Are We Pinning Yet?

a real-life pin board in my studio

Imagine you are in a lovely, airy, high-ceilinged room. The lighting is perfect, not too bright and not too dim. There are comfy places to sit: couches, chairs, plush and cushiony rugs underfoot, pillows to recline on. There is tea and coffee, sparkling water with lime, the occasional cocktail, and snacks of every kind for every want and every taste. Every available wall space is covered with a pinboard. Each pinboard has a name and a reason for being. And each board is filled with beauty and colour and words and stories. All the stories I’ve ever wanted to hear, all the stories I’ve ever wanted to tell.

Yes, that’s how I’ve felt about Pinterest. It’s been lovely, like a dream. Beautiful in its clarity and its immediacy. It’s been lovely like the first days and weeks of a new love. Everything looks brighter, and better. Senses are heightened and aware. Happiness is everywhere.

And then, well . . . and then, things go back to the everyday, and though there is still immeasurable beauty and love and happiness, there are also some disconcerting feelings beginning to form around the periphery of my vision. Feelings like: Is he really for me, are we as compatible as I thought we were last week? Is he who he said he was, because his walk and his talk are feeling just a little bit out of step.

I accepted an invite from Pinterest sometime in late 2010 and didn’t really do anything with it until well into 2011, and at that point I fell. And fell hard. A dream, a hope that I never knew I had, was being answered: a place that I could keep track of favourite artists, favourite words, colours, design ideas, and clothes, anything and everything on the internet that inspired, provoked, healed, blossomed, and cultivated a feeling inside of me.

Pinterest is a place that is so richly visual, and functions like my own brain does {in pictures!} — so much more beautiful and inspiring than ye old Bookmark list on Firefox.

I started compiling ideas for my studio, for future changes in our home, pieces by favourite artists and illustrators and designers and photographers, colour, pattern design, and on and on and on. After the first of this year I started sharing some of my favourite Pinterest finds once a week on my blog.

And all the while I was feeling less and less sure about what I was doing, and less and less sure that all this pinning was really and truly OK.

I told myself that it was okay because I only linked directly to the original site, AND I typed the artist’s name and/or credit in the description field. I told myself that because I whole-heartedly support Kal Barteski’s campaign to Link {and pin} with Love, that people would know that my motives were pure and I wasn’t looking to steal work or infringe on anyone’s copyright.

But the thing is, that once I pin something, I have no control over where it goes, no control over where and how someone else will re-pin, and no control over what Pinterest does with the image.

And the thing is that if you read Pinterest’s Terms of Use section, they have set it up so that they have no liability for copyright infringement, but we the pinners do {memories of Napster anyone?}.

If I had that airy, perfectly lit room, big enough to house all the pin boards with places to sit and look over what I had pinned, and gather and talk with friends about what was inspiring me today, I think I would still be as deeply in love with Pinterest as I was at the start.

But my boards are not set up in the privacy of my home, and they are visited by lots and lots of people that I don’t know, and I have pinned the work of other artists and writers and creators and not gotten their direct permission.

So, what to do with my Pinterest account?

One option is to keep my account but take down all the boards that show other artists’ work and thereby use Pinterest as a “shopping” board.

  • Pin only things found in online catalogues and sites that are selling their wares {because I’m hoping that places like West Elm aren’t going to mind that I pin one of their couches}.
  • Pin things that my friends are making (after asking them), and, of course, never pin anything that I make since that is not condoned {per Pinterest’s Pinning Etiquette}. Though come to think of it, that’s ironic since my stuff is really the only stuff that I have any legal rights to pin.

Or, keep my account as it is and:

  • Spend a fair amount of my time tracking down and contacting artists and artist representatives to see if they are OK with me pinning their stuff. And, honestly, given my lack of extra time, that is probably not going to happen.

Last option:

  • Delete my account altogether.

And that’s where I feel torn. I am still in love, and yet, my love is not feeling like all I’d hoped he’d be. If I take down all the inspiration, then that defeats the purpose of my account, ‘cuz really, do I want to spend time making visual shopping lists? It will lose its appeal pretty quickly.

Quite a few people have publicly discontinued their accounts with Pinterest, and some talk about their reasons why, and how they came to their decision.

People have written about copyright infringement and some deeper issues that involve easier ways to steal because Pinterest is storing full size images of everything that is pinned, on their servers. Full sized, not thumbnails.

I have also had conversations with friends who are coders and web developers and their stance is that the internet is all about open access, that if you put it up on the web it’s fair game, and that is one aspect of how the internet started.

So, how are you feeling about Pinterest?

Are you feeling that it’s fine and don’t think all the current hoopla is going to amount to much? Have you thought about what you’re pinning and where it’s sourced from? Have you had your work pinned and not credited to you, OR credited to someone else, OR printed from a pin and sold at a profit by someone else? I’d love to hear how you’re feeling about this one, because it affects all of us who have content on the internet these days.

40 thoughts on “Are We Pinning Yet?

  1. I’m getting more and more upset over this, and thinking about deleting my few boards.

    The thing is, this info needs to be spread to those who use pinterest – is there any article that the author has given permission to be pinned? I would like to share with my friends why I’m deleting my pins.

    I admit, I may still stay a member and watch other people’s pins for ideas, but I do not want to be personally or financially responsible for the fallout from it.

  2. You are allowed to pin stuff you’re proud of:

    “If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away”

    I do, I also pin quotes and funnies and other things. But I make sure the source I used is added. I can’t spend time digging through miles of image usage to find who made it first. Since most of what I pin has been made and remade a hundred times already. When I do pin artwork and similar things, I link to the artist.

  3. Oh Liz, I am also torn. I’ve been with Pinterest since it was in beta and I love my boards. I USE my boards. Frequently. And I spend a good deal of time tracking down the origins of my pins and I almost never reference Pinterest when I use a pinned image in my blog; I link directly to the original site. But I still feel that doubt. When will the other shoe drop?

    I also wonder if we’re jumping the gun. I’ve probably read a lot of the same articles and blog posts as you, but I haven’t found any news stories covering pinners, artists, or companies actually burned by the current situation. Did I miss them?

    I’m all for being proactive, but can you imagine how silly it would be if we had this much coverage of some of the “what ifs” that exist?

    So there’s a problem with Pinterest. What sort of solutions are being offered?

  4. Thanks for this. I have not joined pintrest yet and still haven’t really made my mind up about it. I have found a few of my images pinned on there, but all have been credited to me. There are good and bad things about pintrest (as you have spoke about so well). It all comes down to if the good outweighs the bad and how bad the bad really is.


  5. I still love Pinterest and still love it! I’m perfectly happy to see anything from my blog pinned. In fact, I made a “Pinning Welcome” badge to put on my sidebar.

    I agree with Janice that maybe we are jumping the gun a bit. I’ve heard things from Pinterest & Ben Silbermann that there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes (and I wish I could remember where I saw this, so I could link to it). I don’t believe Pinterest ever intended to be a big copyright stealing machine… I still have faith in them.

    That being said, I am leary of pinning anything from artists & photographers and I do make sure I pin from the original source.

  6. If pinned properly – using the pinterest bookmarklet, I don’t see why you can’t pin something without prior permission. When pinning this way – the image is linked to its source so there’s no problem finding where the image came from. And as Terri stated, even if I find something on pinterest that I link – I just click on it to go to the source and pin it from there, so credit goes where it’s due.

    I actually sent a complaint to another site I stumbled upon a couple days ago, because they had a ‘game’ with images of artisans’ work, but they images were not linked to anything – now that is just horrible.

    1. A lot of the issue is stemming from the size of the pinned image. Because Pinterest saves full-sized images there is less incentive for people to view the work on the actual artist’s site. Even worse, people are less likely to buy something when they can print a high quality image themselves.

  7. To make a long story short, I had a “friend” infringe on some of my work, and she was a good friend. Many people do not understand copyright infringement and see nothing wrong with using someone else ideas and art for their own financial gain. I think Pinterest is a wonderful idea, but I’m not participating until the concerns are addressed and resolved.


  8. I wondered about that very thing when I first got on Pinterest. I wondered whose work I was repinning, if others could take my photography and use it for their gain even if I had said it was copyrighted (I doubt they would, but still). I’m at that same cross-roads about whether to delete or rework. I hate this because I know my daughter found it and invited me and she loves it as others do. hmmmm??

  9. Thanks for this well-written post. I’m torn too!

    I had a long discussion with my boyfriend about it who is a programmer and subscribes to the view of your coder friends “that the internet is all about open access, that if you put it up on the web it’s fair game.” I have to say, that argument is pretty convincing. Are we going to attached Google Images next?

    But there must be a part of me still pretty unsettled and unsure, as I haven’t been using Pinterest nearly as much as I used to.

    I guess I’m holding tight, giving Pinterest the benefit of the doubt, hoping they will make some changes… or that it will simply not amount to anything and go away. In the very least, hopefully all this hooplah will bring some awareness to the importance of tracking down original sources and “linking with love”.

  10. I guess I’m playing the devil’s advocate, but over here we love pinterest. It’s been flattering to see our stuff pinned, and we’ve had fun following and engaging with other like-minded people. I’m sure we haven’t thought through all the what-ifs, but for now the benefits seem to outweigh the risks and we can always re-evaluate later.

  11. I only pin “free” patterns, I keep my information completely benign and I only share what I like. If anyone has put an image on the web, it is fair game to use. It is free advertising for those folks, I am not stealing anything but saving ideas and sharing my interests. If item is a link to buy something, I am not giving,using or stealing anything. The internet opens a whole can of worms….and I don’t feel guilty for using what is currently allowed.

  12. You have to be your own police on the internet and it’s hard. My photos are stolen all the time and end up on foreign wholesale sites as merchandise they’re selling. Although this is not from Pinterest, usually I find the issue to be from other sites I sell on. Point being if someone is going to copy or steal there are many other sites they can still do this from. At least Pinterest gives you a fighting chance of having your image link back to your site. I have to agree with your programmer friends if you’re online having your work stolen or copied is par for the course. It’s not right but it’s the price you pay for exposure.

  13. There is a code snippet anyone can add to their site to block the images from being pinned. If you run a site, and don’t want to participate, then use it. There are also scripts to keep people from downloading your images all together, and those have been around for awhile. Funny thing is, that has never really caught on. Even if you do that, there’s screen clipping, of course! That’s why web developers like me know there will never be a light at the end of the IP tunnel. If your images and ideas are online, others can choose to benefit from them freely, as you benefit from the images and ideas of others freely.

    Remember too that copyright applies to the images themselves, not the finished craft projects, recipes, or decorating ideas, etc. and pinning images almost certainly falls under fair use (you, the pinner, are not making commercial gain from or effecting the value of the image itself).

  14. Oh this is such a touchy subject! I am so torn. I join pinterest when it was in beta also and I fell in love, hard. After learning about Link with Love I have pinned mindfully but, I too worry about copyright infringement and I think you make an excellent point that even though you credit the artist doesn’t mean the next pinner will and you have no idea where that image you pinned will end up. I would feel awful if my work was reproduced and would feel doubly awful if I had a hand unknowingly in having someone else’s work infringed upon. I cleaned out many of my bookmarks and moved them to pinterest because it is so lovely to see them visually instead of in a text list. Your post has struck a cord and I am unsure how to proceed with my own account.

  15. Wow, Liz, ya just blew me away. I just deleted a couple boards and may get out of Pinterest altogether. I really just thought that by pinning the patterns and items for sale by fellow bead designers that I was giving them some exposure and free advertising, which I hoped led to some new sales and customers. I also had no idea that you weren’t supposed to promote your own work on Pinterest. That makes even less sense to me.

  16. I haven’t used the site for the exact reasons you state, but also my time factor. I would, however, like to get your opinion on whether the site works to help you have your dreams and ideas materialize as in the Law of Attraction. By pinning your ideal room, clothes, purchases, environment, prayers for a better world, etc., does the process and the review of your pin boards raise your thoughts enough that you have seen those things actually manifest in your life or is it still just a “wish list.”

  17. A couple of weeks ago I got an account, basically just as Pinterest was starting to get a ton of buzz.

    I’m going to be totally honest here and say that as someone in business/retail/wholesale, I love pinterest. I feel that it’s helped my items reach a design-loving audience who see value in independent design.

    As a creative, though, I don’t find it to be terribly inspiring. I like looking at pretty things as much as anyone else…but if I want to make truly unique work, then I have to do more looking within.

    I really appreciate those who have pinned my items, and love the vote of confidence – however, as a maker of items — it’s hard for me to fit the site into my mix.

    Great article – I’ll be interested to see what others have to say on the topic. Thanks! Susy

  18. I love pinterest, and I really think that we are jumping the gun with all this, so I suppose I’m in the “it’s fine and don’t think all the current hoopla is going to amount to much” group. It’s driving click throughs like crazy, and those I have talked to that create content that are photographers and artists have not seemed to mind and seem to be fans. I’ve found new blogs to follow, amazing recipes, and fantastic artwork (some of which I plan to purchase and use for an upcoming room remodel), so I don’t really understand how that is a bad thing for anyone.

  19. I agree with your torn sentiments, I love having a space with everything that inspires me. I feel that using it as inspiration should not upset anyone, as long as we are not downloading, printing and selling. I honestly will feel honored that someone took the time to look at my work, pinned it as a source of inspiration and created something from that inspiration (not an exact replica)
    The “fine print” is a little scary and does make me leery and like you do now have extra time to track people down for their permission so I too may go the catalog route (because hey we are giving them free advertising!)

  20. Liz: thank you for expressing all that I am thinking.

    I have had a pinterest account since the early days and was one of the 300 pinners involved with pin it forward on sfgirlbybay. I love pinterest for what it was meant to be: a virtual place to store your inspiration and a place to curate the inspiration you find on the internet. nothing more than that….

    I also support Link with Love and have from the beginning. I have read all the copyright infringement articles, all the comments on the pinterest blog and sit here today wondering what to do? I am an artist and photographer and have items pinned on pinterest. As far as stolen art and photos etc. unfortunately for all of us this will happen. I monitor as best I can through google alerts but this does not and will not deter someone if they choose to steal.

    Unfortunately, I do not have an answer. My pinning has been quiet the last several weeks but my boards exist and I will not remove them until I know for sure what the terms of use will be and how artists that have had their work stolen or improperly credited will be addressed.

    I have faith in Ben and Pinterest as I have since the beginning. I understand him to be a genuinely good person with a business that is growing so fast that it is difficult to address all things at once. I will watch and monitor everything closely and make a decision once something has been formally addressed by pinterest. Hopefully, the discussions and articles written in the last several weeks will prompt the changes that need to be made to the site and provide an inspirational place to go and build things that make you smile with full credit given to the artists behind what you are pinning with no concern of copyright infringement…

    (I probably live in a different world don’t I…)

  21. Thanks so much for this post! I’ve been thinking a lot about the issues around Pinterest and am glad to see so many people writing and commenting on them. And I’m only hopeful that the potential for Pinterest will expand and not be hampered by nefarious folks wanting to profit from other’s creativity.

  22. We are so hung up over “mine” – too hung up (except for photographers, I understand their case is special here,) I think. You can not sell what people don’t see. If you put your stuff in front of others, it will be seen, probably photographed (EVERYBODY has camera on phone,) and perhaps copied. It might also be loved, respected, collected. That’s the good and the bad of our time. I will continue to pin and credit the maker in my comments.

  23. You make so many great points here Liz! For me it came down to this… Pinterest is a for profit company. Therefore, they are making money off other people’s work, most times without those people having given their permission and often without knowing that their work has been pinned.

    Although Pinterest drives a huge amount of traffic to other people’s sites, artists are also losing revenue and traffic when their images are pinned improperly (this happens more often than not, I’ve found). The issue is not just a problem with Pinterest, because other social bookmarking sites are equally as culpable.

    The fact that Pinterest and all other social bookmarking sites have their asses covered in terms of copyright infringement means that they have questions about the ethics and legality of their sites. As a business model, I can see how it’s very profitable. But the fact that they let infringement rest solely on the user, in terms of a user/provider relationship, feels shady and untrustworthy.

    Pinterest exists in an ethical and legal grey area that speaks to a very potent question about art as commodity. Even those in the highest echelons of academia have trouble answering this question. As for me as an artist though, I’d rather respect the rights of other artists than make their decisions for them. So I’ve deleted all my boards.

    Pinterest is a great place for inspiration but not the only place.

  24. This is a really interesting issue. I have a Pinterest account but have not done any pinning because the crediting process is so vague. As a creater original art and design content I am torn between wanting the hit of praise and appreciation Pinterest offers and not wanting misrepresentation of my authorship to occur. I have followed several images through re-pinnnings and often by the third or fourth re-pin the link goes to the site the image was pulled from and not the original source.
    I agree with the idea stated in the post that pinning from on-line retailers for style reference seems like a good plan.
    For me – artistic inspiration is not shopping and is a personal and private matter when it comes to art making. I don’t think of it as sharing recipes or fabric swatches but as something deeper that is not really relevant to the final work.
    I expect this will remain a conundrum for a while because I sure do love to spin through those pin boards…

  25. hmmm. I photograph, design, and also sell handmade items on etsy. As a graphic designer, I know no web quality image is going to be able to be printed professionally and look good. There is a huge difference between 72 dpi and 300 dpi. As a photographer, I only post images in the creative commons no larger than 600 pixels, which is fine for someone on their home printer, but crappy for anything else. Anything of mine that is not labeled as creative commons is only available in even smaller sizes, if at all. So if you are an artist or photographer and are posting huge, hi-res, original images on the internet that someone can easily copy and distribute, PLEASE become more informed and learn to protect yourself through smaller images, watermarks, flash portfolios (harder to download), or code, as someone else mentioned.

    So, back to that web-quality image….it will not stop all copyright infringement (someone sees your idea, redoes it, and sells it as their own). Unfortunately, that is the nature of the internet and the risk we all take as makers when we put something of ours out into the world. It has been happening since art began, but the nature of infringement and ignorance of copyright has accelerated during the age of the internet. (I don’t agree with some who say that if it is on the internet, it is a free-for-all. PLEASE, that thinking is pure laziness. Anything original that is “published” on the internet is now copyrightable by the artist, whether they state it or not. Become familiar with the law.)

    As someone who sells on etsy, I love to see traffic that has been directed to my shop because someone fell in love with it on pinterest. I’d love to see even more!

    I’m aware that images of mine may be floating around the www without proper link-back or attribution. Not much I can do about it—I’d rather spend my time producing more art. Nothing is as good as the original, but maybe my originals will inspire someone else. At first, they may try and copy what they see (as many famous artists have done for generations), but eventually I hope that it evolves into something uniquely their own.

    That is why most of us rip photos out of magazines or bookmark websites, or pin an image to pinterest….it is not with malicious intent, but an effort to gather disparate images together in one place so that they in turn may inspire us by their unique grouping.

    I love the Pin It bookmarklet that stores the original link information. If people use that, but do not also add my name to the pin, then I say good enough. I’d love it if Pinterest let pinners “tag” an image through more than just the comment area (more like evernote, which I love).

    Pinterest is definitely not perfect, and I’m wary of the legal-ease that they have slipped into their terms of service. As others have said, I guess only time will tell whether it results in bad vibes from artists or photographers.

    1. Great response Jenni :)

      I’m also a photographer. I used to be very wary of having my images used without permission. I still am, but now accept that nothing online is safe. I deter the best I can (small images, watermarks, metadata, captions) now and hope it’s enough to encourage people to seek my own places on the internet. Maybe even buy something.

      I do wish it was easier to search for things pinned from individual etsy shops. I often have items pinned and would like to thank the people that like my stuff and see if I like the other things they pin.


  26. Thank you so much for linking my piece.

    I want to see Pinterest make changes, make it work, be upfront, and educate pinners so that the positives of the site make it a tool everyone can enjoy. I’m reworking my boards so that they fall within the TOS and if I can’t make it work w certainty, I will move on. Because frankly, we can live without Pinterest.

    Until then, I hope pinners are following the TOS very carefully. They can no longer say they aren’t aware of the repercussions of their actions.

  27. Thank you for your post!
    It took me a while to sign up for Pinterest because I did not like it that they wanted me to use my facebook account. I found out later that I could get it without having them access to all my facebook data.
    Anyway, once on, I loved it! What a great way to collect ideas and inspirations, eye candy !
    After reading about all the issues with copyright and Pinterest selling images and such, I deleted my account!!
    I still go on and look and now have links to blogs in separate folders stored on my computer,it’s just not a visual collection anymore…. Really too bad , but at this time I just don’t want to take part in pinning when the legal waters are still muddy. Maybe I get back to it in the future, but for now I just watch from the fence without taking part.

  28. i recently wrote a post about this as well. as a maker, I feel stuck in an impossible situation. in my gut, I have icky feelings about all pinterest has stirred up. I went to art school and work as a graphic designer aside from my craft biz and with those two things in my life, it is drilled into your head that peoples work going uncredited or being stolen is wrong, plain and simple. but, if I delete my pins and don’t allow pics to be pinned, then I feel like my biz will fall behind. I fell like I have to go along with the crowd and allow the misrepresentations of my work because everyone else is doing it.

    it seems so simple to me, but I feel like one easy fix would be to not allow repinning. if you like an image I think you should have to click back to the source and pin it yourself. it wouldn’t take much more time, but would give us, the makers, the exposure we are due.

  29. Here’s my angle: Pinterest fills the space that magazines used to. We look at pictures, skim, read further if something grabs our attention.

    I write for magazines. My photos have been published. (I make a pittance, so I’m not in it for the money.) My poetry — a labor of love — has been published in literary magazines for which I am paid in copies. I don’t get extra money every time the article is read, or when someone paints my poem on a wall.

    I put it out there, because ideas are just ideas, and images are a blink. If somebody, somewhere finds my idea useful, then we’ve connected in a useful, human, friendly way.

    Seriously, I should own the copyright to my recipe for rhubarb pie? Get paid for my how-to-build-a-clay-pizza-oven pix? I should care if somebody likes my art and repins it ad infinitum? I’m not on pinterest to sell stuff, mine or anyone else’s. Personally, I skip the stuff being marketed at me, most of the time. Pinterest is more than another way to pimp your wares.

    Copyright issues: how can someone “steal” what is given freely? If it is posted on the internet, then it has been given to the world. We live in the age of information. The notion that we should clutch our art, ideas, images to our breasts and guard them, own them, sell them for money, is fading quickly. There is very little that has never been done before. We shouldn’t overestimate the genius and value of even our best art/words/images.

    When I sell a piece of my artwork, it’s signed with a barely intelligible stamp of my first name only. Once it leaves my studio, if it’s given as a gift, handed on, sold for pennies at a yard sale or hundreds at a gallery, that’s none of my business. If photos of my work float around the net unattributed… well, OK. At least somebody likes my work.

    It’s not like we’re pinning nuclear weapon blueprints or classified secret documents. The painting I found on line and made into my laptop’s wallpaper is still a painting somewhere, which the artist will sell for money. So what did I steal?

    If I am missing something — and I must be — please explain. How can pinterest be abused, or images there be misappropriated? I have an open mind and if people are closing accounts, there clearly must be some issue I am not seeing, here.

  30. Hey there!

    Besides reading the article by Liz, I also read most of the comments you wrote in here so far. And there are valid points on both parts.

    I’m not an artisan or a seller of anything of my own authorship just yet, but I do use internet in a bunch of ways and more than that I have some direct contact with the patents world for my hubbie works on that.

    The thing is, and informatics or code creators got it right, once you put in on to the web, it’s fair game. I’d go even further, once you put a product, an idea, a design, a text, anything at all out in the open no matter how, it’s not yours anymore. You’re the author, but it becomes open to every single person who gets in contact with it. And since the beginning of times that artists know that. You can read it in a bunch of texts from different writters too.

    But there are some things you can try and do to protect your authorship. Patents are one example, although not everything might be protected by a patent. Registration and indexation on local or international entities for purpose of copyright protection is another. But then again, it’s kind of tricky to catch people who copy it unless they get to be big enough to be known by a wide range of people. And to prossecute them takes a lot of time and money, even with the law on your side…

    On the web there are also a few steps one can take to protect their creations. They might not help for 100% of the times, but they do help.

    For instance, when it comes to your reveal of your own work, you can control how you want to reveal it including, when it comes to the pictures, the quality and resolution they appear on. Yes, I know that better pictures are more attractive and you do need to take that in to consideration, nevertheless, and mainly when we’re talking about photos and prints, you don’t want people to be able to download it for free if you’re selling it, so don’t present them in big sizes nor in the best possible quality/resolution. Make people have to contact you to get it, no matter where they saw it. Watermarks and codes to impeed download also help on these cases. If its an idea or a recipe or something like that we’re talking about, remember you’re the one in control of how much you want to reveal!

    But of course you all know this already by heart… The big problem is when others share your work without permission. Well, that would happen the same way if there was no internet, perhaps on a smaller scale, but it would. And aren’t you the first ones to promote the “spread the word” philosophy with newsletters, links, follow me, adds, and all? So in that same sense, it gets kind of uncontrollable to know exactly how many people and who knows and shares your work. So you can look at it one of two ways when people copy it or try and get credit for it:
    Negative – “Oh my, they’re stealing from me!”
    Positive – “Way to go! I did such a good work people are even following my steps!”

    The fact is, look around, look at the big brands. They were copied. It’s a competitive world, and that will happen. But that can also make you want to fight harder for your spot under the light and be bolder and better in your art. Some will make it, some won’t, but the fight makes you stronger.

    I have a blog ( where I share stuff of my own and many pics from many different authors. I know ettiquete would require me to ask them all for permission before doing so, but I don’t. I do not intend to steal from anyone, but to share inspiring pics related to my posts (or patches as I call them) and that’s just it. And I try and id the right authorship to every single pic I put in there, unfortunatelly it isn’t always possible. For all of this, I have a note on the blog stating that if anyone feels prejudiced by this all they need to do is contact me saying so and identifying the image so I can remove it or id it, depending on what the author requests.

    I also have a Pinterest account and, my oh my, is it full of different pins! Once again, it’s not my intention to steal from anyone, but to collect things I like and find inspiring on my several boards. Some come from web pages I visit and when I pin them I id them properly. Some are pinned from other pinners and if I find the proper author, I id them, if not, I let them be and hope for no one to be bothered by that. If any pic I have there has the wrong authorship announced, I beg your pardon, it probably was identified as such before I pinned it. But I can change it, all it takes is the right information!

    Ettiquete is perceived in different ways by different people. Right and wrong are as well. And as much as one tries, it’s hard to change that. So all you can do is decide wether or not to create and share stuff, for once you do share all you can do is hope people give it the proper use and respect.

    Truth is the world is getting richer and people are sharing ever more stuff, whatever it might be. And it ain’t all bad! I bet many of you have been lucky to get new costumers due to Pinterest and other social networks of content sharing. But if you find that that brings more troube than good, then its up to us, as users, to pressure the creators of those networks to change their policies, as it is going on with facebook.

  31. As a product designer who has been creating “inspiration boards” since way back in the 1990s, I think Pinterest has actually IMPROVED the way we credit sources.

    1990-2005, we pulled images, no credit given and pasted them to poster board. 2005-2010 we pulled online images and built boards in Photoshop.

    At least with Pinterest there is a trail back to where it was originally pinned. Yes, you can argue about if that source is the best, or most accurate but why?

    I think as designers & artists our job is to soak in the rich visual tapestry the world provides and distill it into our own original point of view. The only real way to find success is by moving ahead of the curve and reinventing along the way. Our most fleeting resource is time and if Pinterest makes art flow through inspiration, you had better use it.

    I for one am not going to get in a dither about what other people are doing. I’m behaving. And for those who are not… Karma baby!

  32. Thanks for all the comments on this one, some really good points, and some new thoughts, and an all around diverse discussion. I’m really interested in following up in the near future with more thoughts on this based on some of your comments. Love this Scoutie Girl community . . .

  33. I have been wishing to read this post after reading a lawyer/photographers and pinterest user’s article just last night.

    She ended up taking her board down after falling in love with pinterest, as so many of us ‘visualists’ have, as well as anyone else – in fact, the site itself has grown exponentially in one year with a huge number a new users every day – so now what?!

    This lawyer serious read all the terms and regulations, and what frightened her and then me me most was there is a line in their rules, that relates that if we are the first pinner of an item, we personally can be held completely and financially liable without the artist/image – what have you’s absolute consent for pinning their item….

    I have had my own images stolen and used on public CITY sites even, well – and without any credit nor even asking me permission – I dont know whats worse…

    Im am torn, part of me simply withes to drop pinterest all together – as it reminds me of a large recipe site I used to belong to, until I read in its rules any recipe that is posted (including your grandma’s special secret pound cake) immediately becomes copyrighted and owned by that recipe site…so frankly you cannot publish it in your own cookbook for example –

    Hopefully a easy solution comes quickly before things get wacky!

  34. I’ve decided that, since most of my pinnings are from blogs featuring crafts and recipes, pinning them is probably okay. It seems to me that those folks would appreciate the advertisement.

    I can see where pinning original photographs (in particular) might get messy, so I’ll choose not to pin them (now I’ll have to go back and make sure there aren’t any on my boards).

    My boards are for me…not for others to follow or pin from. They exist as a means for me to track fun, interesting things that I have found on the web, again, as my own personal reminder.

    Maybe boards shouldn’t be public?

  35. I’m starting to feel that I want to write a blog post entitled “Why I won’t delete my Pinterest boards”. The problems with Pinterest don’t seem to me to be specific to Pinterest; people can steal images and ideas from anywhere online, and they do.

    I post images online knowing that they could be used without my permission, and I only give away as much as I feel comfortable with. The big beautiful pictures in my Etsy store can be taken from Etsy as easily as from Pinterest.

    At the same time, I don’t know what to make of Pinterest’s TOS that state that the original pinner must own copyright or have permission to post the image. It seems to go against the intentions of the site. I’d really like a clear explanation of what it means in practice.

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