One of the latest topics of interest and possible concern for Pinterest fans is guaranteeing that your pins are legal. The potential for legal action might be the only thing that could hold back the platform’s explosive growth, but the Pinterest team has wisely started moving to protect itself against those issues.

Pinterest recently announced the addition of new mandatory attribution for images and videos pinned from Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and Behance. It has also added a button to Flickr that allows for direct sharing of photos. Here’s an explanation of what you’ll be seeing in your pinning routine as a result of these updates, along with a little more detail about the contemporary copyright rules that allow all this great media to be freely shared.

How to Use the Pinterest Share Button on Flickr

The first step to using the new Pinterest sharing button on Flickr is to be logged in to the photo site. The button will not appear if you are simply browsing photos without an account. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to link a Flickr account to any of your existing accounts on Google, Facebook, or Yahoo.

On the Flickr page of the photo you want to pin, just above the image you’ll see a “Share” button. Once you click that button, you’ll see a drop-down menu of social media platforms where you can post the image with the appropriate attribution. Besides the new addition of Pinterest, other available platforms for sharing include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger, and WordPress. Frequent pinners will see the Pinterest button appear as one of the two shortcut logos to the left of the main Share button for even quicker posting.

One word of caution: Many Flickr members seem to prefer disabling the sharing functions for copyright reasons. If the photo’s owner has turned off sharing, the buttons in the Share menu will be grayed out. The function will only work for Flickr accounts that ask for attribution of their images.

How the Attributions Will Change Pinning

The good news about this Pinterest update is that you won’t have to do anything differently to include the attributions on Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and Behance. Using the “Pin It” button from Pinterest on a page will automatically fill in the attribution information for the image or video you’re posting. Those details cannot be changed by a Pinterest member, so credit will always appear when pinning on those platforms.

Even though the text associated with the original image does automatically appear in the caption part of a pin, as you can see in the image above, it doesn’t have to stay there. You can add, edit, or delete any portion of the text before pinning and the credit for the pin will still appear at the bottom on the Pinterest site.

Pinterest is being very thorough with these attributions. The team said credit would be applied retroactively to as many images as possible that were shared from those platforms prior to the launch. According to the Pinterest blog post announcing the change, the team will be able to add the attribution even if a Flickr photo is pinned from a website or a blog with the image embedded.

The Growing Role of Creative Commons

Since there’s almost no change to the process of pinning with these new attributions, why make the update? The main driver behind this action seems to be concerns about copyright protection. The creative minds whose work appears on social media platforms such as Pinterest may be concerned about receiving credit for their ideas, be it a photographer who snapped a beautiful photo or the musician whose music video goes viral.

Many creative thinkers who share their work online have chosen to use Creative Commons to protect their product. Creative Commons was first developed in response to the inability of copyright law to adapt quickly enough to meet the needs of a rapidly-changing Internet. The organization has set a mission of protecting innovations while still making online content accessible and sharable for all.

Pinterest has achieved its rapid success by encouraging creativity and individual expression. This decision is a strong statement by its leadership about the importance of protecting the results of that creative energy. It will be interesting to monitor other social media networks to see if they also move to require credit for creative works, or whether Pinterest will stand alone.

What do you think about the new automatic attribution on Pinterest? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: midiman, Kirstie Shanley, winged269Hamfats, Kristina Alexanderson]