Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Pinterest Trap

***First let me start by saying that I am not a lawyer and in no way is this post intended to be legal advice. This is only information that I have dug up on the matter and not intended to be used in such a manner.  If you need legal advice on using Pinterest you need to consult with a lawyer.

I love Pinterest and when I started out on that site I immediately added the "pin it" button to my browser and started pinning things. It was the newest, best thing for writers. We could create boards and pin pictures to show others what we had in mind while writing a books. That has since changed, at least for me it has. It seems Pinterest is more of a trap. A legal trap to be exact.


Unless you are the owner of a picture or have permission from the owner, you may not pin it. Plain and simple and it is stated right in their terms of service. I also found this great article that really explains the risks. Although, the article was published before the latest terms of service went into effect, and clearly state that you still retain your ownership of your own photos that you upload to the site. That's one thing that has changed for the better and will allow more photographers to be inclined to upload their own photos and share them with others.

After reading the terms of service I was under the impression that you could only upload images that were your own, otherwise you are infringing on copyrights. Fine, I get that and understand that concept. And, according to the terms once you pin one of your pictures you acknowledge that others can re-pin it to their boards. However, after reading this particular article I'm not so sure re-pinning is safe in most circumstances. According to the article, re-pinning is not even safe. In fact, they claim the only safe way to use the site is by pinning your own photos.

Are you as weary as I am to use Pinterest again?

Even Forbes and The Wall Street Journal have weighed in on the legal risks involved. You really should read both articles for an eye opening understanding of how Pinterest works.

I'm tempted to start going through my pins, going to the site the picture/craft is on, and bookmarking them through Delicious instead. Seems like a safer bet to me.

And I wonder what the point of having a Pinterest site even is if you can't repin anything? I follow a few authors who use the site on a very regular basis, pinning everything that interests them. I wonder sometimes when I see those pins if they have asked for permission from the photographer to pin it, or even know that they need permission. It's definitely something to pay attention to and watch out with. 

What are your thoughts on using Pinterest?


  1. That's why I've been hesitant. Most pictures I'd want to pin would probably be an infringement. Especially after the lawsuit brought against Roni Loren for the misuse of pictures on her blog. It's a real issue and it's unfair to the photographers and artists who created the photos/art too.

    1. Exactly! I've already deleted several of my boards and I still have to go through and clean out the rest. I do follow some places that put up their own pictures, for people to pin, so I might not delete those. Not sure yet. It is definitely scary, though.