Sourcing, Content Attribution, and LINK with Love

I saw something recently that made the writer and obsessive fact-checker and sourcing pedant in me die a little bit.

In a feature on their blog called Pin of the Week, I saw someone credit Pinterest as the source for an image. Which prompted this tweet from me:

That’s the quick and dirty summary of my thoughts on the subject, but I couldn’t let it rest there.

Clicking through the image to the Pin, it was a user upload. Running through TinEye and the src-img bookmarklet, it was pretty easy to see that the image was originally from a threadless t-shirt, and that someone had added text to it. Nowhere in the original pin (or the subsequent repins, of which there were thankfully few) was there credit to the original author of the artwork, nor any hint of who added the text. Well, let’s assume good intent… maybe the artist release their work under a Creative Commons CC0 License (No Rights Reserved). Checking out the artist’s flickr page, the large majority of his images (the one in question did not appear to be on his flickr page) are marked as All Rights Reserved. So, yeah… that probably wasn’t the case.

So… what’s the big deal? Who does this hurt? Haven’t people been clipping articles and making art out of them for year? How is this any different? Isn’t it a transformative use? It’s not like this person is selling it… it’s just Pinterest.

You know what? Those are valid points. It doesn’t seem like a big deal… it’s got, like three repins. Not that many people are seeing it. No one’s making money off it. But the artist who put their time, materials, software, effort into that image isn’t getting credit either.

Credit is an important thing.

That’s why I’m supporting LINK with Love. What does this mean for this blog? It means I commit to not using unsourced images. I commit to properly crediting and linking all images and content used and discussed on this site. I commit to also crediting sources that led me to material through a h/t (hat tip) or ‘via’ link. And it means I challenge you to do the same.

For example, in my Positivity series at Persephone Magazine, I make wallpapers with the mantras that I suggest every week. Some weeks, I create my own with typography, brushes, and textures. Some weeks, I want a photo quality. I’m an okay photographer (and have used my own images), but I don’t have an image for every sentiment, so I make use of various stock photo sites and the Creative Commons Flickr search. Take week six, for example:
A photograph of a flower with the text "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

(Image: Mantra Feb 15, a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from thatgirlcrystal’s photostream)

I found the amazing photographer Poppy Thomas-Hill, who has an album of pictures that she releases under a Creative Commons Attribution License. She even states in the description of her images on Flickr:

All of my my creative commons licensed images are available for free. My images can be used on websites, in magazines, book covers, class projects, powerpoint presentations, publications, media, news, editorial use, product packaging, print, and more.
In exchange for the free use of my images, I require photo copyright credits be given to me as “Poppy Thomas-Hill”. A link back to my Flickr photos is always appreciated, but not required.

Pretty amazing, huh? I made sure to properly credit her on the edited image itself, as well as provide links to her work in the Flickr description.

More on Sourcing

The following blogs are some of my inspiration in my commitment to linking with integrity.