How Big is Your Thumbnail?

"Fox" (C) Leslie Hawes 

“How have Pinterest and search engines displaying full-size images instead of just thumbnails affected the way you publish your work on the internet?”

This is a question posed on Creators Against Pinterest  blog,  in the recent post,  “Copyright Infringement Becomes Too Burdensome”,  

The following is my opinion.

The combined effect of Pinterest and Google Images and Bing Images is more vexing to me than the introduction of larger size images. It has all but put an end to my ability to promote my artwork on the internet.

Don’t get me wrong…I think the larger images are stink-o*, and a total end run around the ‘thumbnail’ safe harbor argument of Kelly vs Arriba Soft that Google and Bing and Pinterest try to hide behind.  Equally stink-o* is the tiny, faintly colored text on the larger-than-thumbnail images on Google that says, “Images may be subject to copyright”, and the addition of the ‘pin it’ button Bing Images, and the fact that Bing Images is now reviving those images of mine that I had long ago had removed from Google Images….

…but, I think that the one-two punch of Pinterest and search engine webcrawler robots is the bigger problem.

Pinterest and Google Images and Bing Images are collectively effecting the publishing of my artwork on the internet by perniciously negating links from my images to my website.

When a ‘pinner’ pins an image of mine to a board, let’s use “Fox” as example,  it creates a URL (web address) to that fox image on that Pinterest pin board. That URL differs from the URL of my “Fox”  image on my website.

When Image webcrawler bots find the ‘pinned’ image on Pinterest, it adds that pinned “Fox” to its Image Search pages with the Pinterest URL attached to it, instead of to my URL.

When that image, “Fox” , was re-pinned over 400 times, and the Image Search bots ‘found’ those pins there on Pinterest, each with a new URL, the search bots added those images with those URL’s to the Image Search Pages.

In no time flat, the Image Search pages containing “Fox” only had URL web addresses directing people to Pinterest.

In effect, links to “Fox” on my website where I was promoting it for sale as an original artwork, was squeezed off the Image Search pages by my own image, because all links lead back to Pinterest boards.

Marketing my artwork online used to be fun and felt productive and creative.  Now…not so much.

I used to be able to direct people to Google Image Search pages, tell them to type in the search words ‘Leslie Hawes’ and they would see an entire two or three pages of  my artwork with links underneath the images that led back to me and my blogs. It was great.

Pinterest appeared on the scene, webcrawler robots collected URL’s to Pinterest rather than to the original copyright holder, me, and the rest is quickly becoming history.

Even after installing ‘no-pin’ code to all my blogs, Bing Images now offers a “pin it” button on all images on their search pages, which circumvents any no-pin code I have installed on my blogs. It renders it moot to have the code installed if the image search pages add the pin it button.

Here are some ways in which I have made my presence known on the internet for the past 7 years:

  •  I  administrated  three WordPress blogs and one Google Blogger blog where I displayed my original art, photography and writing.
  • My Drawing A Day project produced over 400 drawings since August 2009.
  •  I had a Flickr Photostream with over 3000 of my photos, and I participated in dozens of photo sharing Groups on Flickr.
  • I contributed original work every month to the Virtual Paintout for over 3 years.
  • I participated in online artist groups…Different Strokes From Different Folks, Virtual Sketch Date, Studio Atelier, Monthly Painting Challenge.
  • I created and contributed 2 sketchbooks to the Brooklyn Art Library Sketchbook Project.
  • I  created and published books of my art online using Blurb Books.
  • I  had a membership to Fine Art America, a print on demand website, and a CafePress page.
  • I established a Leslie Hawes Art Facebook Page

Here is how Pinterest and the ‘Pin it” button, Image Search pages, image scraper websites and general copyright infringement  has affected how I have altered my online presence, all most recently:

  • I removed all viewable sized original artwork from my Google blogger, “Leslie ‘s Drawing A Day”, and dismantled the blog, which has 240 ‘Followers’.   I now only display ‘thumbnail’ sized images that serve to redirect traffic to my only art blog, Leslie Hawes Art .
  • I resized all images to much smaller size and reloaded all my images to ‘start fresh’ on Leslie Hawes Art.  Over 400 images were changed.
  • I have  removed all of my photographs and years of writing from my blog, “Black Dog Diaries”.  Image search pages have made it impossible to prevent misuse of my photos. I have sent hundreds of email ‘takedown notices’ to blogs, newspapers, websites, scraper sites, and forums misusing photos of my dog at the dog park.
  • I have removed most original art and photos from this writing blog, “Leslie’s Blog”.
  • I have deleted numerous image files from my database to prevent image scraper sites that utilize ‘inline linking’.
  • I installed ‘no-pin’ code on all existing blogs, only to have Bing Images add the “Pin it” button that negates the code when someone ‘pins’ from Bing Image Search pages.
  • I removed all my photographs from Flickr.
  • I no longer ‘share’ art with the Virtual Paintout and other online artist challenges, and have requested that all images of mine be removed from their sites.
  • I cancelled my Fine Art America membership and deleted all my materials from the site. I requested all art files be removed from the database to prevent Google Images from gathering the images and making them available on the Image Search pages to Pinterest.
  • I have removed all images from Facebook , and no longer post images other than what appears automatically as ‘thumbnails’ when I add a link to Leslie Hawes Art.
  • I  submit numerous DMCA notices and send emails to copyright infringers. I have spent more time doing that than I do making creative content to add to the internet milieu. I stopped counting how many notices I sent to Pinterest after finding more that 400 re-pins of “Fox. My estimate is thousands, but who’s counting?
  • I am more obviously and obnoxiously marking all my work with the (C) symbol and stating copyright warnings in the sidebar (I used to not be so aggressive with my copyright notifications).

And with all that, I still find the creative energy to occasionally make drawings.

* stink-o:   a term used to describe something that stinks, as different from stink-ish, which is less offensive.

4 thoughts on “How Big is Your Thumbnail?”

  1. Hi Leslie. I always enjoyed your artwork for the VPO. Some of the best known, most highly paid artists in the country have websites, blogs and FB pages which show their art in more than small thumbnails. If the public can’t see your work, will they still buy it?

  2. Hi Leslie. I enjoyed your participation in the VPO each month. Too bad you feel that you have to basically remove your presence from the web. Many very successful artists continue to thrive with nice, large photos of their art on their websites, blogs and FB.

  3. Hi Bill,
    I do have a website where I post my art for sale, LESLIE HAWES ART, and I think the images are adequate for people to get an idea of what my work is like.

    The argument being made in this post, about ‘thumbnail size’ vs. ‘full size’, refers to the size requirements for a ~search engine~ to maintain DMCA safe harbor status and avoid liability for copyright infringement.
    To maintain safe harbor status, search engines are required to use ‘thumbnail size’ images when storing images on their servers and presenting those back to the internet. Recent changes to Google Images has been giving back large size files of images. Pinterest does the same. Their safe harbor status should be challenged.

    In this post, I probably fell short in making the point of why ~I~ have removed easy access to my work from the internet. This line from my post above, “Pinterest and Google Images and Bing Images are collectively effecting the publishing of my artwork on the internet by perniciously negating links from my images to my website” is my attempt at explaining.

    It really does me no good to have someone ‘use’ or ‘share’ or ‘pin’ a full sized image of my artwork when, in short order, Google Images collects a copy of that image from whoever used, shared or pinned the image, and the link goes to that person and not to me or my website. And Image Search pages, by publishing ‘larger sized’ images, makes it far too easy to right click/save for anyone who wishes to.

    Without trying to be crass, I have grown tired of finding my art and photos being used to illustrate pornography portal websites, money making page rank ‘click’ image scraper sites, and misused by every ‘tom, dick and harry’ who thinks ‘sharing’ means using an image until I complain. If people used the work with respect, well…then it would be a perfect world.

    In the meantime, I will draw back onto my one paid database website, LESLIE HAWES ART, and promote my art through redirecting people to that site.

  4. I completely understand and support you …. I treasure the book I bought of yours. I so admire your art and your writings. My best to you. Enjoy the holidays. – Kat

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