Why I’m against Pinterest.

I’ve been quite vocal on line in the last few weeks about the site Pinterest and how I’ve been finding my own images on there, without my permission being sought to put them there.

Copyright violation and rights of use violations on this site are rife. Marketing people seem to like the site from a retail point of view may be, but I’m not a retailer.

Things are starting to change, but slowly in the favour of copyright holders like myself. Pinterest this week released some code you can include on your website to prevent people ‘pinning’ your content on to Pinterest.

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

You put this code in to the header of your site, it won’t be seen by users, but if they attempt to Pin your site content they will see a message from Pinterest advising them that the site owner does not give permission for their content to be pinned.

This of course does not prevent people from downloading your image by say right clicking on the image and then uploading it as their own. So once you have added the code above, don’t sit back and think that your worries are over….

If you have images on Flickr. Go in to your account and disable ‘Sharing’ This prevents sharing of your images on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook et al.

Why is Pinterest bad news for Photographers like myself? Take a read of this article on the Photoshelter blog.  But as a photographer would I post any of my images on their site? No I don’t think so… especially when I read this post on Direct Match Media. As soon as you upload your images to Pinterest… you are handing over to them the rights for them to do what they want with your images… including the sale of them. It’s all in the Terms of Use of their site.

How many people bother to read these terms of use before they sign up which incidentally has to be done with your Twitter account and Facebook account, but that’s a whole new can of worms!

The bits I didn’t like are:

Member Content

We may, in our sole discretion, permit Members to post, upload, publish, submit or transmit Member 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. Cold Brew Labs does not claim any ownership rights in any such Member Content and nothing in these Terms will be deemed to restrict any rights that you may have to use and exploit any such Member Content.

So who with any sense would upload images that they hold the copyright to anyway? Certainly not me.

To prevent further stealing of my images I have for the time being removed all but two images from my Flickr account, I will review the situation in a few weeks time if the theft of my content reduces and we find that the code mentioned above is effective or not.

If you find your content on the Pinterest site, they have made it slightly easier this week to report copyright infringements on the site. Previously I was emailing them 2 or 3 times a week with links to my content. I’ve used this form already and the content was removed in a matter of hours.

Protect your images, but don’t stop taking pictures.

18 thoughts on “Why I’m against Pinterest.

  1. kanalt17

    I have been watching your comments regarding Pintrest with interest. Many public libraries are starting to use it as a marketing tool (how exactly, I’m not sure). I am responsible for most of my library’s marketing, and so based on your comments and articles, I have warned my director of the possible issues with it. Because of that we are staying away from it for now until we know more about how libraries are using it. As an organization, we don’t want to be pinning content that isn’t ours or allowing others to pin our content. So thanks for all of your work in being against it – it’s helped me do my job responsibly. =)

  2. Steve Post author

    Hi Susan
    Thanks for your comment.

    If people pin other peoples content then there is a problem as I see it with copyright and use of material, especially when you see what Pinterest sign people up to allow them to do.

    If you pin your own content then you open the door for them to do anything they want with your content.

    A you lose B you lose. I just can’t see the point of the site or why so many people have signed up for it and are using it to the extent they are doing so.

    I would be interested in any information you can add to my own findings.


  3. kanalt17

    I am going to a program about it in September. Even though it’s main focus will be on how libraries are using it, I’ll let you know if I find out anything about it in general.

  4. Ellen

    There is one other huuuuuge issue that Pinterest raises which other sites don’t: it provides embed codes next to every pinned photo, allowing third parties to embed those photos on blogs and websites.

    Pinterest may or may not make money selling or monetizing pinned photos in the future. But thousands of third party sites are already making money off of pinned photos NOW by using them as illustrations, or rather, the main content, of blog posts, using those photos to get traffic and earn advertising and affiliate revenue from the views those embedded photos generate.

    See stock photographer Amy Locurto’s report on real-world cases of this:

    When I did a web search of “inspired by pinterest -pinterest.com”, I found many more examples, and among those examples, many did not correctly attribute the photo. Some even had Google or Bing listed at the photo source, although the photos themselves were embedded from and served up from Pinterest.

    1. Steve

      Hi Ellen
      Thanks for your comment and also for the link to that other article… you only have to look at the track back links at the foot of that post to see there are more than a handful of people concerned with this issue.

      It’s now a known fact that Pinterest do store a 600 pixel version of all images loaded on to the site, effectively caching the image.

      They are going to monetize the site in the near future, how else can they be making money to fund the servers and bandwidth?

      As I point out they also keep the door open to ‘exploit’ your work in any way they care to. But no mention of compensating you in any way.

      Again thanks for visiting and for commenting.

  5. Anna

    “I just can’t see the point of the site or why so many people have signed up for it and are using it to the extent they are doing so.”

    Hi there–I came over here from Plannerisms.

    I’m one of those who is using it for recipes, ideas for crafts, things like that. I can understand if you are a photographer or artist and don’t want your work/creative work uploaded to the site. That makes sense to me. But I don’t understand why it is copyright infringement to pin a picture of a recipe or of a kid’s craft that a mom-blogger has on her website.

    I am not trying to be snarky, I’m really trying to understand why it’s so “bad”. I understand that if you are trying to make money off other’s images/work or trying to pass work/images as your own, that’s a problem (copyright infringement). Why is pinning a recipe a problem?

    I appreciate your viewpoint as well as your willingness to share with us!

    1. Steve

      Hi Anna
      ‘Why is pinning a recipe a problem?’

      Are you the copyright holder of that recipe? Is that recipe someone elses intellectual property? You might not be making any profit from pinning that content on Pinterest… but it opens the door for Pinterest through their terms and conditions to start making a profit from the content posted there.

      The other issue is the reuse of content on other sites. If it is licensed under a Creative Commons license then this might in some versions allow the work to be reused but sometimes only on a non-profit basis. Again you might not make any profit from it. But by pinning it on Pinterest it allows them to make a profit from it. By pinning on Pinterest you aren’t showing the full terms of the license agreement when pinned.

      Thanks for your comment and taking the time to visit my site.

      1. Anna

        “Are you the copyright holder of that recipe?”
        This is a good point. I visit a lot of recipe blogs and it’s interesting to see that many many times, the same recipe is on different blogs. Someone will write: “I found this at XYZ Blog” and then post pictures etc. Nothing from the recipe has changed. It would be interesting to see who really does have the copyright on those recipes.

        How does Pinterest differ from bookmarking the site? I guess b/c as you said, Pinterest then owns the pin/picture etc.

        I appreciate your explanation!

        1. Steve

          It’s the way Pinterest have defined their terms of use of anything you put on their site that is of concern to me. And if someone is putting it there without my knowledge/permission then it is very difficult to reassume the rights to my images, Just unpinning them is not good enough, once it’s appeared on there they claim rights over the images unless I specifically raise a copyright issue with them, which I’ve been doing constantly for the last few weeks each time it’s happened.

          Now we have the ‘No Pin’ code in place it seems to be reducing, but I’m still alert to the instances where someone downloads the image and then posts it as their own.

          Thanks for your understanding.

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  7. Bridgettt

    FYI. Recipes are among the many things that aren’t copywriteable (Is that a word?) A book of recipes yes because you have created something unique but the recipe itself falls under the category of facts and you can’t make a claim of copyright for a fact.

    That said, Pinterest does have an extremely disturbing license agreement. I’ve read it and I believe that it is written (1) to allow them to monetize the images contained within the site and (2) to put all the onus of copyright claims and damages on the user. For example, in the event of a copyright challenge Pinterest could just say that Person X asserted that all of the images belonged to Person X and that they had the right to transfer the rights of the photo to Pinterest thereby absolving Pinterest of any responsibility legally. Who knows what would really happen in court but that is the basic thrust of what I read as Pinterest’s angle in that license agreement.

  8. Pingback: Pinterest, Copyright & Having To Delete My Images « Not Just A Mummy

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  10. Yvonna

    Question …. if I place a quote from someone else on a photo that I’ve taken, and place it on Pinterest, am I infringing copyright of someone else’s words??

    1. Steve

      Yes, unless you include a reference to the source of the quote, but the law varies in different parts of the world.

      1. Yvonna

        Thanks Steve … just to clarify, this would be an example of a quote:

        “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
        Albert Einstein


        “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
        Nelson Mandela

        Is this reference enough to the person to use on my own photos and not infringe copyright?? Or do I need to ask permission (of course, not possible with Einstein)

        1. Steve

          A quote of a text form it ok on it’s own but generally you would credit the source of the quote and from what publication or where they said it and when, it brings together in terms of research the source of things quoted.

          In terms of pictures you would need to seek permission to use it, just quoting the source to me isn’t enough. I would want to know where you might want to use my picture and for what purpose because you are associating the photographer with your site, product, service or whatever.


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