Pinterest, Copyright and Spam - for Visual Artists & Photographers

What are people saying about copyright infringement, spam and Pinterest?

Are your images on Pinterest without your permission?

Are your images being used by spammers to direct people to spam sites?

Does Pinterest infringe the copyright of photographers and other visual artists?

Are you trying to keep track of everything that's being said about Pinterest, its terms and conditions and the copyright and spam issues re photography, art and crafts?


This site comes in SIX parts.

These are:

1) TIPS AND TUTORIALS for protecting your artwork - provides details about how to find images which have been stolen, how to get your images removed quickly from Pinterest and how to prevent images from being pinned and/or taken without your permission in future

2) PINTEREST - THE COMPANY - it starts with a review of statements by Pinterest and then provides links to the updated terms of service and comment thereon

3) COPYRIGHT AND FAIR USE - THE LAW provides an overview of the relevant parts of copyright law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act - which underpins the use of DMCA Notices to remove copyrighted material from a website

4) COMMENTARY ON PINTEREST AND COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT aims to provide a categorised listing of all articles which will be edited to produce a resource which will be kept updated as the debate progresses - and any changes to the terms and conditions emerge

5) WHAT PINTEREST NEEDS TO DO - sets out the changes which need to be made to stop the confusion and poor practices relating to copyright infringement

6) SPAM ON PINTEREST what the problems are, what Pinterest is doing and what it wants you to do - and how effective Pinterest is in reducing spam (not very!)



6th April 2012 PINTEREST REVISED ITS TERMS OF SERVICE See below for more details


30th April 2012 NEW Pinterest Statement about Proper Attribution - see Pinterest module

1 May 2012 - Pinterest and major third party image sites announce a new partnership between Pinterest and Flickr, Behance, Vimeo and YouTube to ensure all images sourced from these sites have copyright information detailed and proper attributions identified and embedded

Note: I'm not a lawyer and you should not rely on any assertions I make as legal advice. I'm just an ordinary artist and writer who is trying to make sense of the current furore over Pinterest and the infringement of copyright of various individuals including artists and photographers. What I'm doing is collecting and organising links to various relevant websites which seem to have some relevance to the issues which are being debated on the Internet.

Woe to you! You thieves and imitators of other people's labour and talents.

Beware of laying your audacious hand on this artwork.

— Albrecht Durer 1511


Ways to find your images on Pinterest or online

If you want to find which of your images have been pinned on Pinterest this is what you need to do

  • start with this URL
  • then add on to the end of it the URL of your site minus the http://
  • eg
  • put this search term into the top line of your browser and a page will be produced of all pins of images from your site

The pins identify who pinned the image and which of their boards is hosting it.

Otherwise try these services if you want to find your images online.

How to get your images removed from Pinterest - Most of mine were removed within 24 hours

I found that Pinterest had a lot of images on the site without my permission. This is what I did

  • I implemented the meta tag in Blogger (see module below)
  • changed my settings in Flickr so my images cannot be shared with Pinterest (see module below) and
  • served Pinterest with a site-wide takedown notices for six separate domain URLs.

Most of my images were off the site in minutes and they had all been removed within 24 hours.

The links below explain how to do what I did.

"Copies of content shared with others may remain even after you delete the content from your account."


Note: This only applies to people who have uploaded their images to Pinterest - and NOT to people who have had images pinned without their permission!

How to block Pinterest from pinning images from Blogs

This post provides specific instructions for how to install the meta tag on Blogger if you want to prevent your images being pinned

How to block Pinterest from pinning images from Flickr

You can change your site preferences on Flickr which will help to prevent your images on Flickr from being pinned

Tips and Tutorials on Watermarking Images

Watermarking photographs is one of the best ways of ensuring that copyright is asserted even when the image is taken without your permission


"We respect copyrights. You should, too."

What Pinterest now says!

(Terms of Service - explanation comment)

What Pinterest has to say (BEFORE the revision of the TOS) - the issue of your liability


[Note I'm limited as to how many links to Pinterest I can include so to view the issues raised you'll need to copy the links given]


View the new terms of service here (

View all links to relevant pages on Pinterest website and relevant comments from others here ( )

Subsequently - the company acted to remove from view all evidence of their admission that things were not as they should be.

You won't find any evidence on their blog of the turmoil which existed in Spring 2012 - or any of the posts they'd made earlier suggesting that better behaviour was required. However this website preserves the original location of those posts - for posterity!


Have you heard there's concern about Pinterest's Terms of Service (TOS)?

Maybe you're not too sure what all the fuss is about and/or whether you should be concerned?

It looks like Ben Silbermann - the founder of Pinterest is somewhat concerned - as he's DELETED all his boards! (see

Could it be that Ben has not been observing the terms of service and the requirements for all members to seek the permission of the copyright owner before posting an image to the site?

READ ON to find out

  • what the TOS says and
  • what it means for YOU if you're already a member

It's always worth paying close attention to the Terms of Service - when we sign up to any site - but people often skip that bit if they're keen to get an account set up and start using the service.

In the case of Pinterest

  • Most members seem to be completely unaware of what they have agreed.
  • Most don't have a clue what it says about their LIABILITY FOR COSTS AND DAMAGES in the event of a lawsuit.
  • Many members that have sat down and reread the TOS are now revising, editing and pruning their boards of all images which do not permit sharing.
  • PLUS None of us yet know what Pinterest will do to monetize the site (ie the content uploaded by members) but this will undoubtedly happen in due course - and what happens depends on what the TOS says


Pinterest states

"You will not remove, alter or obscure any copyright, trademark, service mark or other proprietary rights notices incorporated in or accompanying the Site, Application, Services or Site Content."

HOWEVER it's understood that Pinterest strips the meta data relating to copyright details from images uploaded to the site

Pinterest says

"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."

HOWEVER most people do not realise that this includes the word 'sell'

Pinterest says

"You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. Accordingly, 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, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.


You agree not to do any of the following: Post, upload, publish, submit, provide access to or transmit any Content that: (i) infringes, misappropriates or violates a third party's patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy;

HOWEVER most people do NOT understand that this means that they may ONLY upload images which are

  • either owned by the member
  • or the member has permission or a licence to use - and share


Pinterest says


You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms.

HOWEVER most people do not realise that in agreeing to become members they agreed to pay Pinterest's legal bills as well as their own in the event of any court case


We can assess Pinterest's concern to get things right by what it does and what it says. To date it has:

  • introduced a "meta tag" so that people can prevent images on their sites from being pinned.
  • responded promptly to takedown notices from the owners of copyrighted images - including my own where virtually all were removed within minutes of the service of a site-wide takedown notice for six domains

However it has

  • NOT changed its terms of services,
  • NOT developed a policy for repeat infringers and
  • NOT amended the confusing and contradictory messages on the site which suggest contributory (secondary indirect) infringement on their part and doubt over whether they will be able to argue that their site enjots "safe harbor" status

READ ON to find out what others have to say about Pinterest's behaviour to date

"You can't build a business on stolen content"

— Fine Art America

PINTEREST - NEW TERMS OF SERVICE - as from 6th April 2012

As a result of the very significant and serious concerns expressed by me and a very large number of other professional artists and photographers Pinterest has REVISED ITS TERMS OF SERVICE to address those concerns AS FROM 6TH APRIL 2012

This demonstrates that Pinterest has both recognised and is seeking to address the serious concerns that have been raised.

Subsequently - the TOS was further updated so it now has a 'plain English' commentary running alongside which explains - in much simpler terms - what each part of the TOS actually means

These changes will also help to protect Pinterest's business and assets from the invoices and legal notices which have doubtless been served on it.

You can contact Pinterest to tell them what is not working or is a problem - get in touch via

In addition, Pinterest has banned all content explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse


At the end of April 2012, Pinterest developed a new statement about how attribution needs to be recorded - see link below.

On 1 May, a new agreement with third party sources of images was announced which ensures that attribution is embedded into images pinned on Pinterest.

"An attribution statement will appear when a user pins from one of the following sources: Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Behance, 500px, Etsy, Kickstarter, SlideShare, and SoundCloud."

— HELP STATEMENT: Crediting pins on Pinterest Hagan April 30, 2012


Copyright and Design Rights - The Basics

Below you can find some links to the basics on copyright law and "fair use"

The section which follows deals specifically with "fair use"

The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know
The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know

Paperback: 440 pages

Publisher: Nolo; Eleventh Edition

September 7, 2011)


BOOK: THE Copyright Handbook - Stephen Fishman J.D. (Author)

AMAZON REVIEWS: 4.7 out of 5 stars (33 customer reviews) | Like (3)

This must have handbook for writers and artists provides every necessary form to protect written expression under U.S. and international copyright law. With stepbystep instructions, it illustrates how to:

* register a written work with the copyright office,

* determine what works can be protected,

* transfer copyright ownership,

* define and avoid infringement,

* maintain electronic publishing rights.

Fair Use

"Fair Use" defines how copyrighted material can be used without permission or licence from the rights holder for the purposes of commentary or criticism.

There is a notion that "fair use" covers the use of images on Pinterest

There are others who note that there is precious little commentary

"Fair use" is based on free speech rights provided by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. United States trademark law also incorporates a "fair use" defense.

The terms originated in the USA and the concept is sometimes referred to as "fair dealing" elsewhere.

Defined "fair uses" are strictly limited and are defined by four factors as follows:

1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

2. the nature of the copyrighted work;

3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Each of these factors need to be weighed in each case in order to determine whether a use qualifies as a fair use.

If the copyright holder disagrees with the "fair use" the matter may be resolved in court. There is a significant amount of case law which is relevant.

BELOW you can find expert comment from authoritative sources about what is "fair use" and how it can be measured.

Books about Fair Use - within the context of the creative world

Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright
Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright

Amazon reviews: 5.0 out of 5 stars (1 customer review) | Like (8)Reclaiming Fair Use begins by surveying the landscape of contemporary copyright law-and the dampening effect it can have on creativity-before laying out how the fair-use principle can be employed to avoid copyright violation. The authors develop best practice documents for fair use and discuss fair use in an international context.Appendices address common myths about fair use and provide a template for creating the reader's own best practices.

Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law
Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law

Amazon reviews: 4.9 out of 5 stars (7 customer reviews) | Like (5)Mazzone shows how growing abuse of intellectual property law has been abetted by confusion, unclear legal standards, outmoded law and economic bullying--and he illustrates the pervasive cost of these abuses. Finally, he introduces specific measures by which we can cure these problems. Erudite, surprising and accessible, Copyfraud and Other Abuses of Intellectual Property Law is a breakthrough title that will change forever how we look at creativity, law and commerce.


The Public Domain - what it really means - not what people think it means

There are a lot of people who don't know much about copyright and the law who think that everything on the Internet is in the public domain - because it's on the Internet

They are WRONG

This section covers what the public domain is

BOOKS: About The Public Domain - how to make sure you use the public domain without infringing copyright

The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More
The Public Domain: How to Find & Use Copyright-Free Writings, Music, Art & More

With The Public Domain, you'll get specific information about finding copyright-free writings, music, art, photography, software, maps, databases, videos, and more with this easy-to-read guide. Find out about:how to find public domain materialshow to determine whether materials are valuablehow to handle challenges to public domain claimspublic domain "gray areas"copyright protections and expirationsuse of public domain art or film for advertising or other commercial purposesweb content in the public domainhow to research copyright office recordshow to get permission to use work not in the public domain

Bound by Law?: Tales from the Public Domain, New Expanded Edition
Bound by Law?: Tales from the Public Domain, New Expanded Edition

Amazon reviews 4.1 out of 5 stars (8 customer reviews) | Like (1)Why do we have copyrights? What's "fair use"? Bound by Law? reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property, and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.


Derivative works - Derivative work does not enjoy copyright protection - unless the original artist/author says so

In summary - when you transfer a copyrighted work into a new medium you create a derivative work. For copyright protection to attach to a later, allegedly derivative work, it must display some originality of its own

Only the original copyright holder can authorise the creation of derivative works otherwise the new work does not enjoy copyright status

A derivative work is defined as follows according to the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, Section 101

"A 'derivative work' is a work based upon one or more pre-existing works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications, which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a 'derivative work"

Contributory Infringement - otherwise known as secondary or indirect infringement

Contributory infringement is what happens when the infringement is indirect or secondary to the primary infringement. This requires

(1) knowledge of the infringing activity and

(2) a material contribution -- actual assistance or inducement -- to the alleged piracy.

In the USA:

  • statute provides the parameters for indirect / secondary / contributory infringement in relation to patents and trademarks
  • case law rather than statute is currently deciding the scope of secondary infringement in relation to copyright - and in particular in relation to the role of IPs and account holders

Current court cases relate to those who have posted links to pirate sites knowing what their role to be

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act - and the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act

The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is the Act which, in the USA, relates to requirements to remove content from websites. The European Union has the Copyright Directive and the Electronic Commerce Directive.

The Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act seeks to limit the liability of online service providers (OSPs) for the stupid and criminal things which their users do from time to time.

However to enjoy that reduction in liability the OSP also has to follow certain rules.

The Online Service Provider (OSP - in this case Pinterest) must

"adopt and reasonably implement a policy"[2] of addressing and terminating accounts of users who are found to be "repeat infringers."

In other words unless Pinterest identifies and implements a policy of dealing with people who repeatedly commit copyright infringement, Pinterest may not enjoy the benefits of the "safe harbour" provisions.

Given the extent of repeat infringement of copyright by huge numbers of members it's probably safe to say Pinterest has NOT yet (as at March 2012) got on top of this side of things

BOOK: DMCA HANDBOOK for ISPs, Websites, Content Creators, & Copyright Owners - Author: Connie Mableson

This Handbook is for ISPs and Website owners who want to eliminate exposure for monetary damages as a result of being liable for contributory copyright infringement through the proper application of the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

It provides the relevant information ISPs and Websites need to take advantage of the DMCA - a law that immunizes ISPs and Website owners and qualifying service providers from monetary damages for copyright infringement.

This Handbook is also for Content Creators and Copyright Owners who want to know how to get infringing copies of their material or content taken down by ISPs and Websites.


The Issue of the Images - concerns over the protection for copyright

The terms of service (TOS) stipulate that all images which are uploaded to Pinterest MUST

  • either be owned by the person doing the uploading
  • or that the Pinterest member must have permission or a licence to post the image
  • if there is a court case the Pinterest member must pay Pinterest's legal costs as well as his or her own

Normally websites are protected by "safe harbor" laws. These ensure that the websites are not liable for copyright violations by their users. In order to preserve this legal shield, the site owners MUST

  • respond to take-down notices by copyright owners
  • ensure they are not directly controlling the infringement
  • ensure they do not profit from the infringement
  • have a policy which details what they do in relation to repeat infringers

Should a company fail to deliver the aspects assigned to a "safe harbor" entity, then this status will be forfeit.

It appears that the servers which host all the images on Pinterest belong to Amazon. Hence all the safe harbor provisions apply equally to Amazon - and Amazon has indicated a willingness to be served with DMCA notices

The Issue about Printing the Images

One of the aspects that causes people concern are the companies which are springing up to print Pinterest Boards and/or Pinned items. Particularly where this involves making money off artists' and photographers' images behind their backs and without their permission

This is what Pinterest has to say on the topic of printing Pinterest content

We have recently received a number of questions about whether we plan to sell printed boards and pins. Pinterest does not, and has no plans to, offer printing of content. Any service claiming to print Pinterest's content is not affiliated with Pinterest, and is in violation of our terms. Pinterest respects copyrights - if you have any additional questions, feel free to contact us.

Copyright protected images on Pinterest

check out the domain names with copyright protected images stored on Pinterest servers and published on the Pinterest website

Here's a couple of sites where I believe there are issues with the images being on Pinterest

  • Istock photos on Pinterest Istock is a stock photography website which generates its income for itself and the photographers by selling rights to use and publish photos
  • Lines and Colors images on Pinterest The very popular art and illustration blog of Charley Parker

What the Professional Bodies have to say

The Association of Photographers in the UK have their say below

What the Artists Bill of Rights people have to say

This includes posts from the organisations Artists Bill of Rights. This is their....

Advice to Pinterest Members

It's safer to avoid using Pinterest altogether, however, if you must use it, please accept our advice before copying anything to Pinterest -

  1. Always contact the copyright owner of the work before copying it to Pinterest, and,
  2. Tell the owner that Pinterest will remove their copyright notice metadata and reserves the right to sell the owners work, refer them to this series of articles, then -
  3. Do not copy unless you get written permission from the copyright owner. It must be in writing, failing to do this can have serious legal and financial consequences for you personally. Pinterest will not defend you, they have made sure in their terms of use that you, and you alone, will be solely responsible for breaking the law.

What the Copyright/Plagiarism people have to say - particularly in relation to photographs which normally attract a fee

What happens to those who plagiarise....

It may come as news to some Pinterest members that many of the stock photo companies - notably Getty images choose to send out demand notices demanding payment for use of an image rather than issuing takedown notices or cease and desist letters. Infringers may be told they have to pay as much as $1,000 or more per image.

If an image on Pinterest comes from a photographer who normally charges a fee for their work, Pinterest members could find they end up receiving invoices for the use of the image on the Pinterest site

What Making A Mark has to say

I've been following the debate about Pinterest and Copyright.


1) The owner professes not to know much about copyright and left it all to his lawyers

2) Pinterest has terms and conditions which say that you can't pin images unless you own them or you have permission to pin or a licence to use them.

3) The Pinterest system for uploading images when they are pinned does nothing to reinforce the conditions that members have agreed to. People are not asked to confirm they own the image or have permission to use it

4) Pinterest has NOT explained copyright anywhere on the site - except in legalese.

5) My guess is that a very high percentage (90%+) of the images on the site do not comply with the condition that members sign up for

6) Pinterest exempts itself from liability under safe harbour rules and that condition which members signed up to. It offloads all the liability and its legal costs to Pinterest members who have done something they shouldn't. Those members are liable for copyright infringement and the associated legal costs for themselves AND Pinterest - as per the membership agreement

7) The Pinterest business model assumes money is going to be made off the content which has been assembled by people who don't know too much about copyright or don't read terms and conditions too carefully.

7) People who create visual images and then sell them are bound to be upset (hence the recent viral storm re copyright and Pinterest) with this sort of approach to the "stock in trade". I am absolutely convinced that people will issue lawsuits over this. I rather suspect the photographers might organise to get a class action. We already know that many of the stock photography sites issue invoices rather than cease and desist letters to those who infringe copyright.

My personal view is that the situation is a complete mess and the TOS is a joke. I've got an account on there and I'm monitoring my domains. I think it has the potential to do well - but they need to change the terms and conditions and clean up their act.

What the Lawyers have to say

Note I am NOT a lawyer. If you need one you need to employ one for their professional advice. But go armed with a few references which can be found online!

The key issue seems to revolve around the discrepancy between what the terms and conditions say and the way in which Pinterest is allowing the site to operate. Thus members are required to own or have permission or a licence to post the image - however some estimates suggest virtually all the images fail this test

There is also at least one suggestion that Pinterest may find itself in trouble in court because its TOS could be used against the company to prove it is a website devoted to inducing, encouraging, facilitating, fostering … infringement! This is the contributory liability argument

The company does not have a policy for how it tackles people who infringe copyright again and again.

What Flickr has to say

Flickr has been identified as being the seventh most popular source of content on Pinterest. This is despite the fact that Flickr implemented Pinterest's do-not-pin code on pages with copyrighted or protected images.

On 1 May 2012, Flickr announced a new partnership with Pinterest to ensure that all Flickr photos pinned to Pinterest will be correctly attributed and linked back to Pinterest.

Flickr members have the option of refusing to allow sharing by Pinterest

There are a variety of views being expressed about the new arrangement and you can read these in the various articles listed under other headings for "who said what"

What the Tech Geeks have to say

For the most part, the geeks who write the tech sites are now pointing in the direction of the articles being written by the lawyers!

However they've also been highlighting the skimlinks aspect of the site - which effectively monetizes content without telling any of the members how it does so

What the social media marketers have to say

Most of the social media marketers are keen to show what Pinterest is and/or can do

Amy (first link below) reflects on the furore over copyright and provides a set of guidelines for how she is going to operate on Pinterest in future

What the Librarians have to say

The first article below thinks there's a fair amount of hysteria around. She thinks the issues raised though are not that different from those raised by a number of social sharing sites

What the Newspapers are saying

The newspapers by and large are looking at Pinterest from a macro level - as a new social media business and the monetisation aspects - rather than getting into the detail.

However some have picked up on the copyright concerns

What the Business Magazines are saying

Forbes Magazine has been giving a pretty high profile to Pinterest and the concerns raised over copyright

What Art Business People have to say

It's worth reading the comments on these interactive posts as well as the content of the posts

This comment by Fine Art America neatly sums up the situation with respect to the difference between Google Images and Pinterest

How is Pinterest different that Google Images? Good question. First of all, Google Images doesn't make copies of the images that they're showing you. When you do a Google Image search, you have to actually go to the photographer's website in order to view the image. The photographer's website registers the visit, and all of the potential benefits of the Google search go to the photographer. When you search for an image on Pinterest, however, you never have to leave Pinterest. The photographer's website never registers a visit, and the photographer loses out on the traffic and revenue potential. In fact, the photographer has no idea that the image search even occurred! Pinterest reaps 100% of the benefits.

Fine Art America: Pinterest - Enabling Copyright Theft on a Global Scale (for link see below)

What Art Bloggers have to say

Art bloggers have typically been enthusiastic to start with and are now becoming increasingly concerned. Here's a couple of posts which reflect this perspective.

Some have (previously) offered an alternative perspective

What the Photographers have to say

As you would expect, the photographers by and large are not happy bunnies. Pinterest strips the metadata from their photographs so if the link to their site is lost their images effectively become orphan works.

They've been fighting for their rights to be taken seriously for years and are now extremely well organised on the Internet.

These people make money from their pictures and they are going to be very serious about any copyright infringements perpetrated on Pinterest

They also have recommendations for how to place your images on the Internet in a way which says "these are mine/do not steal"

Flickr has introduced an opt-out meta tag for Pinterest - however this only affects photos that are non-public, non-safe, or have sharing disabled. This sharing also applies to ALL sites, not just Pinterest.


What Pinterest Needs To Do

Revise its terms of service and guidance to and prompts for members

Pinterest has the potential to do well - and will suit certain markets very well indeed. Here's what I'd like to see it do:


The TOS needs to reflect exactly the way the site SHOULD operate so that it complies with all relevant legislation and FTC rules.

Pinterest also needs to be mindful of contributory infringement. The TOS and Pinterest's suggestions about how people use the site should be in perfect agreement - there should be no contradictions or scope to confuse people

  • PROMPT PEOPLE BEFORE THEY PIN AN IMAGE to confirm that they have complied with the terms of the member agreement

For example Members could be required to tick a box to indicate how they obtained the image:

  1. I created the image and am the copyright owner;
  2. I have permission or a licence to use this image from the copyright owner;
  3. this image came from a page which invites me to pin it;
  4. this image comes from a page which allows this image to be shared (eg a retail site). I could see art ecommerce sites and/or galleries as having the status of being sites which are "approved" for the purposes of pinning.

Pinterest need to consider how it deals with matters and compensation related to pinned images that are already the subject of a contractual arrangement on another site (I'm thinking here of the images which relate to affiliate agreements for specific sites which are effectively being ripped to shreds by Pinterest members who pin images which they do not own and do not have permission to post!).


Changes introduced by Pinterest - after April 2012

Besides the changes to the terms and conditions highlighted in the introduction, Pinterest is developing further controls - listed below.

  • blocking - the abuse reporting mechanism now includes entire accounts rather than single photos or pins. This enables you to block another user which means they will be unable to follow your boards, as well as like, repin, or comment on each your pins.
  • reporting - you can report someone and specify whether they are spreading spam, nudity, graphic violence, hateful speech, promoting self-harm, or attacking a group or individual
  • website verification - makes it easier for users to find out more about who they are following.
  • secret boards - enables you to pin in private (and there are some pluses and minuses to this one)

However it still hasn't found a detectable way of making money from its 23 million users - so watch this space!


Why you should be very concerned if you have a Pinterest Account.

* Popular sites attract spam - and popular sites without good systems will soon be overrun by spam - as Pinterest is

* Fake accounts abound - and links to images are being changed to send people to the site of the spammer's choice

Pinterest on the Spam Problem

Friday 13th April 2012 (how ironic!), Pinterest acknowledged it has a spam problem.

Others had been advising it has a spam problem for some weeks.

As ever Pinterest is a bit slow to act.

Commentary on the Pinterest Spam Problem

From commenting on Pinterest as a home of people who steal other's people's content, commentators are now turning to commenting on the exploding problem of spam on Pinterest - and the ineffectual way Pinterest is tackling this.

  • there are a lot of fake accounts
  • spammers have taken up residence in large numbers
  • the URLs linked to specific images are being changed to a URL of the spammer's choice
  • the business of artists and crafts people are in jeopardy as their images are becoming associated with spam sites

Suddely the golden goose is looking rather tarnished

Pinterest For Dummies
Pinterest For Dummies

Paperback: 208 pagesPublisher: For Dummies; 1 edition (May 8, 2012)


BOOK: Pinterest For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)) - To be published May 2012

Let's hope that it deals with the copyright issues in an appropriate way!

 Last updated on September 20, 2014

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Comments and Feedback - Has this site helped you? 16 comments

doricdragons 6 weeks ago

Thank you so much for this, I just tried looking on Tineye and found someone is using an image from one if my paintings for the cover of a music track. I haven't checked out any of the other links yet, I am dreading what I may find!

KellyAnne4Peace 7 months ago

I am not having the same experience as you did at all with Pinterest. When I first contacted them, they did respond promptly and they took down all but one image. I let them know about it but there was no response. That was May 19th. I kept working on finding more of my images and when I sent the second batch, I included that image they left on their site. That was June 1st. I waited until the 3rd and when I still hadn't heard from them, I sent a duplicate. The first, on June 1st, was sent from my digital signature site. I sent the one on the 3rd from my email. No response.I read everything you wrote about what to write and I again sent them another duplicate list of copyright infringements, this time using much of your wording. That was about 15 hours ago and I still have no response from them at all.I've checked the email address I sent the messages to and it is correct, I did include all of the links on their site I could find for each of my images, as well as the page and image URL on my site. I sent all of the required contact information and included the two "legal" sentences they ask for. I have sent both digitally signed and a typed signature.I am at a loss as to why they are not responding at all to me.

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makingamark 9 months ago from London Hub Author

@delia-delia: Pinning is not the same as scrapping. If you pin a site the most that should appear on Pinterest is the intro image.Many thanks for the heads up. The offending site has now received a takedown notice from me. I also note that this site has been scraping quite a few sites of late.

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delia-delia 9 months ago Level 3 Commenter

I'm a bit confused...when you say they used your images, did you mean they pinned your lens or just an image? Since Squidoo allows pining of lenses there, not much we can do about it. I found one of my lenses screen shot and used in many pages on this site and several other sites....I also saw one of your lenses screen shot there

makingamark profile image

makingamark 2 years ago from London Hub Author

@anonymous: Thanks Leslie - I already have it listed in the section titled "What Art Business People have to say"

anonymous 2 years ago

Katherine...Here's another well thought out point of view about Pinterest from the owner of FineArtAmerica, Sean Broihier.

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makingamark 2 years ago from London Hub Author

@anonymous: I think you'll find that rather a lot of people had a problem with Pinterest irrespective of whatever Etsy got up to.It was always very clear that this was a business model which was going to be targeted at large retail sites - and that includes Etsy.

anonymous 2 years ago

None of this was even remotely an issue until Etsy raped Pinterest, and Pinterest developed Stockholm Syndrome, and let Etsy run rampant all over the old, better, rules of Pinterest.Now Pinterest just looks cheap and tacky, full of nothing but Etsy spam.Etsy ruins everything fun on the internet.

cmadden profile image

cmadden 2 years ago

This is a great lens and resource - and it helps to know I'm not the only one who is unPinterested.

Gypzeerose profile image

Gypzeerose 2 years ago Level 2 Commenter

Excellent lens - this is a lot of discussion in the Internet world about Pinterest - you helped a lot. Squidoo Angel Blessed and pinned to my board "Just for Squids and Internet Marketers."

KathyMcGraw2 profile image

KathyMcGraw2 2 years ago from California Level 2 Commenter

Your work on explaining Pineterest and all the copyright issues is so impressive. I learned a lot from some of your explanations, and I hope that more people read this and really understand the issues.

makingamark profile image

makingamark 2 years ago from London Hub Author

@Lee Hansen: Thanks PasticheIf Pinterest only did and behaved as it is supposed to work there wouldn't be a problem.

Lee Hansen profile image

Lee Hansen 2 years ago from Vermont Level 3 Commenter

I have conflicted feelings about Pinterest but can fully understand the issues and concerns. AJ and you have created a wealth of important information regarding the site and its issues with copyrights. I also find sites like ShareAPic troublesome ... they use a blanket "it must be your own work" statement to skirt copyrights but most of what's on there is just that: someone else's work.

LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

LouiseKirkpatrick 2 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

...and I've just headed here via a link from AJ's lens! Kudos to both of you for raising awareness of the pitfalls of Pinterest. This lens is an incredible resource that will be of enormous help to anyone who wants to really understand the implications of indiscrminate image sharing :)

makingamark profile image

makingamark 2 years ago from London Hub Author

@anonymous: Thanks AJ - I'm having a lot of success with people who've written to tell me they've had their images removed after following the process that I used

anonymous 2 years ago

Excellent resource for Artists and Writers wanting to protect themselves from Illicit Pinning on Pinterest. I too loathe the site and I have featured this page on my page about why I am not Pinterested!

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