Pinterest Hot Topics & Copyright Infringement
The Scarlet Letter P for Pinterest

An Opinion about Pinterest - "What’s Yours Is Mine"?

Much discussion is going on about Pinterest. The opinions are widely mixed. While Pinterest is a delightfully engaging website, I am very concerned about a number of surrounding issues. These include but are not limited to:

  • The fine print on indemnity under Terms of Use regarding copyright and permission to post images;
  • The apparent disregard by pinners in failing to include the artist's name, complete description, photo credit, and most importantly, a link to the original source.
  • Persistently closed eyes for "ownership" of the images, and more.

My practical advice is highlighted in beige (below). IF you want more background about the Pinterest controversy, keep reading.

I think everyone should consider an account with our without pinning. Do not delete your account.
Advice from Tom McCarthy on Crafthaus is well reasoned. He says: "I made a mistake when I deleted my Pinterest account.  I will be rejoining.  Not to re-establish my boards, I still don't want to pin.  But having an account will allow me to correct any misinformation on pins of my work to a limited extent.  Without an account, I can view the activity but not comment on it.  I'm not advocating hiding from the issue in my studio.  I just don't want to invest my time in their game.  Member complaints will probably also mean more to Pinterest than "outside agitators."

Here is a brief summary of the issues with Pinterest.
With Pinterest,
anyone can copy, pin, repin, anyone’s images without skill, without the title of the work nor artist's name, no description, and sometimes without a link back to the original source. It is soooo easy.

While posting images was possible before on other social networking sites, it was not the primary activity. The difference is that the "pinners" now have a highly visible place to put the "pinned" images on their PinBoard.

Pinners feel that their pinboards are an act of creativity, organization, or identity for the pinner. The images are a reflection of their tastes. The pinner is now a “collector.” A collector of images, but a collector all the same. They can create an identity for themselves online through other people’s creativity, design, or artistic expression.

While most of the pinned images in the past were consumer items and recipes, the dynamic of posting images of photography, art, and craft is growing quickly as artists and makers seek visibility and links to their website or Etsy shop.

There is a discussion on Facebook Critical Craft Forum with over 59 comments. Read it and see what you think! It started with a link to a post by 2Roses on Crafthaus titled, Standing at the crossroads of 'What’s yours is mine'.

John Roses says:
Data – your data – is the currency of the 21st century. Billions of dollars are spent collecting it, and multi-billions are made selling it.  Who controls information about you, and who can profit from it is the new Wild West. This also has far-reaching ramifications for artists and makers, specifically on the issue of control and right to compensation for the use of images of your work.

There has been a lot of talk about Pinterest of late. It is the newest shiny bauble on the social networking scene. Artists (some, anyway) love Pinterest because it seems to shower free attention on a lucky maker. We love free and we love attention. But nothing is really free and some of the more astute makers are already saying “Wait a minute… what’s that tucked down there in all that legal terms and conditions."

I recommend that you read the entire article.

Harriete continues with her concerns...

The Terms of Use on Pinterest are very confusing. 

I am looking for practical solutions for artists and makers. Here are two issues that need to be addressed by Pinterest.

Above is an image of Pin Etiquette #2 and #3

Pin Etiquette #2 says:
"Credit Your Sources
Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source. If you notice that a pin is not sourced correctly, leave a comment so the original pinner can update the source. Finding the original source is always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search or a blog entry."

Right now the Pinterest Pinboards are sloppy at best. It is objectionable that many images are not linked back to the original source, but go to an empty Google search page.

Pin Etiquette #3 says:
"Avoid Self Promotion

Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion."

The reality is that the makers of art or craft or photos own the images.  So either I break the law through copyright infringement when I post other people's art or craft (read the Pinterest Copyright & Terms of Use), or I need to ask permission for every image posted (recommended), or I break the Pinterest code of etiquette and only post my own work. 

Etiquette only amounts to standards or protocols established by your community. Manners and etiquette are established and generally followed, or the person is ostracized by the community.

Pinterest should find a way to enforce compliance through their website or rewrite their Copyright Terms of Use (in plain English) so every user understands the implication of their actions.

Have you pinned other artists or makers without complete information?
Did you ask if you could pin their work?
Did you take the image from the original source or a Google search?

Are you part of the problem or the solution to better practices on Pinterest?


Dupin Harriete

How about this for a pin?

This post was updated on March 11, 2022.