Pinterest Exclusion Protocol

<meta name="pinterest" content="nopin"/>

Weirdly vendor-specific and coarse at the same time. Will other sites follow this directive, which could mean something like “don’t repost images referenced in this page”, which does differ a bit from:

<meta name="robots" content="noimageindex"/>

Not to mention actually using the Robots Exclusion Protocol, and perish the thought, POWDER, or even annotating individual images with microdata/formats/RDFa.

Then there’s the Spam Pinterest Spam Protocol, I mean “pin this” button. I have not been following web actions/activities/intents development beyond the headlines, but please rid us of the so-called NASCAR effect.

Not entirely orthogonal to these vendor-specific exclusion and beg-for-inclusion protocols, are images released under public licenses — not entirely orthogonal as nopin seems to be aimed at countering copyright threats (supplementing DMCA takedown compliance), which public licenses, at least free ones, waive conditionally; and releasing work under a public license is a more general invitation to include.

As far as I can tell Pinterest relies on no public license, and thus complies with no public license condition (ie license notice and attribution). As it probably should not, given its strategy appears to be relying on safe harbors and making it possible for those who want to make an effort to opt-out entirely to do so: public licenses are superfluous. Obviously Pinterest could have taken a very different strategy, and relied on public copyright licenses and public domain materials — at a very high cost: pintereters(?) would need to know about copyright, which is hugely less fun than pinning(?) whatever looks cool.

Each of these (exclusion, inclusion, copyright mitigation strategy) are fine examples of simple-ugly-but-works vs. general-elegant-but-but-but…

I’m generally a fan of general-elegant-but-but-but, but let’s see what’s good and hopeful about reality:

  • “Don’t repost images referenced in this page” is a somewhat understandable preference; let’s assume people get something out of expressing and honoring it. nopin helps people realize some of this something, using a <meta> tag is not ridiculous, and if widely used, maybe provides some in-the-wild examples to inform more sophisticated approaches.
  • I can’t think of anything good about site-specific “share” buttons. But of the three items in this list, I have by far the highest hope for a general-elegant mechanism “winning” in the foreseeable future.
  • Using copyright exceptions and limitations is crucial to maintaining them, and this is wholly good. Now it’d be nice to pass along the availability of a public license, even if one is not relying on such, as a feature for users who may wish to rely on the license for other purposes, but admittedly providing this feature is not cost-free. But I also want to see more projects services (preferably also free and federated, but putting that issue aside) that do take the strategy of relying on public licenses (which does not preclude also pushing on exceptions and limitations) as such have rather different characteristics which I think have longer-term and large benefits for collaboration, policy, and preservation.

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