decorating other people's sites.  I'm fine if people ask and it's an occasional request and I frequently give permission.

However I also post a number of copyright protected images which I get permission to use from artists/art museums/galleries.  The fact that I have permission does not mean this automatically transfers to the person who has pinned the image on their board.

I'm assuming people are genuinely ignorant of the process of asking permission that I have to go through to get some images on my blog - and that they would need to do ditto before pinning then - as per their member agreement with Pinterest.  So I'm not pointing fingers - but I have decided to make it very clear that pinning my images is not welcome.  Hence this post - and what I did next.

Then I started to comment on my images

I thought a bit about how to deal with it.  I couldn't see any way of contacting the person who had pinned the image.

I've done "take down" notices before and they are tedious to do, particularly if there are a lot of images involved.

My friend had already started to try getting her images dealt with and got this response from Pinterest.

This is what Pinterest says to the person who pinned the image
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:
[URL of disputed image re an art process]
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, Enid (enid@pinterest.com).
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 [...]
- Ben and the Pinterest Team
Note that:
  • it assumes the copyright owner is getting traffic from the fact the image has been pinned.  I looked through the top 50 sources of traffic for my blog on Google Analytics and Statcounter - and Pinterest was nowhere to be seen.  My friend - who had c.100 images pinned without permission - commented as follows.  So much for the traffic argument!
I don't even need all my fingers to count the page views I've been getting from the site a day.
  • There is no reminder that the member should ONLY pin images they own or that they have permission to use - as per the membership agreement.
  • There is absolutely no recognition that upholding the rights of the copyright owner is not optional.  Pinterest is required by law to take down the image if ownership is proved.
So I decided to give people a chance and comment on my images on the Pinterest Boards of those people who have taken images from my blog without permission.  The idea was that I'd tell them what I had in mind and ask them to remove the image immediately.  It's what I normally do and it avoids a lot of wasted time and angst.  Mostly people do these things out of ignorance.

This is what I said - with variations on the same theme.
"You have not asked for and do not have written permission from me to use this image. Do I need to serve a DMCA notice?"
Some people got lots of them.......

Endless comments from me on the images from my portfolio website - about lack of permission
Then I began to realise how long this 'simple solution' might take to implement - even with a copy/paste operation......

Which is when I thought "Stuff This" - there has to be an easier way.........

See Part 2 for what happened next!  This contains:
  • what I said to Pinterest
  • how many minutes before they made the site revisions
  • what they said to me!
More information


See also my two posts about protecting your images:
Plus I'm logging useful links to more information and advice on Copyright - Resources for Artists | Pinterest: how to identify and tackle copyright infringement

[UPDATE:  Plus I've created a new website Pinterest, Copyright and Spam - for Visual Artists & Photographers which I keep updated with what's happening on Pinterest and the different perspectives of those commenting on its operation]

69 comments:

Crystal Cook said...

Initially I was flattered to see people pin my art to their boards, and I still kind of am to be completely honest. But just today I found someone who had taken one of my images (they had also expressed an interest in buying this painting. . . until I told them the price) and used it as their avatar for social media without asking me at all. There was no mention of me as the artist, no consideration was given to who had actually created the work. They just liked the painting, didn't want to pay for it and chose to take an image off my blog to get it instead.

This didn't happen because of a pin, but it comes down to respecting my copyright. I'm starting to get very concerned about how many people simply do not care to credit the artist as the creator, or to ask permission to use their image in the first place. And I think Pinterest is increasing that attitude a hundred fold.

I'm guilty of pinning images of art I like, but I was always careful to make sure that credit and a link was given. But clearly this isn't enough. I didn't realize it was such a problem.

I'm really glad you are posting all this information, although I am sorry to see your images taken like that. Will look forward to your next post about this. :))

But I do wonder, what is the best way for an artist to protect themself, while still showing their work online? All of my work is sold online, with a few exceptions here and there. I watermark my work and I don't keep full res image sizes up, but that didn't stop the person from taking an image of my work without my permission.

nielsp said...

Thanks for the heads up I just found several of my images there. As yet I can figure out how to load Flickr sets to check these.

Niels Henriksen

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I've done an update to include at the end of the post links to the two posts I did last week about protecting your images on your websites, blogs and Flickr account.

lori said...

What a can of worms! Thank you for shedding extra light on this complex subject.

Artists with an online presence always are at risk. This happened to me via FB. Pinterest just seems to make our images more available, and vulnerable.

I am still in a dilemma over whether or not to block pinning to my personal blog...

Anita said...

Its interesting how you say to protect your Flickr account - Flickr is a prime example of a site that really cares very little for your copyright. I was extremely surprised to find one of the images of my artwork on a Flickr account as I did not even have one. Despite repeated attempts to contact the user, Flickr and Yahoo, all of which were steadfastly ignored, my image is still on Flickr. Please note Flickr states categorically in their user rules that you may not post any images to which you do not own the copyright. Post your images on Flickr at your peril - they care not one iota about your copyright!

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Greetings,

I do not know how I came across your site, never the less I find this and the earlier article interesting.

We cannot blame Pinterest as they are not alone. Try Google or Thumbr.

When we upload an image to our blog, we must except that it will be downloaded without our permission. We can only hope that when it is reused at sites like Pinterest and Tumblr that cret=dit is given or a back-link to our site where the image resides.

Most artists who repost other works of art on Pinterst and Tumblr will credit because that is what they would hope you would do with theirs.

A few decades ago an advertising agency reused one of my images for another job without paying me, or my studio mate at one time took an image that was mine and put it not only in his portfolio, but printed a tear sheet.

Bottom line: if you do not want your image to end up anywhere else but in your hands, do not post it to the Internet.

Granted, one has the option to write your name across ones image, but that makes the message of the image useless. Even watermarks are a distraction. An alternative to all this is to keep the images small, around 200x300 pixels.

Since I have tracking software on my sites, I know what is being downloaded. It actually helps me to customize my posts a little more.

No matter what one decides, your dammed if you do and you are dammed if you don't or as they said in the movie 'The Arrangement' The screwing I am getting is not worth the screwing I am getting.

I hope that brought about a laugh if not at least a chuckle.


Warmest regards,
Egmont

Judy said...

What a shock, I found several images from my blog! Thank you for all this info. Looking forward to part 2, because I want them removed!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Egmont - I've heard the line you're taking many times before and I'm simply not buying it.

The time has come to start forging a new way of doing things.

For one thing it makes me into a passive victim - and I refuse to be one.

Second because such action (ie non-action) does not reinforce my legal position. If I want to enjoy rights then I need to do something about it.

Third it doesn't teach people what they can and can not do - and I'm very much into helping people understand how they can improve upon the way they are behaving at present.

Most of the people who take images do so because they're ignorant and they don't know any better. I personally find that most people are mortified when they realise they have been behaving badly. So my line is that it's much better if we all spend some more time on educating our peers - and then that will help to reduce the problem over time.

People used to refer to black people in derogatory terms until people started to take a stand and say you can't do that - and here are the reasons why.

So why shouldn't we stand up for our rights and refuse to let people or organisations breach our copyright and take advantage of us?

Actions by crowds are very powerful. All I need to do is persuade enough people to join the crowd that I've joined - which is the one which says I'm entitled to my rights and I'm going to start changing the way things happen around here.

In the spirit of education - I have to tell you, you are wrong about Google because:
* it posts thumbnails on the search pages - as opposed to the larger images posted on sites like Tumblr and Pinterest
* every image has a direct link back to the originating site - unlike some of the images on Pinterest.
* you can opt to have all your images made private on Google

Google is not ideal - but it's far more acceptable than Pinterest.

Vicki Lee Johnston said...

Thank you Katherine - we need an advocate who knows more than most about our rights. We also need to be educated so we take the less complacent idea of "when you put an image on the net expect it can be taken" You don't have that attitude with your other property e.g. your car - and it is in the public - you lock it, security system, insure it etc. Why not your creative property? It is uniquely your own and by saying you should expect it can be taken is making it too easy for others to take your property without permission, thereby making it somewhat 'acceptable'?.
On the subject of watermarks - I don't see why they are a problem for many - most viewers sincerely interested in buying can see your art and images thru the watermark - also the name is another way to advertise - name association and artwork representation - at first view - otherwise it's just another pic on the internet with no identification.
Why give them the perfect, clean, crisp, unmarked version ripe for the picking? We are lucky to have the internet to view artworks and promote our work - if buyers are keen they will be very happy to see the artist has made an attempt to protect their brand and copyright which makes their artwork more valuable. If they want to see it in more detail - then an exhibition or gallery remains the perfect environment. And yes, I know you can still remove the watermark - just as you can still have your car stolen with the door locked. If you're not worried about it that's fine - but I think artists need to send out a message that we would love to share our art - but not give it away.
Katherine I have tried the link but it doesn't seem to work - perhaps something to do with country of origin ...

Vicki Lee Johnston said...

Also - would it not make sense for all concerned - the original pinner who may be 'naive' - Pinterest for protecting their own reputation and the most important - the owner of the artwork or image .... for their to be a pop up message when the initial pin is placed .... i.e. "By pinning this image you are declaring you either have copyright ownership or have permission to do so"
At least make it a two step process - rather than just pin this, pin that - no wonder it is considered acceptable ....

Katherine Tyrrell said...

That is precisely what I've told them to do - so there is constant reinforcement of the basic message in their terms and conditions about which none of us have any quibbles - because it accurately states the legal position!

Whether they do anything is another matter

I'm fairly confident if they don't act decisively, they will burn their chances of getting funding for any expansion. Investors like people who know how to manage their way efficiently and effectively out of a crisis.

Sadami said...

Dear Kath,
Thank you for this very timely and so helpful post. Although my cases are not Pinterest, I seek advice.
I've experienced several web/blogs that illegally uploaded my images and a post without any permission. Last year, a Chinese blog uploaded my entire blog post of the Chinese emperor exhibition. They denied copyrights infringements. I consulted Australian Society of Authors and demanded the blog should delete all my sketches and the post. Anyhow, they removed my post. However, no apology for me.
Other cases are ongoing = I keep an eye on them. For example, http://graffitigraffiti.com/pics/Sadami-Konchi-.html
They’ve collected my images from the different websites and uploaded them without my permission. Today, to my surprise, they’ve uploaded the photos from ASA!
But their contact is not found.
In my experiences, the common element of these cases, “hard to contact the right/responsible person” or “no contact” on their home.
Kath, please give me suggestions. I’ll consult ASA, too.
Kind regards,Sadami

Tina Mammoser said...

I know I'm coming at this from a different point of view, but thanks for that source link. :) Now I can go in and thank people who pinned me. :) (I like being pinned, but didn't know how to find out who might be pinning me.)

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I provide lots and lots of links to advice and information about what to do to stop theft of images and copyright infringements on my website Copyright - Resources for Artists - plus practical tools to help in the process

Have a read of that and if you're still stuck, come back here and ask your question again.

Speaking personally, if there's no contact details on the site I report it to Google, the domain registrar and the web-host. That has without fail got a result.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Tina - you might also want to check the links to see whether they actually do lead back to your site. I've found lots (of other links) that don't. It all depends on where they found the image that they linked

Gina said...

Dear Katherine, You are truly amazing. How generous of you to spend the time in giving us ideas on how to protect our images. I have been aware of people pinning my photographs on Pinterest even though I have given notice thatI didn't wish to be copied.
I googled pinterest and added my blog name and easily found the photos taken from my blog.
I look forward to your next post. I would truly like to know how to remove my blog pictures from Pinterest. Thank you, Gina

Jessica Rosemary Shepherd said...

Dear Katherine, this is brilliant post. Thank you thank you thank you!

Tina Mammoser said...

Good idea Katherine, I'll do that. :) Was going to do little comments on them all anyway.

Heather said...

I had just a couple of "repinned" pins there, since I don't spend much time at all, and I immediately took them down. What I am currently wondering, is this: if it's copyright infringement, or upsetting to the original owners, (which is totally understandable), then why on earth is this site still in existence? I was under the impression that this was supposed to be a place to share ideas or cool sayings, ect. And most of them include pics? So, how should we keep track of recipes or project ideas but not infringe???

Katherine Tyrrell said...

It's not upsetting to everyone. Some see it as great promotion and are prepared to accept some of the things which might happen to their work as a result. Others would like more control over exactly where their images appear - and to always know when that happens.

I'd suggest pinning from pages which make it clear that it's OK to share.
* So that's not the ones which are marked up "copyright - all rights reserved" - as mine all are.
* You should be looking for the ones which say "pin away" or some such.

Rodeo Bucket said...

Thanks for sharing. I've linked back to this article on one of my blogs today.

AKK said...

Two words: watermarks people! I find it interesting that none of your images appear to have watermarks on them. Watermark ALL images with your URL. This will ensure that you are always credited. It's incredibly easy for people to take images and post them or use them as avatars, etc. get some free advertisement with your watermark on it. (even if you disable saving, pc users can use print screen and Mac users can use grab to save those images.). I don't blog for a living, just for fun, so I don't care if people pin my pics. But many professional blogs I follow do this to their images.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I'm not a fan of watermarks and up until have not felt the need to use them (and I do check where my images are online - and I can tell when they are downloaded and which IP does the downloading)

However I'm now beginning to think again on this topic

Of course if we had websites which didn't encourage people to do things which are against the law there wouldn't be a problem.

Bronislava Slagle said...

You can also see if your images are on pinterest if you go to your blog under - STATS >>> TRAFIC SOURCES and under REFFERING URLs - that is if you check these Reffering URLs at least monthly, but better daily or weekly

k. wang said...

this post is fascinating, thank you, and i think it's become more and more apparent that pinterest in and of itself is the major cause of these problems while users are only an unintentional aside. while i agree that it's obvious if read in the user TOS that the user him/herself must own and/or have license to pin the images, this stands in almost direct opposition to the very definition that pinterest applies to themselves:

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

it's not explicitly stated, but in the phrase 'things you find on the web', practical use would garner that a user simply found them and it wasn't content that the user/pinner owned or had license to use/pin; this i think is the ultimate cause of the copyright issues as understood by a user through carefully reading the TOS and what's being spoon fed to a user via Pinterest's marketing and 'about' page. as a related argument that pinterest is deliberately doing this (and as i'm sure most are aware of now), their primary revenue stream is currently affiliate payouts from scrubbing affiliate urls from the originating source with their own, and in that model it is inherent that they encourage others to find and pin images that they do not own since if the originating source is tied to an affiliate program, that's where they make their money. by the opposing logic (users can only pin images they own), the opportunity in scale just simply wouldn't be there.

Night Garden Design said...

I feel like most of the stuff I've seen people pin on Pinterest (and most of the things I've pinned myself) fall under the Fair Use exceptions. That is to say, 99.9% include criticism or comment, and many, many, many are for the purpose of teaching, scholarship, or research. Here's a link to the Fair Use page on the gov's copyright site.

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

However, as you say, the page clarifies that the "distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined." If you feel uncomfortable with someone pinning your image, you can shut it down. Pinterest gives you the tools to do that.

But to be clear, once you've put an image on the web, you've opened Pandora's Box. Other countries have more limited or non-existant copyright laws. People can quite easily screen capture any or all of your non-watermarked images, crop them, and use them for any purpose, despite the illegality.

I'm not defending outright criminals. What I am saying is that, to my understanding, Pinterest is not on par with copyright thieves. Only time will tell if that opinion holds up.

For my part, Pinterest remains in the top ten sources of traffic for my blog. I'm quite comfortable with people bookmarking my images on Pinterest so that they can return later. I'm quite comfortable with people sharing the links so that other people can visit, too. It all seems pretty innocent to me, and really, it seems pretty similar to how Google operates.

IMHO.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

It's news to me that Mood Boards for domestic interior design now count as Education (ie teaching, scholarship or research) for the purposes of copyright fair use. Does the state now use taxpayers money to teach "how to decorate" in school?

I've not seen any statement by a lawyer which supports this notion whereas I have seen a statement to the effect that the owner of Pinterest does not understand copyright.

The argument that it's "fair use" is one suggested by Pinterest as I understand it. Perhaps they'd like to quote case law to support this as those who oppose what they're doing can quote case law as to why they're wrong.

On the question of "it's OK because Google does it" - perhaps you've not noticed that Google uses thumbnails? Note also that Etsy treasury lists also serve up thumbnails - of items listed on the site BY THEIR OWNERS. Or that Pinterest serves up full size images which belong to people who are not those who pin - or repin - them? For all those generating copyright protected images in 2D that's a very big issue!

The fact that Pinterest is removing all those images where artists and photographers state they are infringing copyright would not be support this notion - and they are removing them.

Maybe you missed the point that this was a post aimed at artists and photographers and all those who were most likely to have the value of their work compromised by having it pinned on Pinterest? I see from your blog that it's about 3D crafting stuff - and don't produce 2D images. Do you feel qualified to speak for all those artists and photographers who do mind that their copyright is being infringed? Have you checked just how many "all rights reserved" 2D images have been pinned to Pinterest.

Few of those that are repinning would have any scope to argue the "fair use" exemption since this requires a commentary or a review. Do you see these reviews? I don't on the 80% of Pinterest content which is repins.

Also ANY argument that essentially suggests that because everybody else is doing it it's OK for other people to do - even if the law states it's NOT permissable - is wrong, wrong, wrong! That's the lemming argument - and we all know what happens to lemmings. It's also not an argument that those who go to Court and sue for copyright infringement have any difficulty ddemolishing on the way to winning their cases.

However if you personally want to take the chance and run the risk of footing the bill for Pinterest's legal costs and damages as well as your own is entirely your choice.

By all means repin content of visual artists working in 2D if - and only if - that content has been pinned to the site by the person who created it.

and finally - did you read the condition that says that you will own all images you pin to the site or otherwise have permission to use them?

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Hi K.Wang - you've nailed one of the very interesting aspects of the copyright issue relating to Pinterest

The wholly contradictory nature of the statements Pinterest makes on different parts of its site is confusing and clearly relates to their status in relation to secondary liability for copyright infringement.

On my site Pinterest and Copyright - for Photographers and Visual Artists, I highlight various aspects of the law relating to copyright.

One of the aspects which I have still to develop is that relating to vicarious and contributory liability. This is particularly relevant to the actions of Pinterest in encouraging members to pin images and the extent to which they remove images when asked by their owners.
Essentially:
* vicarious liability - "courts have extended liability to those who profit from infringing activity when an enterprise has the right and ability to prevent the infringement." (Hence why Pinterest removes all copyright protected images so swiftly)
* contributory liability - this is "a form of liability on the part of someone who is not directly infringing but nevertheless is making contributions to the infringing acts of others. Material contributions to the act (or enabling thereof), as well as knowledge of the act itself, are key elements of contributory liability. Additionally, in the course of performing such material contributions, the parties know that they are materially infringing copyrighted content."

I've quoted from Wikipedia here and am looking round for more sources for this aspect of copyright law which is being developed in the courts. Happy to receive suggestions to share with others!

Rebecca said...

I am so thankful you shared this information. My work/photos from my blog and my website are all over PINTEREST and not one person even asked my permission to use them.

Thank you seems so little. But THANK YOU none-the-less.

I'm linking my blogpost to your article/post. I trust this is OK. I'm sharing your name, blog and specific post and including Deb from Mosaic Magpie as the source in which I found you.

Blessings~

Rebecca
A Gathering Place

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Pinterest is revising its terms of service as from 6th April 2012

View the explanation here http://blog.pinterest.com/post/19799177970/pinterest-updated-terms

View the new terms of service here http://pinterest.com/about/terms/?utm_source=sendgrid.com

scarlett clay said...

Wow, this is a lot to take in. I found you through Connie's blog....I've known for months that I have many hundreds, if not thousands, of pins out there from my blog. But I've always been flattered that someone would like my projects enough to share them with their friends. I haven't seen anything of mine copied yet. I remember a photography professor of mine once said,"It's not a matter of IF your images will be stolen, it's a matter of WHEN." That's why I started to put my name on the final photos of my posts most of the time, but then I noticed people pinning the photos that don't have my name! So my efforts there were worthless. I commented on Connies' but I'll share here, too, that there's definitely been a change recently...I used to be able to click on incoming links and see exactly what a pinner was looking at, but now, the links seem to be a mess, for lack of a better term. I click on the incoming links now and sometimes it takes me to one of my projects and sometimes not. I don't understand how it all works, but I'm going to have to do some research. You've given me a lot to think about! Thank YOU for sharing all of this great information!

~Scarlett

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks Scarlett

That's the problem. It doesn't work like Facebook at all. Lots of people are saying it's very difficult to find the person who created the pic that people want to display.

It's as if they just want to show off what they picked and don't care two hoots about the artist or the photographer or whoever.

And that is just not on.

It's as if people think it's OK to walk into a shop, take home whatever they fancy and then show it to all their friends - and then if you the shopkeeper catches up with them and asks them what they're doing you're told told that they were just doing you a favour.

Send them an invoice for a reproduction fee - that'll wake them up!

SimpleSue said...

Call me a dreamer but I thought being a creative spirit made us all a little less greedy and more sharing of the beauty we are capable of creating with our art. It saddens me that some artists are taking the stance of being so unsharing & possessive about their art being used in such a harmless manner So-what if some housewives, or college kids use our art to decorate their MySpace Page or create an avatar, or add our art to a Pinterest board like a scrapbook?! Just print your name/website on your images. I never would have heard of you if it were not for your exposure on Pinterest.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I'm afraid SimpleSue that what happens to artists and photographers images is a lot more than that.

At one level people can see no problem. At another it's a problem which threatens people's livelihoods. I assume you would think that a serious issue?

The point is nobody should have to defend their right to control where their images appear - especially when in doing so they have the full support of the law. Communities work when we respect each other. Values in communities fall apart when respect for one another disappears - and the work and income streams of working artists and photographers are disrespected

Most artists indicate that if asked they would let their images appear on another site. The thing is they're not asked. People just take. There's a word for that - and it's not sharing. That's what people do when they choose to share.

BigSkyKatie said...

I admire and respect your no-holds-barred firm, demanding approach to dealing with Pinterest. I literally clapped reading your communication with them!

Unfortunately, searching for images by source link only finds those images with source link intact, which has only been the case with one of my images found pinned on Pinterest. However, it's something. Your approach to dealing with Pinterest is something more and something for which you have my respect and admiration.

I, too, have blogged about Pinterest and I just edited my post to recommend and link your excellent post.

Thanks for an excellent article!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks Katie - my perspective is I don't see why anybody should be a victim of
* EITHER corporate interests which jackboot their way across the rights of the individual artist
* OR allowing people to steal "because everybody does it".

I'm interested in supporting artists who equip themselves with the knowledge, the skills and the attitude which mean they stand up for themselves and their rights

Gail Kent said...

Katherine,
Thanks for another easy to digest informative post.
Having decided Pinterest wasn't a venue for me, I ignored it. Just discovered my Etsy shop site added the pin-it button to all my art work. Now I have to research this copyright issue again, and will follow-up on your updates.
I've linked to this excellent post on my blog today and linked to Fine Art America's very strong position statement to drive home the point, as well.
Thanks again,
Gail Kent
Gail Kent Studio
http://www.gailkentpainter.blogspot.com/2012/05/pinterest-pins-steal-your-art.html

MJ's Mommy said...

As a photographer I have no issue with anyone pinning my images as long as its a "hey! Check it out" type of pin. If some one likes my work and is letting folks know, then it's all cool. I have had three sales in the past four months because of pinterest. If, however, someone is out right claiming my work as their own, then they have a fight on their hands. Pinterest does refer folks back to our site if the pinner is using our URL. I will take those stealing from me to task. But I not going to stop folks who like my work from sharing. I have found increased web traffic when the person pinning is a popularly followed individual. Where someone is less followed, ivenot seen any.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Gail - I think as Pinterest submerges under the spam merchants and the p*rn, it's very likely that sites like Etsy will think twice about including a pin-it button without giving people the chance to opt out.

I've already got that Fine Art America statement link on my website Pinterest, Copyright and Spam - for Visual Artists & Photographers

Katherine Tyrrell said...

MJ's Mommy - how do you feel about the people who pin your photo in such a way that the link is lost?

There are a lot of images out there which have been stripped of their copyright info and no longer have a valid link to the originating URL - even if the pinner is not making any claims as to ownership.

Unfortunately there's just far too many people who have experienced this happening to them on Pinterest.

That's why it's so very wrong of Pinterest to strip out the copyright and other identifying info from the image.

Vanessa Barker said...

Exactly! I love being pinned. I check it regularly to see what my most popular posts are. I'm glad people like and share my work

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I checked your profile and you don't seem to be an artist. I can well understand why other people might like Pinterest. However artists whose images are pinned without any attribution or benefit to the artist don't always share your views.

Unknown said...

I use Pinterest quite a bit and think it's a real shame when some websites stop me from pinning (although of course if they are special protected images that's important). I wouldn't mind if a URL was always written under my pin - I just love having a visual scrapbook of things that have inspired me. In fact I have signed up to many blogs from seeing an image on Pinterest and following them up. Those are blogs I would have never found otherwise so it is good promotion.

I think clickthrough rates from images on Pinterest will never be very high but when someone does come through they will be genuinely interested in your site. Pinterest provides a way for people who are skirting around the edges of art/design etc to start getting involved without signing up to lots of blogs and to do it in a way that is very visual. I think a whole new population of people are getting involved who will only generate more demand in the future which is a good thing for blogs and artists.

So please, if you have a blog, do reconsider or allow some to be pinned. Whole websites stealing pages is one thing, an individual viewing your images at home for pleasure is another.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

There are some artists who take the view that they are not here to entertain people who are getting interested in art.

Instead they are professional artists who are trying to sell their art to people who collect art.

As such their images have value and they take great exception to them being "pinched" by those who know nothing about copyright law and who can't be bothered to read the terms of conditions of Pinterest

The only images you can pin to Pinterest are ones you own. Period!

The Shiny Pebble said...

I'm with you. And I am an ARTIST.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

@The Shiny Pebble - Wouldn't "applied artist" be a better description? You describe your blog as "...A LIFESTYLE/CONSUMER BLOG, WITH A MOMMY TWIST... "

The people this post is directed at are people who are putting their own paintings and drawings online.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

@Night Garden Design - I took a look through the last three months of your blog posts and the titles would appear to indicate you're also into interior design rather than the regular readers of this blog who are interested in the visual arts - specifically painting and drawing - and have blogs which reflect this.

I COMPLETELY DISAGREE with your assertion that 99.9% include criticism or comment, and many, many, many are for the purpose of teaching, scholarship, or research

I have seen an awful lot of Pins of paintings or drawings online which have no comment nor criticism associated with them.

Also moodboards for interior design purposes are not research within the meaning of the legislation.

See http://www.squidoo.com/copyright-for-artists

Nobody who has had their images ripped off - as I have - needs to quote case law re "fair use". We just need to notify Pinterest that somebody has infringed our copyright - because that person did not ask permission.

Let me be clear - if somebody ASKS ME FOR PERMISSION to post an image of mine for a legitimate use they are almost certainly going to get an answer in the affirmative - but they are also going get my permission in writing - and that's what very many sloppy and lazy members of Pinterest fail to do.

Have you seen the number of images of paintings or drawings which are uploaded to Pinterest by people who have downloaded them from a blog - without permission - and then reuploaded them to Pinterest without a credit in the 'pin'. Those images are NOT going to be generating any traffic whatsoever for the legitimate owner.

I recommend that all artists use Google Chrome to right click on an image while viewing it in Chrome and then use the menu item "search Google for this image". It identifies all similar images on the Internet - including images which have been pinned by people without permission.

The changes in the conditions in April 2012 should also be read by anybody who thinks "once you've put an image on the web, you've opened Pandora's Box.". The law still applies even if you've posted an image of your own work to the Internet. Pinterest has also made the conditions of membership and who can post what an awful lot clearer than they were earlier this year.

People reading this post should note which comments were made before and after the change of Pinterest conditions in April 2012.

Lauren said...

I am in agreement with Simple Sue. As someone who works in publishing and handles photo licensing for magazines and books, I understand copyright law reasonably well, and I would never put an image in a commercial publication that wasn't properly licensed, but Pinterest is a completely different animal, and this is a case of copyright law not keeping up with technology. It's an online pin board; it's analogous to someone tearing out a photo in a magazine and storing it somewhere for future personal reference. Would you go into someone's home, snatch the photo away, and tell the person that they couldn't keep that torn-out photo in their paper drawer or share it with their family and friends because you own the copyright to it? No! Technically, do Pinterest pins violate artists' copyrights? You could argue that they do, but you're heading into murky, ill-defined waters. It's definitely not a cut-and-dry case of copyright infringement, which can be a legally complex issue.

Furthermore, Pinterest's hands are clean from a legal standpoint, as they have transferred the burden of copyright infringement onto the user. It would be impractical and highly expensive to sue individual pinners and re-pinners. What would you do? Sue every single person among the hundreds and thousands of people who have pinned and re-pinned your image? That would be a fool's errand, and considering that whoever pinned your pin liked your work enough to pin it in the first place, you'll lose that person as a fan or customer.

Anyway, there's now a simple solution: Pinterest offers a code that you can add to your website that prevents people from being able to pin any images from your site.

Perhaps they could also implement a function that would prevent people from altering a fixed credit line, so that if you did want to share your work or allow your work to be shared, you would at least be properly credited, which is usually not the case on Pinterest . . .

Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katherine Tyrrell said...

Technically there is absolutely no question that those who pin images which are all rights reserved - and where the Pinner does not have the copyright owner's permission - are infringing copyright. There are no grey areas. If permission is withheld it's withheld.

An argument that the law is not keeping up with a change in technology is totally fallacious and absolutely no defence.

The law is the law period - and anybody who thinks they can argue otherwise outside a court of law is a fool. The courts are the place to argue that the law needs to be changed not online websites!

Those who think that artists never take people to court over the infringement of their copyright are very mistaken.

Those who infringe copyright also need to bear in mind they're very likely to pick up the copyright owner's costs as well as their own. It's not in the least bit expensive for the copyright owner - except in terms of time and effort.

Lauren said...

No, technically, there IS an unanswered question about whether or not Pinterest pins (those that are pinned without express permission) constitute copyright infringement. In your own opinion, they do. As you say, the law is the law, period. You cannot say that pins constitute copyright infringement definitively until a court of law agrees with you, and no court of law has agreed with you yet. The courts could very well decide that Pinterest pins fall in the fair use category and are therefore not infringing on anyone’s copyright, period. Alternatively, they may agree with you and decide that Pinterest pins (those that are pinned without express permission) do constitute copyright infringement. In any case, until the issue is brought to a courtroom, it will remain a gray area. I really think you need to brush up on the fair use doctrine (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107), because ultimately that will be a guiding factor in any legal determination of whether or not pins (those that are pinned without express permission) constitute infringement. Fair use is an exception to the exclusive right granted by copyright law to the creator of a work, and it permits limited use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission. It’s up to a court to decide what constitutes fair use. As you say, the law is the law, period.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

On the contrary, I am extremely familiar with the fair use doctrine and while I am well aware that a few may well be able to claim this defence, there's a lot who cannot. See
* http://www.squidoo.com/copyright-for-artists
and
* http://www.squidoo.com/pinterest-and-copyright

The vast majority of copyright infringements I see on Pinterest are perpetrated by people who haven't even read the terms and conditions of membership of Pinterest never mind the law on copyright and the exceptions relating to fair use. Indeed a fair few seem to prefer looking at pictures as opposed to doing any reading of any kind!

The fact of the matter is that until the courts do decide that pinning via Pinterest is OK, all those that do and infringe copyright in so doing leave themselves open to the legal costs of defending that position.

If you're confident that what you're doing is right and you are correct then you'll have nothing to worry about - however if you're mistaken in your views the risks to you and your family could be quite considerable. (For example, you might want to speculate as to the reasons why the founder took down all his pinboards after the copyright position started being explored in detail online earlier this year!)

One of the purposes of this post is to highlight to those who are unaware and ignorant of the risk, the potential cost of their actions

If you care to read around the literature on copyright which is on the Internet, you'll find that a lot of people who did things with music files and video images have come to regret what they did.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Incidentally Lauren - since your Blogger profile reveals absolutely no information about you (ie you are Anonymous with a name), that will also be the last comment I accept from you

I wonder why you have to hide if you think what you are stating is correct?

albertinascrochetblog said...

Hello Katherine and thank you so much for posting on this. I have just spent 2 hours trying to submit a copyright form to Pinterest to get 6 of my images, which have been repinned multiple times, removed from the site. I have found that I get no useful traffic as a consequence of my work appearing on Pinterest. I don't post on my crochet blog very often and I do not regard myself as a professional artist/maker but I put a lot of effort into each post. Many of them are in support of charities and the point is that they get some exposure through my blog. I've found that individual images are being pinned and repinned so those links are missed. This year I have also had a daily photo blog about my area, the point of which was to show it in a new light to the people that live here (they're mostly very down on it!). I'm not a professional photographer and frankly some of the photos aren't that great but I've trudged out every single day, in all weathers and occasionally in ill health, to get my day's shot. I suddenly realised, through the crochet blog, that someone might be re-using them in this way and felt literally ill. I remember standing in the wind and pouring rain, juggling an umbrella and the camera, knowing that if I took a picture worth copying I would gain nothing from the effort but someone else might. I was in despair and almost in tears. There will always be those who don't get it (plenty have commented already). I only discovered recently how easy it was to copy an image from the internet. I've never needed to because I've always wanted to create and post my own images. Perhaps that's because I've got an art and design background. It isn't just those who make a living from what they create who feel hurt by this kind of activity. I have a very low income and can just about afford the batteries for the camera. (I've had to stop buying yarn for crochet).I wanted to raise awareness of where I live. Just because I'm being generous with my time it doesn't mean that others can help themselves to my work. I find it hard to concentrate and this might be why I'm having difficulties sorting out this wretched form but I do understand you and your message completely. Consider me one of your army. If it's OK I'll link this post to the one I plan to write about pinning, pattern piracy and the sense of entitlement which seems to be part of modern life. I think you're a star.

albertinascrochetblog said...

(Think something went wrong the first time I tried to post this comment. Apologies if it comes up twice.)
Hello Katherine and thank you so much for posting on this. I have just spent 2 hours trying to submit a copyright form to Pinterest to get 6 of my images, which have been repinned multiple times, removed from the site. I have found that I get no useful traffic as a consequence of my work appearing on Pinterest. I don't post on my crochet blog very often and I do not regard myself as a professional artist/maker but I put a lot of effort into each post. Many of them are in support of charities and the point is that they get some exposure through my blog. I've found that individual images are being pinned and repinned so those links are missed. This year I have also had a daily photo blog about my area, the point of which was to show it in a new light to the people that live here (they're mostly very down on it!). I'm not a professional photographer and frankly some of the photos aren't that great but I've trudged out every single day, in all weathers and occasionally in ill health, to get my shot. I suddenly realised, through the crochet blog, that someone might be re-using them in this way and felt literally ill. I remember standing in the wind and pouring rain, juggling an umbrella and the camera, knowing that if I took a picture worth copying I would gain nothing from the effort but someone else might. I was in despair and almost in tears. There will always be those who don't get it (plenty have commented already). I only discovered recently how easy it was to copy an image from the internet. I've never needed to because I've always wanted to create and post my own images. Perhaps that's because I've got an art and design background. It isn't just those who make a living from what they create who feel hurt by this kind of activity. I have a very low income and can just about afford the batteries for the camera. (I've had to stop buying yarn for crochet).I wanted to raise awareness of where I live. Just because I'm being generous with my time it doesn't mean that others can help themselves to my work. I find it hard to concentrate and this might be why I'm having difficulties sorting out this wretched form but I do understand you and your message completely. Consider me one of your army. If it's OK I'll link this post to the one I plan to write about pinning, pattern piracy and the sense of entitlement which seems to be part of modern life. I think you're a star.

Eva Evolving said...

If you do not want your images shared on the web, then it might be suggested that you protect them if you place them on the web somewhere (such as on a password protected site) or - and here's a thought - don't post them on the web at all. Everything on the web is public, and people using the internet are generally ignorant to the "laws of the internet," which vary from what people SHOULD do to what people MUST do, without any real guidance as to how to tell the difference.

Bottom line? Quit complaining about your images being all over the net when you were the first one to "leak" them there.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

How very rude!

If I can respond in kind - which I don't usuallu do - that's very much like a very trying infant or teenager saying "I can do what I like and you can't stop me" and/or "Everything of yours is mine and I can take it anytime I like"

For your information everything on the web is NOT public. Just because people can see it does not mean people can take it and use it on their websites.

Rather than behaving like a self-centred infant, I choose to live in a community which creates laws which are about people stopping antisocial types from choosing to ignore that some people make a living from the content they create - such as artists and photographers.

Here's a tip - the rules which apply in the real world also apply on the Internet. They are very explicit.

For example, people can't say what they like when they like on Twitter either. All those who are finding they're the subject of legal action are finding that out.

Bottom line is Ignorance is no defence. I notice you have no content on your blog. I wonder
why....

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Here's a lesson for you from today's Guardian Twitter and Facebook get on the school timetable in anti-libel lessons

It's a lesson which is not only applicable to those who can be bothered to go to school or learn for themselves what they can or cannot do.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

You might think I've not had many comments on this blog post since the early part of 2012 - but you'd be wrong. I'm regularly deleting comments which are essentially spam

The latest comment drops in all the phrases that people might want to search on - and then includes a link about how to buy followers for Pinterest!

Which just goes to show that any platform which involves "people" liking boards or people or posts is always going to be susceptible to the underhand and deceitful actions which unfortunately characterise so much of the everyday world of those people who care for very little except enjoying fame or making money.

I'm feeling so much better after that little rant - it is soooooooooo boring having to delete spam comments by people who can't read!

Gail Gardner @GrowMap said...

There are basically two conflicting viewpoints. One is that we should own and control everything and only those who pay should use it and the other is that by freely sharing we raise visibility for and promote those we share.

I personally know bloggers who get 60,000+ visits a month from something someone else pinned for them on pinterest. They are absolutely thrilled because all that traffic is making money for them AND for other bloggers they recommended on those pages.

Bloggers need to be aware that photographers, artists, cartoonists and others who are used to being paid per use may NOT want their content shared. We must look for information on their site that indicates their preferences.

Sometimes we just can't know; for example, when someone else shared your images somewhere and we don't know they aren't the copyright holder. So remember that this is usually NOT intentional. Most people believe they are doing you a favor and have no idea that you would object.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

This represents for me exactly the sort of IGNORANT view which is the bane of people who have taken the trouble to learn what copyright law says they can and cannot do.

There are NOT two conflicting viewpoints.

There's the law - and then there's the "free-for-all" which happens when people think the law does not apply to them.

These are typically those who have never even heard of the notion that "ignorance is no defence" in law.

To find that you are somebody who purports to help people grow their business - and yet you make no mention of the law - is very sad.

Try getting your head around the notion that images on a blog are:
* NOT free to take
* NOT always on a blog which makes a money by blogging
* may be images which are being sold elsewhere via a gallery, online auction or licensed use

People who take images without asking permission are not doing things unintentionally - they are people who don't think and people who are stealing. They just don't take the trouble to learn how or why.

Pinterest stipulates that you can ONLY pin images which are
* EITHER your own - and you own the copyright (which means it's your own wholly original creation)
* OR you have permission to use or a licence from the copyright owner


If you do neither of these things then you are breaching your agreement with Pinterest

Put simply - if you don't have permission from the individual owner or via a clear notice on their website or a legal right to use an image you are stealing.

You can expect that some bloggers - who are now getting very tired of this sort of this "what's yours is mine" type of behaviour - will no longer take the trouble to find out whether or not you did this intentionally and will report examples of plagiarism straight to Google.

All you need to do to find out if somebody would object is contact them. Is that so very difficult? Or are people who pin just too lazy to put in a bit of effort.

For the record this blog has a statement near the top of the right hand column which says "Do NOT pin images from this website on Pinterest." - and that's because I use images which I have permission to use and I cannot grant permission for other people to use.

I find it very easy to contact people and ask permission to use an image. Why do other people seem to find it so very difficult? Could it be because they do not care about the rights of others?

Josefina said...

I don't know how often I click through a pin that I like. There are several photographs I've seen on pinterest that I've tried to track down to find out about buying a print. I use my account as a bookmarking device. A little more refined and visual than my browser one, which allows me to connect with others. Most everything I post, I do with the intent of following up on it. Either right away or at a later time. I do realize not everyone does this though, but I've come across several craft bloggers who claim they have gotten a huge increase in traffic because of pinterest. I've discovered so many new blogs through this site that otherwise I'd never have known about. Perhaps it's different with photography, but personally, I get little personal satisfaction just from having a pretty photograph on my pinterest account. It's not like a blog really, the design is so basic it looks like a... bookmarking device.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

There's no doubt that it increases traffic - assuming that it's the originating site which gets to enjoy that traffic (which is very questionable given the laxity with which people reference the image to the site of its originator - apparently "Google images" has created rather a lot of images!).

Whether or not at the end of the day it actually results in any net benefit of value to the artist or photographer of any consequence is quite another matter.

The really insidious thing about Pinterest is it encourages a view that the person who created an image has absolutely no say in where it can be shown. That copyright might exist in law but it has no relevance any more in fact.

That is something which will ultimately be very damaging to anybody who creates original works of art.

In effect it says this person who creates images has no value and deserves no payment.

That is tragic.

Anne Birch said...

I'm a fine artist photographer... seriously this post sounds so anal it isnt true. Every image that gets shared from your website takes a link over from your site and lets pinners know WHOSE image it is. If some of you are not getting what that means in terms of getting your work out there for people to see, or getting the fact that anyone that pins it from there is giving you a reciprocal link back to your website, then I for one am not going to sit and explain how that helps your business.

Seriously... if you don't like people sharing your work, don't bother to upload it as you will drive yourselves mental trying to do something about it every time it is shared, which is going to be often between now and when you pop off this mortal coil.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Anne - I really don't appreciate having a post characterised as "anal" by somebody who is obviously ignorant of some of the stuff that has happened to both artists and photographers

I also find it difficult to think of you as a fine art photographer when you have a Google profile with no profile data. I also can't find a fully functional website for a photographer called Anne Birch. All I can find is a website which is not complete with a test journal entry dated 7 September 2013.

I'm now wondering about the validity of your description. For now I'll suggest that you refrain from commenting on actions taken by others until such time as you have your own website.

For the record - and your information:

1. Not all pins retain the link to the original website - particularly those which are links to websites which have already stolen the image in question.

2. Pinterest precludes any member pinning an image which is not their own or one which they are permitted to pin. Any pin which is pinned outside those parameters will be taken down by Pinterest so that they can maintain their "safe harbor" status in law.

3. Copyright rules irrespective of your opinion of the marketing value. That's law not opinion. It's not for somebody else to decide what can be done with a copyrighted image. The only person who can decide is the copyright owner.

4. You very obviously have never come into contact with those who download an image to their computer and then reupload it from their own computer - completely breaking the link and very often (as in 99% of the time) completely failing to acknowledge the originator. Unfortunately rather too many artists and photographers have come into contact this particular form of lowlife. This latter form of action is the one which prompted a lot of protests from a lot of artists and photographers - and prompted this post in the first place. Obviously you're unaware of the views of other artists and photographers.

Can I suggest you do what you will with your own photographs and refrain from describing others as anal until you learn rather more about the context on which you choose to comment!

Once you've run a website and blog for a few months why don't you check up on what's happened to your images - and whether they still have links to your website. This is a website which can get you started - How to do a reverse image search

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Would you also be the Anne Birch who thought it was OK to download the photograph taken by another person and then manipulate it?

As per your tweets
Anne Birch ‏@annebirchphotos 20 Aug
Edit of Michael Middleton's shot of William, Kate & Prince George. #ClarenceHouse http://fb.me/2tDJjA9Gq



Timber said...

People neglect to conside that when they report or "pin" other people's images on sites like pinterest, flickr or hteir own blogs, the various search engines especially from Russia and China are grabbing them TOO and if there's any links included they are displaying the link to the stolen images not hte original owners'
That was how I found several of my photos on pinterest that are on my EBAY pages, some foreign search spam thing came up in a google search I did and I noticed one of MY photos on it and a link from it to pinterest, the pinterest cached copy of my image came from an expired EBAY page.
So yeah, I was annoyed by both the search spam site and pinterest making money and traffic off MY photo.
I now took steps on my sites, and pinterest.

These search spammer sites I don't now how they work, but you Google search for something and you see results for exactly what you were looking for, say it was a search for "antique cast iron doorstop" but when you go to the page that apepars to have them for SALE, all you find is it doesn't sell anything, it just hotlinks photos and descriptions and LINKS to various auctions on Ebay for that search term.

Since Ebay doesn't allow editing of headers to insert meta tags I don't know how photos on Ebay can be protected unless you host them on your own site and set the directory hotlink for them ON and only allow Ebay hotlinking.




Denise Howard said...

Thank you for this very interesting post, which I will share with my artist friends as a "word to the wise". I have a problem, though: when I follow your instruction on constructing the URL to find out what images from my website have been pinned, I instead land on a page that demands I sign up for Pinterest. Apparently one must have a Pinterest account in order to do this search. Was this also the requirement when you ran your searches, or is this something Pinterest has added recently? I don't have a Pinterest account and don't want one, I just want to ensure that none of my images are on it.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Hi Denise

To be honest I've forgotten but I think it was. However you don't have to do anything other than have an account.

Katherine



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