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Why I don’t want my images on Pinterest

February 9, 2013

Don't Pin From This Blog


Apologies for posting out of my ‘advertised’ schedule!  After my last post I said I’d be doing a follow-up about the impact of copyright infringement on the value of our work.  That will be coming … it’s just that events have moved on apace.

As intimated in my last post, I was worried about the impact of my images appearing on Pinterest – far from sight of the Copyright Notice that you can see over there in my sidebar.  When I first realised my images were appearing on Pinterest I was flattered that people liked my stuff enough to put it there, and I thought it might lead a few more interested readers to my blog.  Even so, I decided to join Pinterest myself, just so I could keep an eye on things and if necessary comment on what was being said about my work.  I even did a little ‘pinning’ myself.  I was cautious about copyright, though.  The first thing I did was prevent my pages from showing up in Google searches: who am I to tout other people’s images around the world?!  The next thing was that I had a rule of treating images I pinned as a means of directing viewers to the rightful owner.  Pinterest actually does this anyway – every image is linked to the website from where it was taken – but the images I pinned were not just pictures I liked; they were usually linked to tutorials and ‘how to’s’.  What I was saying was ‘Go here, there’s a really good tutorial on xxx.’  Whilst I was undoubtedly ‘pinning’ other people’s images, what I was doing really was recommending others to visit their blogs.  Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until yesterday that I actually read the Pinterest Terms of Service.  This is what I found:

‘If you post your content on Pinterest, it still belongs to you but […] You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest’

The problem is that most people don’t ‘pin’ their own stuff; they post someone else’s. Pinterest go on to say:
‘Pinterest respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree not to post any User Content that violates any law or infringes the rights of any third party.’

In other words, Pinterest absolve themselves of any blame if any user posts images on the site without the permission of the rightful owner. What’s more, even if any images are removed at the request of the rightful owner, Pinterest may retain them ‘for a commercially reasonable period of time for backup, archival, or audit purposes. Furthermore, Pinterest and its users may retain and continue to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute any of your User Content that other users have stored or shared through Pinterest.’

Effectively, then, if I ‘pin’ your images, I am giving away rights that are simply not mine to give, and that you will not be able to get back, and I am very worried about having done this.  Equally, if you ‘pin’ mine, you’re effectively converting my ‘All Rights Reserved’ Copyright Notice into a Creative Commons Licence.  To make it absolutely clear: it’s not the sharing of my work that bothers me, provided this is done with my permission and with appropriate copyright statements attached; it is the nature of the contract that anyone who posts images on Pinterest are making with that company in respect of my work that is my cause for concern.  And this same concern is why I’ve now deleted the pinboards I had created.

Pinterest say you can prevent people from ‘pinning’ from your website, but the burden of doing this rests with the website owner.  They publish a code that you can paste into any page.  Should anyone try to ‘pin’, a notice pops up to the effect that this website doesn’t allow it.  Unfortunately this code doesn’t work on blogs, and at the present time WordPress haven’t come up with a widget of their own that can be used instead.  I have now asked them to do this.

In the meantime, please don’t ‘pin’ any images from my blog.

If you have already ‘pinned’ I understand absolutely that you did so for entirely honourable reasons, but please remove my images from Pinterest.  I’ve already started writing to each person who has pinned, and at least one person has already removed my image – Thank You!  Unfortunately, since I was pasting the same words for each request, the Pinterest robots stepped in and prevented further actions on the basis that I was a suspected spammer!  Ye gods!!!

Finally, if you have a blog, and if you’re concerned about this issue, please join me in asking WordPress to develop a widget that those of us who don’t want to be ‘pinned’ can use to prevent it.  I’ve already written to the excellent WordPress Support team about this, and I’ve also started a thread on the WordPress Forum.  I won’t post a link, since this is only available to WordPress members, but here’s how to find it:

  • Go to your dashboard
  • Scroll down to the bottom
  • Click on Forums
  • Enter the word ‘Pinterest’ in the search box and hopefully you’ll find my post.

Yours, really, genuinely at the end of my tether…

(I promise … next time I post it will be nice pictures of bunny rabbits or some such!)

18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2013 6:34 pm

    No apology necessary for posting out of schedule, Janice. This is important, and you have a better background for understanding the implications than many of the rest of us.

    Thank you.

  2. February 10, 2013 4:27 am

    Since you seem pretty serious about your request, it may not be a bad idea to add a little watermark to your images saying please don’t pin ( or something similar). That way it may serve as a reminder to people viewing your posts. Just a thought, good luck.

    • February 10, 2013 8:24 am

      Thanks for your comment Dee, which I appreciate.

      There are 1723 images on my blog. All of them since November 2009 have my watermark. There’s also a copyright notice in my sidebar, additional copyright notices on the posts with photos that my stats show attract most interest, and now a big yellow box that says ‘Don’t Pin!’ with a link to this post explaining why not! I’ve written to Pinterest (who say they don’t have time to deal with queries like mine), started to write individually to everyone who has put my images on Pinterest (a slow process, because I have to write different words each time to avoid detection by the anti-spam robots), and I’ve started a campaign on WordPress.

      Short of going around to everyone’s house and sitting by them while they go blog hopping, I don’t see what else I can do!

  3. February 10, 2013 4:01 pm

    Well! I think I did put a couple of potions from wildwood photographs on Pinterest but obviously like you, I thought the same. Not a good idea after all.

    • February 10, 2013 4:11 pm

      OMG! I forgot about Potions! Just went over there to look and found a lot of pins and repins. Actually, I’m not so bothered about them – they are just quick photos of the preparations, and the pins are just ways of finding the recipes again. Although in fact I’ve recently made that blog private, also because of copyright concerns – a few of the recipes I put on there were from books. I pinned a handful of your lotions and potions too, but I’ve now taken them all down and bookmarked the links on my computer instead.

  4. February 14, 2013 9:07 pm

    Thanks so much for this very important post. I’m in the process of checking my posts now. I’m a newbie at blogging so this couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Pinterest will be a much bigger job.

  5. February 15, 2013 8:05 pm

    Hi Janice, thanks so much for this and the last post. This is such a complicated frustrating issue. I’m sure this info will help lots of people. I really hope there will be a solution for all of this soon. Please keep us posted. We love bunnies but this is so important too! Thanks again. xo

  6. February 16, 2013 12:31 pm

    Hi Janice

    It’s been great reading your opinion on Pinterest, and I’m in complete agreement with your stance on Pinterest’s copyright policy. I’m optimistic, and Pinterest is a fairly new thing. From what I’ve read of the designer’s, they are quite interested in users’ opinions, and are still shaping the site to users’ demands. I do hope that one day soon they can resolve their policy so that it can indeed be something we can use without unduly upsetting anyone.

    I’m working on a low budget feature film, designing it. In film-making designers have used mood boards for a long time, to express ideas of where they want to take the film, in terms of colour, tone, texture, motif… Pre-internet, this work was mostly done by collecting images from magazines, photocopying them, cutting out, and pasting collages onto mounting boards. Hence: “mood board”. I’ve only recently started using Pinterest as a tool for this. It’s great for me, because it allows me to use the most valuable resource of images out there: the internet. And I don’t have to print onto paper.
    As the boards are free to see on-line, I do have to be careful not to give away any information about the production I’m working on. But likewise, I do try to be careful about what content, and who’s content, I use. I don’t create the boards for the general public. They will never be shared in a promotional way. But they do allow me and my team to share ideas from our respective parts of the world, with directors, cinematographers, costume designers, make-up artists, and for us all to collaborate in a unique way.

    One of my team did pin one of your beautiful photographs: our apologies for that. She has already removed it. She must not have seen your ‘do not pin’ notice.
    But hey, it’s brought me here: I’ve seen your work – it’s great – and I will be sure to put Newchurch Cemetery on my places-to-visit list, next time I’m on the Isle of Wight!

    Best regards


    • March 3, 2013 10:32 am

      Hello Damien,

      Thank you for your message, and thanks for removing my image from Pinterest.

      I agree with you – it’s a pity the Pinterest Terms go too far, and that the licence granted to them and to all their users simply by virtue of pinning is too far ranging. Bearing in mind the genuine, honest use (such as yours) that most people using Pinterest have in mind when pinning, there is much that could be done to improve the Terms of Service. As I said in my blogpost, I did a little pinning myself before I read the Terms, and of course I’m flattered that anyone likes my stuff enough to want to pin it on a mood or inspiration board. Some of the boards I’ve seen are truly a delight to see.

      Having said all that, Pinterest know that the vast majority of people pin images that are not their own, and yet their Terms of Service are written as though this is the exception. The ‘pinner’ grants Pinterest and all its users a kind of Creative Commons Licence that may well be in conflict with the licence reserved by the person who does actually own the copyright. Pinterest have written themselves out of all responsibility for this by saying they assume people pinning have gained the permission of the copyright owner before doing so; and the Terms also include a clause to the effect that if Pinterest are sued as a result of any images being pinned on ther site, the original pinner will be liable for Pinterest’s costs as well as their own! The ease of pinning is also in conflict with this. All you need to do to pin is download the ‘pinmarklet’ and then start pinning from anywhere you like, without any stage of the process requiring the permission of the copyright holder. And the code provided by Pinterest that website owners can insert to prevent the pinmarklet from working doesn’t work on all blogging platforms – including WordPress. And as for the facility for individuals’ Pinterest boards to be searchable by Bing, Google and the like – well, this is something I just can’t understand, since all the pinner has done is gathered together images they like!

      If Pinterest could completely revise their Terms of Service to reflect the way their website is actually being used, I would be interested in using it and allowing my images to be pinned. As it stands, and speaking here as a law graduate, there are just too many problems with it for me to want to be part of it.

      Good luck with your film, I hope all goes well. And yes – regarding Newchurch cemetry, it is a wonder to behold at this time of year when all the snowdrops are in bloom. It’s definitely worth a visit.

  7. Zehra permalink
    February 28, 2013 8:38 pm

    I am one of the aforementioned offenders. I repinned an image of some needlework (a Hungarian border to be specific.) I am so sorry!! After reading your post I just wanted to apologize. I completely understand your reluctance at having images pinned. I had never been to your site until the email I received from Pinterest regarding them removing a pin. Great site! I’ve already explored a bit and look forward to reading more without any pins!

    • March 3, 2013 9:32 am

      Hello Zehra, thank you so much for your kind message. Please don’t worry – I understand absolutely that people generally don’t read the Pinterest Terms of Service and so don’t understand the legal implications of pinning. As I said in this post, I didn’t read them myself until quite recently, and was quite taken aback by them when I did.

      Anyway – think no more of it. And now that you’ve found my blog, you’re very welcome. Hope you find more ideas and topics that interest you.

  8. March 3, 2013 3:38 pm

    For Kelly, who would like her comments to be published:

    Here’s the thing, Kelly, blogging is a hobby for me, not a full time job. At the time you sent your second comment I was in the process of replying to other comments received recently and visiting other blogs. There is no published time deadline in which I have to do this.
    Your comment hadn’t appeared, not because I had deleted it, but because I hadn’t yet got around to authorising its publication. This is how things work on WordPress. I have to authorise the first message.

    However, having received your second message, I have decided not to authorise publication.

    I am responsible for what appears on this blog, and it is a respectful place where I share things and interact with a group of people who have become my friends. Anyone can join in, but I’m not interested in having arguments and being provocative. In blogging as in life I have thought carefully about what I think and what’s important to me. I’m not interested in ramming my opinion down other people’s throats and I have no wish to be subjected to that by anyone else. A quick glance through the posts on my blog and through the comments left by others will tell you what sort of blog this is. There are many other blogs where you can argue and have your say, but that isn’t what this blog is about.

    The fact is that your comment didn’t really have anything constructive to add to what I had already said in my post about Pinterest and the previous one about the blogger who was sued for using another person’s images. If you want to use Pinterest, if you are a blogger and want to take other people’s images … that’s up to you, and nothing to do with me. But you mustn’t take any more of mine. I have decided not to use Pinterest and I have decided to announce that since I would like to retain my All Rights Reserved copyright, I do not wish my images to appear on Pinterest. There is really nothing you can add to that. It is my legal right. And regarding your point as follows:
    ‘If you don’t want people to be able to see/copy/save/pin/share your images and blog content, then, although I would be sad to lose such a great blog, perhaps you should reconsider the concept of online blogging.’
    … well, I was blogging long before Pinterest arrived on the scene. And if you take the time to read the Pinterest Terms of Service you will see that their service purports to be aimed primarily at people who wish to pin THEIR OWN images, and who therefore have the legal right to grant the license Pinterest require.

    If you read my post above you would understand that. And if you read the comments above and my replies to them you will see that my issue is not with any individual who has pinned without understanding the legal implications, but with those Pinterest Terms of Service which I believe should be revised. There is really nothing to add to that, and whether you agree with it or not is neither here nor there. These are my images, I own them, I would like to retain control over who uses them and for what purpose, I would like my All Rights Reserved copyright to be clearly visible, and if my images are being used for commercial purposes I would like to be fairly recompensed.

    Legal copyright exists whether you approve of it or not, and however much this digital age has thrown up challenges to its practical application. Whilst I am naturally flattered that someone may like my images sufficiently to want to include them on an inspiration board, whilst some of the pinboards I’ve seen are truly a delight to look at, and whilst I know that the majority of users are good, honest people who just want to collect together pictures they like: the fact remains that there are problems with how Pinterest currently operates, and until the Terms of Service are revised to something I personally feel happy with, I will not be using Pinterest and will exercise my legal right to have my work excluded. Please respect that and DO NOT post any more of my images on Pinterest.

    Equally, I promise not to take the photos or breach the copyright of anyone else. Please now let this matter rest.

  9. March 5, 2013 7:14 am

    I know I’ve wrestled with this. I really love pinning for some reason. Maybe I’ll take courage from you and quit???? I’m not sure I can part with my sewing boards though. So many good ideas.

  10. March 5, 2013 7:21 am

    I noticed images are being pinned from your flicker account as well😦

  11. March 26, 2013 8:32 pm

    Thanks for a well reasoned post. I’m afraid *i* have come across as strident and obsessed in complaining about the copyright violations inherent in using pinhercrap (as i call it), but calm and polite just didn’t work in most cases. I’m *not* flattered when my work is pinned——i’ve subsequently found it on strange sites and no credits asked for before or given after. I’ve seen it attributed to other artists. I’ve seen it on “boards” with slightly nasty titles. I’ve been accused of being petty, stupid, weird and untalented by the pinner:) and had evil emails privately. The specious arguments that they use in saying they are “promoting” me are ridiculous, as are the claims that by putting it online, it’s fair game and that i should go away and never post again if i don’t want my images taken.

    In “the old days” you didn’t put someone else’s work on your blog without asking, and people could get quite nasty, sometimes with great reason! Now it seems to be a very cavalier attitude across the board on using someone else’s images anywhere they please (and pinhercrap is only one of many of these abhorrent image scrapers…). I doubt that most pinners even READ, never mind *understand* the “rules”……..the web has become the illustration for the phrase “the lowest common denominator is mediocrity” when it comes to manners and respect. Most Google searches now lead to pins rather than the actual artist website, which often takes bread and butter and the odd luxury once in awhile of a lump of sugar from the mouth and table of the artist and his/her family, whether an actual sale or a networking opportunity for future recompense.

    That all being said, i laugh now when i find them–DMCA filing and “strikes” are mere drops in the bucket this issue is, but hopefully several new lawsuits that are being tried will put some sense to this. I also post publicly about my experiences: screenshots with names and comments are unassailable when the URL is attached!

    Again, thanks for a cogent and calm post about a subject i am passionate about: protecting the artist.

    • March 27, 2013 6:34 am

      Thank you Arlee. You’ve just summarised perfectly what has happened to me since I’ve taken my ‘No Pinning’ stand. Emails from people who have received notices of removal of one of my images from Pinterest telling me ‘you have elected to have a blog and if I you’re not prepared to share or have stuff pinned then you should reconsider the concept of blogging’. Then there’s ‘it should be enjoyed by others, not just yourself just because you took a photo of it’ and ‘these are material things which we can’t take to heaven, so why fret over it since it all belongs to God anyway.’ Foolishly, I entered into correspondence with the last person, explaining the legally problematic position of Pinterest, and indeed that I have always taken a very generous approach to charitable organisations, school students and even people starting their own businesses who can’t afford to pay for the use of a photo. But that despite this, I do want to retain control over who uses my work and why, and if someone wants to use it for commercial reasons I want a reasonable cut of that, as set out in the ‘My Photos’ page of my blog. I also explained that although the image in question (which, incidentally, had been pinned straight from a search engine without even a link back to me!) may indeed have been ‘just a photo’ to her, it was in fact a photo of a piece of work that had taken me ten years to complete – a total of more than 600 hours work!!! And even if it had been ‘just a photo’, the fact is it is MY photo, taken with expensive equipment I’ve invested in and drawing upon my investment of time and money to study photography, practise it, and make the effort to go on trips where I could use it. In reply – two emails, because she had to have the last word – I learned that I am ‘defensive’ and ‘clearly threatened by her’, but that she wouldn’t be pinning any more of my images because she ‘doesn’t like my tone’!

      I won’t be entering into any more ‘discussions’ with such people. But I am saving their emails in a special folder to be used in evidence in future correspondence with Ben Silberman.

      I have now spent an inordinate amount of time changing the settings on my Flickr page to prevent downloading and pinning, beefing up my copyright statement on my blog, creating this ‘No Pinning’ badge and sticking it in my sidebar in a prominent position and adding a note to all new and to my most regularly pinned posts asking that my copyright notice and no pinning notice be respected. I am astonished that despite this people are STILL pinning. Sometimes I look at a pinned photo and I see from the layout on the page that they simply couldn’t have pinned it without seeing the bright yellow ‘No Pinning’ badge immediately to the right of the image – yet they still think they have the right to pin and I have no right to refuse. I was particularly upset to see that some of my family photos had been pinned. So I went through every one, adding a caption to the photo itself saying ‘This is a personal photo and I will not give permission for its use under any circumstances. Please don’t pin.’ STILL people pinned them. I have now had to go through my entire blog making all these posts private. I wanted to share the little stories, but now I can’t. Then there’s the action I took on Pinterest itself: I wrote a personal comment to everyone who had pinned one of my images, politely explaining why I didn’t want it there and asking them to remove it. I thought that from a legal perspective this declares my position that my work is not covered by the Pinterest royalty free licence, and from a user perspective, anyone else seeing it would realise this was an image that shouldn’t be repinned. But no… Yesterday one person repinned THREE of these images! So the polite way doesn’t work, and now I have to go through and serve a formal notice for every single one of my images.

      I am at my wits’ end! WHY is it that putting something on my blog is ‘not sharing’; and I am only really ‘sharing’ – indeed, apparently, only really even a decent person – if my work is ‘shared’ by someone who has no right to share it on someone else’s website called ‘Pinterest’?

  12. March 28, 2013 3:31 pm

    What an interesting post, a worrying one too. I have read it several times to be sure I understood everything well. I have noticed that some of my pictures are on Pinterest too, no mention of my name. Some of my pictures have been stolen on flickr and posted under someone’s else name too. They were removed after I complained. I enjoy blogging, sharing my thoughts and pictures. Is it worth though?
    Thank you Janice for all the precious information you shared.

  13. May 31, 2013 3:48 pm

    May I use your no pin button and link to this page? I have had so many people ripping me off, and I don’t mean individuals but companies and people just don’t seem to get why pinning or using our images on their blogs can become a major problem

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