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Is Pinterest a Haven for Copyright Violations?

Updated on April 28, 2016
Will Pinterest make Creative Commons images like this an endangered species?
Will Pinterest make Creative Commons images like this an endangered species? | Source

The Problem with Pinboards

Pinterest is the new social media darling taking the web by storm. On Pinterest, you "pin" images you find online and share them with fellow Pinterest members. They in turn can "repin" those images and share them.

Pinterest is fun! And the site looks fantastic.

Most Pinterest members are conscientious about giving a credit and a link back to the source. That gives it a little free PR. So everything's hunky dory, right?

Wrong. Thousands of Pinterest members are breaking copyright and causing headaches for artists, photographers, and bloggers. Many image owners don't mind at all, and are happy for the publicity! But for many photographers and artists, the problems caused by these copyright violations outweigh the benefits.

Update Feb 21, 2012: Bravo to Pinterest for attempting to address copyright concerns by providing a snippet of code so that sites can "opt out". It doesn't entirely solve the issue, since one shouldn't have to "opt out" of a service you didn't join, but it does help. On Hubpages, if you need to protect your photos from well-intentioned Pinners, edit your Profile, click "Social Networks", and click the "disallow Pinterest" checkbox.

Read on for why pinning a photo you don't own violates copyright, breaks image licenses, and is causing special problems for bloggers, photographers and artists.

Copyright: A Quick Primer

Copyright is the legal right of artists, authors, and photographers to decide how their own work is copied. (They may sell this right, and thus profit from their work.)

Therefore, giving credit and a link back does not satisfy copyright. You need permission.

Fair use does not say "it's okay to repost someone's work if you don't make money on it." Even if you don't, the copyright holder could — unless someone else is giving away that work for free!

Also, an image doesn't lose copyright when it's posted on the web.

What happens if you violate someone's copyright? Most artists and photographers are too nice to sue, and will simply request that you remove the copied work. However, a copyright owner can sue for damages, as one website discovered. That website paid $4000 in damages for a $10 stock photo they had used without permission, even though they removed the photo promptly after receiving a takedown notice.

Pinterest's Official Stance on Copyrighted Images

Pinterest's Terms of Use prohibit its members from posting copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission. Here's the relevant legalese:

"you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy..."

However, most Pinterest members ignore these rules. A quick glance at Pinterest.com shows that most pinned images are not owned by the person posting them.

Well, so what? It's bending the law, but what harm could it do, really?

Pinning an Image Competes With the Original

When someone pins an image, Pinterest doesn't just store a small thumbnail graphic with a link back to the site, as most social media sites do. Instead, pinning an image stores a full-sized copy, or at least a 500+ pixel copy, on Pinterest. A thumbnail tempts people to click and view the real thing; a full-sized copy doesn't.

Some people have defended Pinterest by comparing it to Google Image Search, but Google doesn't store copies (and defended itself in a lawsuit on that basis).

Say you remove a photo from your own site in order to sell it. Or say you find a copy of your art posted illegally on someone else's website and ask them to remove it. Once the image is removed, Google automatically drops it from search results, but Pinterest's full-sized copy of the image remains.

Again, so what?

Well, for starters, a lot of traffic comes to blogs and photography websites by searching for pictures of things. If someone pins a photo on Pinterest, they've created a competing version of the image, which could siphon image search traffic away from the source site.

For example, I have seen traffic to some of my own online articles drop, after a pinboard using my photos started outranking the original article in Google. This has resulted in real, measurable loss of income for me. Other artists, photographers and writers have reported similar problems.

But there's more serious problems to consider.

Pinning Violates Image Licenses

Online bloggers, writers, artists and photographers have a simple, legal way of benefiting from their images posted on the web: licensing.

An image license means the copyright owner gives permission for a specific, limited use, in exchange for something in return.

  • With stock photos, the "something" is money: people pay to use good-quality photos to make their websites or publications look great.
  • With Creative Commons licensing, the "something" is credit and a link back. A backlink is a valuable commodity: it not only sends traffic to the artist or photographer's website; it also can help a site rank better in search engines.
  • With affiliate marketing programs like Allposters.com or Zazzle.com, the affiliate may use small copyrighted images like movie posters or artwork in exchange for a link back to the store selling the poster or art.

Pinning a licensed photo cuts through these legal, mutually beneficial agreements like a machete through a spiderweb.

For example: At the top of this page is a pice of Creative Commons artwork. Artist Sterin Gianinni made it available in exchange for a credit and link back. But when (briefly) Hubpages added a "Pin It!" button at the top of the page, scores of people pinned that graphic and credited it to me, linking to this page, so that the artist gets no credit or promotion. This misattribution happens all the time on Pinterest. Imagine how it impacts Etsy shopkeepers and photographers.

Some of the generous people who offer their images under a Creative Commons license may hesitate to do so, if they see that Pinterest is going to kick that arrangement to the curb.

But even this is not the biggest problem with Pinterest.

Pinterest May Sell, Distribute, or "Exploit" Pinned Images

Pinterest's terms of use state that if you upload content to Pinterest, then you're giving Pinterest permission to distribute, sublicense, and sell that content:

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, *modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

*This allows Pinterest to justify replacing affiliate links with ones that earn money for Pinterest.

Furthermore, Pinterest provides an "embed" button next to every pinned image so that it may be displayed on anyone's blog or website.

Reread that sentence and think about what that means. Why license a Creative Commons Photo or stock photo, when you can just grab a "free" image on Pinterest and use it to jazz up your blog or article? Copyright, schmopyright!

Remember how I said that Pinterest's copy of an image may compete against the original for Google traffic? All those embedded versions of the cloned image will link back to Pinterest, and those backlinks may give it the edge.

More importantly, the embed codes mean Pinterest is giving the images away to anyone on the web to use on their websites. [Update: And millions of webpages are doing just that -- see sidebar below.] Third party websites are springing up which print books and posters of pinned photos, or sell the designs, or simply using pinned photos to make money by drawing traffic to their websites.

THAT is the real copyright threat from Pinterest. THAT is why many artists, photographers and bloggers are worried about Pinterest.

Update: Real-World Copyright Abuse Examples

[Update July 2013: Read this excellent blog post left on the comments of this page for ome of numerous examples of real-world photographers and bloggers hurt by image theft from Pinterest members, and how it impacted her. Or, for many other examples...]

A short blog post, "Information for Bloggers on Pinterest" by Amy Locurto, shares sobering real-world examples of how some Pinterest members are abusing copyright.

Amy reports on photos pinned without credit or link -- and this wasn't the rare exception. One correspondent found that of 100 copies of her photo posted on Pinterest, "maybe 5 were credited."

Worse, Locurto discovered that there are blog sites using photos found on Pinterest to get traffic: "People [are] actually creating 'Inspired by Pinterest' blogs based on this." Really, "Inspired by Pinterest" is a misnomer when you take the photo and parts of an article without even (in Locurto's example) a backlink!

So I did a Google search of:

-site:pinterest.com inspired by pinterest

and saw about 13 million results. (That search excludes pinterest.com itself). Some are original work inspired by pinned photos, but an awful lot of them are illustrated with those photos. Most are not Fair Use.

All the ones I checked earned money through advertising and/or sales. The page that comes up first in Google gives no image credits or backlinks. And two of the first five I checked included image credits to "Bing.com" and "Google," which I doubt are the names of the original photographers.

Concluding Thoughts

Right now, Pinterest is not selling images posted on it; it's just making money off them with advertising. But we all know from Facebook, Google, and numerous other examples that websites grow and turn a profit by exploiting more fully the content that users share on them. And even if Pinterest bucks the trend, by providing images via embed codes, it's enabled thousands of people to make money off pinned images they don't own.

I'm sure most Pinterest members don't mean to violate copyright, and they wouldn't dream of pirating and posting a commercial movie online. However, it seems to me that they're doing something similar. The chief difference is the victim: a small-time artist or photographer trying to eke out a living, instead of a big-budget movie studio raking in the bucks.

Solution? Ask permission! Many will be happy for the PR, while others may have good reasons for saying no. If you want to share an image with friends, but don't want to go to the trouble of asking permission, why not share a link to the source page through Twitter instead? Facebook also works: it only shows a thumbnail, which is legal, and people are more likely to click a thumbnail to see the original than to click a full-sized copy.

There are ways to use Pinterest legally. See this quick post (not mine): A Hubber's Guide to Pinterest. It talks about sharing your work while being an active, contributing member of the community. It's the one how-to I've seen that reconciles Pinterest's Terms of Use -- don't pin content you don't own -- with Pinterest's policy against too much self-promotion.


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    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      Great detective work, Greekgeek. I find that even concerned, educated netizens oftentimes merely skim the terms of use of online services, and sometimes just skip reading them entirely. Thanks for highlighting the salient points of Pinterest's terms. I was thinking of joining, but now I won't; I don't want to violate anyone else's copyright, and I'm damn sure not giving up my own!

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Marisa Wright 5 years ago from Sydney

      This is really, really important and it's sad that so many people don't care about the theft of images. Photographers are creative artists, just like writers. We get upset when someone steals our writing - why don't we recognize that photographers feel the same?

    • justateacher profile image

      LaDena Campbell 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

      I didn't even think about that! I assumed that everything was all hunky and dory when I "pin" others items...but you are right, I would hate it if someone used my original work because it was on Pinterest...voting up and sharing...

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 5 years ago from United States

      This is very interesting! Didn't Pinterest foresee this happening? I guess they did if they are reaping the benefits of someone else's work!

      Voted up and sharing!!

    • Kris Heeter profile image

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      Very interesting! It's sad that someone who did everything right and went through the licensing to acquire and post a photo on their site can then run the risk of getting caught up in the middle if someone else pins it. It'll be interesting to see how this all plays out in the future!

      Great hub!

      (and thanks to ThePracticalMommy for sharing with her followers - I would have missed this hub if not for her!)

    • imatellmuva profile image

      imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

      WOW! I have seen Pininterest info shared on Facebook, but never opened a link.

      You have certainly explained this quite thoroughly.I'm going to share this on my Facebook page. Hopefully it's read, and those who use Pininterest take heed to it!

      ...think I'll share it a few times! Voted UP, USEFUL and BOOKMARKED!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 5 years ago

      Very good information you have shared. I haven't used this site but now know not to. Thank you for sharing this hub.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Are you saying if we put our own work there they are free to sell it without sharing profit with the owner? Is it a paying site like hubpages?

    • Patti Riggs Hale profile image

      Patti Riggs Hale 5 years ago from Burdette, Arkansas

      Interesting information. Since Pinterest is so successful you would think someone would have called them on this and have them put a thumbnail up like Facebook.

      I always assumed I was driving traffic back to the blog that I was pinning and have been thanked for pinning photos showing examples of crocheted works and diy crafts. Those I assume are different since they are giving away this information free in order to get traffic to their blog? That's not a statement, I 'm asking.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks much for highlighting this issue. Looking as every aspect of using a site like Pinterest is important.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Jackie: Pinterest is still in the early stages, and right now, I believe Pinterest is only making money off pinned content indirectly, through advertising. They do not share that revenue with users any more than Facebook does. Social media sites generally don't. But if Pinboard becomes popular, like any other website, they are going to have to look for new ways to "monetize" -- make money -- off their service. So they wisely planned ahead and inserted that clause in their Terms of Service saying they CAN sell pinned content (or make money off of it in any way -- hence "exploit and sublicense"). And the "perpetual" clause lets them do it down the road with content posted now.

      Patti: many website owners and bloggers are quite happy to get a burst of traffic from "pins" of their content. They view Pinterest as free PR, and don't know or don't care about the issues I raised above. Generally, these are sites where the photo or artwork is not the chief product, but simply an illustration that supports the real core of the website. They're not planning to sell the images, and they're using those freebies to attract traffic, as you say, so for them it's a good deal. (Personally, I'd be a little worried about the Pinned photo getting traffic instead of the original, but I have no way to test that.)

      That's what's so frustrating about Pinterest: an idea with good intentions, which suits the needs of many people, yet which produces some unfortunate side effects.

      Personally, I feel the longterm risks of a pinned photo outweigh the short-term gain of social traffic, especially because I've seen how low the click-through rate can be. Since Squidoo added a "pin it" button to the top of its articles, some of its writers are reporting a trickle of Pinterest traffic to their articles, while others, tracking the few Pinterest visitors they're getting versus the number of "repins" -- are reporting that lots of Pinterest members "repin" photos without ever visiting the original site.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Very interesting information! I think Pinterest is fun and seems useful but now I am not so sure I want to use it the way I planned. Thanks for sharing this information!


    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 5 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      Pinterest is driving lots of traffic to my blogs and other online articles. That makes me far more willing to put up with the problems. It's tit for tat. I have found a few photos from my site where the pinner copied the entire text of my post. I reported it, but have yet to see any change. I don't want to file DMCA because I love that my photo and link are at Pinterest. I simply want people to come BACK to my blog to read the post, not read it on Pinterest.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Right! In your case, the photo is a lead-in to your content, so you don't mind pinned photos as long as they lead people to your content. I think the problem comes for people whose photo IS their content, if you see what I mean?

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thank you, I am glad I did not rush there as I was urged to do!

    • profile image

      bonnie jean woolger 5 years ago

      thanks for posting this. I have explored pinterest only a little and I am not sure I really "get" it but as an artist it scares me a bit.

    • profile image

      Karin 5 years ago

      I guess I don't understand how they could enforce the clause about permission to distribute, sublicense, and sell if content is uploaded by someone other than the copyright owner. If you don't own the content, you can't provide permission.

    • SMD2012 profile image

      Sally Hayes 5 years ago

      Great article. Voted this up and shared it on Facebook. Incredibly detailed and thorough. Thanks for your hard work researching the copyright issues with Pinterest. - S

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Karin -- Pinterest doesn't have to "enforce" the clause claiming permission to sell and distribute content posted on Pinterest. That clause just covers Pinterest's legal butt in a lawsuit. Since members who sign up for Pinterest agree to those terms of use, if an artist or photographer sues Pinterest for copyright violations, Pinterest can pass the buck -- and the liability in the lawsuit -- onto the member who posted the copyrighted content.

    • profile image

      MichelleG 5 years ago

      I'm curious though...Is there not a way for owners to "lock" photos so that they can't be copied or "pinned." And if so, woudn't it be up to the content owner to set those paramaters?

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Michelle: copyright IS the "lock". The law says that content posted on the web (or any digital format) is copyrighted, and that it is illegal to copy copyrighted material without permission.

      And no, there is no way to make images on the web un-copyable. Even if there were, people could just grab a screenshot. Plus, the software of Pinterest works by grabbing the same data your web browser needs to display a webpage. You couldn't stop Pinterest from doing that without stopping web browsers from seeing the content.

    • profile image

      MichelleG 5 years ago

      I guess I'm slightly ambivalent and can see the pros and the cons. Regardless, reminiscent of the same pro/con arguments surrounding SOPA.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Michelle: SOPA is unnecessary, if we just abide by the laws already in place to deal with copyright. If we don't, then a SOPA-like law becomes necessary to make the webhost as liable as the members who misuse it. I'd much rather we take care of the problem in a responsible way ourselves, without the hamfisted government barging in and enacting new, overly broad laws that penalize innocent people (those NOT violating copyright) who use a web service that's also used by violators.

    • profile image

      MIchelleG 5 years ago

      uhhhh....i never said i was in support of SOPA. quite the opposite. and yes, responsible behavior is all both of these arguments boil down to.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Michelle: I didn't think you were. Anyway, thanks very much for asking the tough questions! It's definitely an ongoing discussion, the same one the web has been having since SOPA forced us to really think about what works best for everyone using the web.

      I think we'll hammer out these problems with a workable compromise in the next several years. Right now, the web is --what, just about to turn 23--? and still getting a handle on its own capabilities.

    • profile image

      Stephani 5 years ago

      Wow! What an eye opener! I had no idea either, I just started enjoying it and thought it was great! Guess I better get off the band wagon!

    • profile image

      Cat Salter 5 years ago

      Interesting article which made me stop and think. As an artist Iunderstand the problems of copyright. I saw this article too today by a photographer which looks at the issue differently though. Very interesting...... . http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2012/02/13/why-photo...

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Actually, if you'll look up at my related links, I included that very article as an alternate take on this issue. So yes, I know there are several ways of looking at this. But I don't think anyone has looked closely at Pinterest's Terms of Use. I believe we need to make informed decisions about all this and think carefully about what we're doing, not rush in without understanding the ramifications.

      We may DECIDE to embrace Trey's philosophy and share our stuff with the world, but I personally don't feel comfortable making that decision for everyone else, too! (Personally, I like the Creative Commons and "pay it forward" philosophy: I reserve control of some of my work, but I also feel a responsibility to make some of my graphics and other work available as Creative Commons. I feel I should "give back" to the web in some way in exchange for all I've been given. But again, I don't feel I can just go through someone's website and decide which of their stuff they should share. It's their choice!)

    • profile image

      mel 5 years ago

      I just deleted my entire account...certainly not worth the trouble of having to deal with all of this....even though I had links back to where the photo was "pinned" from.....I'm out of there.

    • profile image

      Rona Tait 5 years ago

      I was invited to join, but unhappy about the breadth of exposure - like stealing famous and newly-produced works from the rooms in their galleries, to display in your own local gallery like newly-acquired possessions. The onus is then on the unfortunate artist (however flattered they may be) to spend valuable time searching daily for any possible/potential breaches of copyright. It's a sad fact that we have alarm systems, locks on our doors, PINs and other anti-theft devices to guard against the unscrupulous thief. While most people who admire others' work will innocently wish to share this pleasure, lurking in the background will be the takers of this world, ready to despoil for their own profit.

      Well done to you, Greekgeek, for highlighting this.

    • profile image

      Kellee 5 years ago

      I support Trey Ratcliff's position on this subject. It's time to think differently about the web and sharing and the opportunities it brings. If you are going to make yourself crazy over it, maybe it's best not to post full sized photos on the web. I know there are copyright laws, and I do my best to respect them, but I ALWAYS assume if I post something it is in danger of being violated on the web. There are laws against purse snatching, but if I leave my bag out in the open in a crowded shopping center, it's going to get taken. I know there are issues with the fine print on Pinterest, but there are issues with the fine print on most of the social media websites, and they are a part of every day life. Think of the out cry against youtube and tumblr and even facebook...these things have been appropriately sorting themselves out in fair and reasonable ways as the web evolves. I suspect Pinterest will do the same.

      I have found amazing blogs and artists and bought off of Etsy and now follow all kinds of websites on the internet because of what I have seen on Pinterest. Most people I know who use Pinterest have done the same thing. I have more traffic to my blog because of Pinterest. I think the gallery owners, record companies, publishers, and movie makers have more to be afraid of than the individual artists...social media is the door to new opportunities for people who would have not had a chance to make it otherwise. I am not going to be afraid of the new way of doing things in this modern world!

    • profile image

      MADART ~ Megan Aroon Duncanson 5 years ago

      If you post your own art/content on Pinterest YOU Cannot sue Pinterest if they chose to use your images in any way shape or form, because YOU have given up the copyright to your art and handed it over to them per their TOS.

      THAT is what I as an artist (fine art/painting) have a problem with, I license my art to other companies and get credit and royalties for it. So, if I give another company the right to use any of my images I post on

      their site without getting credit or royalties for it, I am hurting my relationship with my other licensing partners. Why should I allow one company to use my art for free, but expect others to pay for it?? That hurts me and my brand as an artist and I'm simply not willing to do it, something for any other artist wanting to license their art to think about....

    • profile image

      Marilyn of www.artbymarilyn.net 5 years ago

      This saddens me because etsy is using this. It was fun. Darn!!! It was fun.

    • profile image

      Anon 5 years ago

      If you don't want your material copied, misused, stolen, ect...Then the internet is not the place for it period. The internet is "free" and unfortunately anything you place on it can also be considered "free" by anyone in any country. Maybe not legally, but this stuff happens every minute and maybe only 3% of it will go to legal action.

    • profile image

      Angela 5 years ago

      Seems I'm in the minority here. I share my content online openly but also do not make money off anything I post. I'm also overjoyed when someone pins content from my blog. That being said, I'm pretty sure you can reach out to Pinterest and request your image be removed if that's your preference. Also, most serious photographers I know add a watermark to their photos - ensuring they get credit for the shot (probably because someone ripped them off before Pinterest came along). I don't do a lot of pinning straight from the Web but have to imagine most folks intend it as a compliment.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Jill: that's great, except that as I said above, linking and giving credit does NOT solve the issues of licensing. And it's still breaking copyright, even if you give credit and a link, unless you have permission to copy a photo. Credit and a link is sufficient -- as far as copyright law is concerned-- only with pictures offered under Creative Commons commercial-use-allowed or similar licenses. ;)

    • profile image

      Jessica 5 years ago

      This was an interesting article. However, the way I use pinterest is no different than having hundreds of thousands of bookmarks saved on my computer. I find something I like, something I want to try, I pin it. Clicking on the pin, when done correctly, takes me to whatever page it was originally pinned from. If I pin art, which is rare, I will make sure to give credit to the person from whom I pinned it.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      "the way I use pinterest is no different than having hundreds of thousands of bookmarks saved on my computer". No, it's not. That's personal use. When you pin something, you're sharing it with the entire planet. And, according to Pinterest's terms of use, you're making that content available to be sold or "exploited". You're posting it on a site with embed codes which can be used by any website to display that image.

      It's the difference between clipping out a magazine article and pinning it to your own desk cubicle, versus copying that article and uploading it to a commercial site that not only may make money off that article, but is making it available to any other website to repost without the original author's permission.

      Think about how you'd feel if you were a musician, and that pinned photo was a song you'd recorded. Now imagine that Pinterest was doing what it does with songs instead of pictures. Can you see why musicians would be dismayed if there was a hugely popular site where people posted digital copies of songs they liked for anyone to download, share, or embed on their own websites? Can you see why credit might not be enough to satisfy those musicians?

    • profile image

      Trish Barthorpe 5 years ago

      As a professional photographer I am very concerned about the lack of respect when it comes to copyrights. The idea that simply getting "credit" for an image is good enough seems strange. After all when you get your paycheck is there a dollar amount and then simply a list of credits?

      I don't understand how pintrest can simply pass the buck onto the poster. Until these sites are held leagally responsible for what they are doing we as photographers are going to have a hard time fighting each individual copyright infringement on our own.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Trish: I wish I could highlight your comment about credit and put it in 20 point type, to help people understand!

      In fact, I hesitate to suggest it because it might make you unpopular, but I think that "link with love" website Jill linked to above needs to hear EXACTLY what you just said. Would you consider going there and repeating what you just said about giving credit vs. a paycheck?

      I fear some well-intentioned souls have started that "movement" in a misguided attempt to help with the copyright issue. I explained above that a link with credit doesn't satisfy copyright, but clearly, talking about what's legal doesn't get through to most people. They need a reason to follow the law. You just gave the reason!

    • CarolRucker profile image

      Carol Rucker 5 years ago from Cincinnati

      Thanks for the information. I write for several sites. I have no problem with them using a portion of my articles and accompanying photos as long as they do a link back to my full article. (I've found a few of my articles and videos have been stolen, so I understand the feeling.)

      In sharing other people's links, I'm following a social media norm it took me a while to learn from twitter and Facebook: Don't just post your own stuff. Everything I share has links back to the original site.

      Even though I strive to avoid copyright infringement, your article has given me a few things to think about.

      I know many bloggers and website owners love the idea of someone sharing their links just like I do, but I don't have time to seek and get permission from them. That would eliminate the spontaneity I enjoy with Pinterest.

      Oh well, I suppose I should just share my own stuff from now on.

    • profile image

      Amy Locurto 5 years ago

      Thanks for this information. I have written a few articles that have been getting a lot of discussion going if you would like to read these as well. Here is my first one that leads to an article about how Pinterest is changing the way I blog. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

      Information for Bloggers and People Who Use Pinterest:


    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Amy: thank you! I actually linked to your article at the end of mine. Also, I did some web research based on what you reported. I knew that Pinterest's embed codes COULD be used by people grabbing photos for their blogs and websites. Your article suggested to me what phrase I needed to Google in order to discover lots of examples proving that yes, that's exactly what's happening.

      Mind you, some of those may be considered Fair Use: excerpting for the porpose of critique/commentary is permissible. But I'm not sure it's Fair Use if you use the entire work rather than just an excerpt.

    • profile image

      Amy Locurto 5 years ago

      Thank you! I just saw where you refer to my article. Thanks so much for bringing more attention to the "Pinterest Inspired" sites. Where are the "Google Image" Or "Flickr" Inspired sites? It's just the beginning of the mis-use of Pinterest and similar bookmarking sites.

    • Greekgeek profile image

      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      The thing is, I do also believe very strongly in the "transformative works" factor of Fair Use (if one can believe in a legal provision). I think that creating new and substantive based on, or inspired by, a work is a valuable part of art and creativity -- Michaelangelo was inspired by Greek statues, after all, and that Obama "Hope" poster was definitely creating something original and meaningful based on an AP photo that otherwise would've disappeared into obscurity. Fair Use does allow for that. But I think a lot of those "inspired by" posts are competing with the original work and wouldn't hold up under the "Four Factors" of Fair Use.

      Some of this will have to be hashed out by the courts. But in the meantime, we just need to be careful. For people selling products, Pinterest can actually actually helpful, because in their case, the money-earner is not the photo, but the product the photo depicts. So for them, the traffic from a pin can be a benefit far outweighing the copyright violation. For photographers, however, the photo IS the product, so copying it threatens your livelihood! Those doing the pinning can't be sure which of the two it is, so they need to ask.

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      Mike Hardisty 5 years ago

      I've just started using Pinterest but as a photographer it was worrying me about the copyright issue. I thought that Pinterest would drive traffic to anything that was pinned but more and more I was beginning to see that it's not the case. I think it's time to look at whether or not I should be still participating in Pinterest.

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      Work it 5 years ago

      By putting your work, anywhere on the web, you are exposing yourself to all sorts of copyright violators. If someone wants your work, they will take it and do as they please. And just because it's copyrighted, doesn't mean someone in another country isn't going to snag it and make it their own by putting your image on the side of a bus or on a billboard. Get smart with your images. Watermark them. Edit your exif data. Quit pushing off your responsibility of your intellectual property on other entities. Be proactive instead of reactive. You'll go further. If someone threatens your livelihood by copying your photo, you have yet to realize people (including children) grow from mimicking. How did you make that fabulous photo? You learned the technique from someone else. Step outside of the box. If a pinner has to ask, you haven't done your job to provide them w/the data.

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      Marisa 5 years ago

      Um. . . when I first signed up for Pinterest, their TOS asked us NOT to post our own images; that Pinterest was not for self promotion. So we can't post our own images, and we can't post other people's images. What exactly are we supposed to post?

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      Danielle Lynn 5 years ago

      Fantastic look at Pintrest. I've heard a lot about it in the last few days, but this is the first thought-provoking one. The most shocking part is the part in their TOS that allows Pintrest to basically do whatever they want with what you pin.

      I think I'm going to wait a bit before I jump aboard the Pin-train.

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      Ellen 5 years ago from California

      Nope. I don't have a Facebook account and don't use the site. Did you actually read the article? I'm talking about copyright.

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