Please do not pin my images to pinnerspest , sorry Pinterest!

please do not pin my imagesA new social media website is coming up. gathers people and invites them to pin from the net to their virtual pinboards what they like and what they want to share.
Yes, the net is for extroverts and this is their latest gimmick.

What’s wrong with that, spoil sport?

With each pin the members of Pinterest create a copy of the image they want to swallow, or should one say hijack, for their pleasure and interest to their board, hence the pinterest.

Unfortunately they not only create an image copy, they also create it under a different file name and store it as upload under different url on the Pinterest servers. Such manners are usually identified as the trademarks of ordinary image theft.

If members would read the Pinterest terms of service they would notice that as they pin they represent and warrant that they either are the sole and exclusive owner of all content that they make available or have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary.

How they get these rights and consents without asking the copyright owners for permissions remains a secret though.

Pinterest themselves are so free not only to impose all consequences of copyright infringements on their members but also to reserve the right to do with the uploaded i.e. pinned content what they wish. More precisely according to their terms members give 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, to Pinterest.

No wonder that visual artists, graphic designers and other image creators and copyright owners are delighted to hear that their rights and property can be transferred to a third party with a mouse click by Lizzy Miller who enthusiastically collects pretty images without further notice to them and free of charge (of course).

Sorry that is not fair. Let’s leave Lizzy Miller alone she is innocent, by saying that we can avoid the less favorable word ignorant. Instead let’s be grateful for the professional promotion that professional bloggers, preferably from the design and creative department of the net, sprinkle with these image copies generously over the net by re-blogging, at best on Google blogger, which again creates an independent image copy on Google servers, or by smart hotlink.

OK, the terrific backlink that is said to be the grand reward and prize of fame for those not asked about copyright at all gets pretty much useless as the original source in the most cases is not traceable at all from the start or lost after dozens or re-pins. But at least the bloggers can attract more viewers and traffic to increase their Adsense and other revenues. The image source until then is completely lost, the subject can be taken as orphaned image then i.e. free to be used by everybody, which is another great achievement.

OK the Pinterest TOS explain that their service is only for non-commercial and personal use, but who wants to bother with such trifles?

Some fools like me! They write protest mails to Pinterest and disturb their coloured world of lovely and inspirational prettiness.

As time goes by some others such known as lawyers will show up and have their say, hopefully.

Until then I kindly ask you dear readers : Please don’t pin my images. Thank you!

For those who like a less sarkastic take on the issue I commend Pinning Pinterest: Copyright protection for photographers by Tara Bradford

Update on 9.2.2012: There is evidence that Pinterest is making money from pinned affiliate links by changing the orginal link ino something else. Read more at Pinterest is quietly generating revenue by modifying user submitted pins on

8 replies zu “Please do not pin my images to pinnerspest , sorry Pinterest!”

  1. Rose

    Well said, Martin! I couldn’t agree more! I hope everyone reads this and pays attention!!!

  2. Liz

    Hi Martin! Thanks for this post and alerting us all the the problems with pinterest. I had no idea that the link to the original image was lost. The whole reason I joined was to provide a way I could visually bookmark things I want to go back to.
    What do you think about Tumblr?

  3. Martin

    Hi Liz,
    there are of course first-pins that contain the image source. But not many users care about that at all right from the start. The more re-pins the more difficult it gets to find the original source.
    What amazes me is that so many users seem not to be aware that they are in “publishing” on Pinterest. To pin an image is re-publishing it as a standalone copy on a public platform and that requires a look at the copyrights of the image owner just in the same way as you would do when you want to use that image on your website or weblog.

    I closed my account on tumblr because the weblog I had was collecting nasty spam followers. Tumblr functions very much the same way as pinterest. As tumblr is publishing it is necessary that the blogger has all the copyrights required.
    The material brought into tumblr becomes “their” property to some extent, especially you have to accept that other members can reblog the content on the platform. The tumblr TOS are almost identical word by word with the Pinterest TOS. Those paragraphs are almost the same on all those social media or crowd sourcing sites. Bad thing is once you have given them the material you cannot withdraw the transferred rights. You can close down your blog, but your images can still circulate.

    Pinterest is driven by commercial interest from my piont of view. Sooner or later they will monetize on their users, their data and the content that they have assembled.

  4. Liz

    thanks Martin – I am going to delete both of my accounts.
    I have been doing some research and pinboard with private boards ($10 fee) might be a good option. All I want is a neat way to store things to read later or come back to later. What really annoys me about pinterest is that it is all public.

  5. Martin

    Hi Liz,
    I totally agree, private pinboards are the option. I suppose you refer to the bookmarking service Sometimes I really regret that I cannot code because I do not think that it is rocket science to write such an application that creates pinboards on your harddisk or Iphone.

    Great Idea to do some research. Meantime I found, they have a free version that does most of what one can do with Pinterest. I forgot to mention (via Seth Godin blog)
    that might not be exactly what you are looking for. it is free and you can log in with a google account. The site allows you to create cards on a pinboard, you can attach images to the cards, but they will not be visible on the surface.
    You can share your cards(kind of to do lists) with others,keep them private or make them public. MAin purpose is working in groups.

  6. Caroline

    Thank you for this post. Its getting so one dare not publish anything of value online, unless it is watermarked with ” image stolen from xxxxx website” or “watermark removed only when you purchase the image from the artist” Its the only chance you have of getting your photos removed, and I suspect Pinterest would be happy to take them down on your behalf, unless they do not mind being called thieves very publicly.
    Legislation is never going to totally keep up with sites that steal; bad publicity and the sudden realisation that their greed is actually costing them money can force a change of policy, but in the end theft is theft and just because they say they own the data on their servers does not mean that they cannot be forced into giving it up. A website has to be registered and hosted within a legal jurisdiction, and this is where the laws, and legal action, will eventually bite, though probably not enough for us little guys.
    Until then a “stolen from ” watermark will hopefully keep the problem in the public’s face and stop some of them from preserving your work illegally.

  7. Claire

    I don’t see how you can stop it all happening – would you rather people take your work & save it privately on their computer? People will still keep taking others images without permission – you will never stop that, unless you keep your work off the internet. I think Pinterest is a great idea for inspiration & a better way of storing my bookmarks, as long as all pins direct straight back to the original owners of the images. I am slowly going through all my pins that I already repinned to make sure they all direct back to the very first/original source of the image. I would be more concerned about sites like Tumblr, imgfave, weheartit etc – they are the worst culprits of people posting others work without any original sources. Many blogs are also bad culprits at taking others work & posting without original source details. So, I think you should worry about those sites before you point the finger totally at Pinterest. If people credited you as the owner properly – wouldn’t you be happy you got more traffic to your website?

  8. Martin

    Hi Claire

    thank you for taking the time to express your opinion here.

    I am sure that many people download images privately on their computer, in fact that is the technical condition to view images on your computer screen.
    All images are stored in the browser cache at least for some time.
    Pinterest is not private it is publishing and that is the reason why so many people are interested in the service.

    Your argument about image theft on the net is the well known standard. I have met enough people who think that giving a backlink is a great honour and the image owner should not only forget her copyright but should also be grateful for the traffic.

    Unfortunately those sites which want to do us such generous favour are only interested to attract traffic to their little business by using other people’s work and effort for free and even without asking!

    Each time an image is pinned one uploads a copy of that image to Pinterest and thatone needs to have all copyrights and licenses for publishing the image on Pinterest. At the same time one grants Pinterest a license to use that image as they say per their TOS. Should I be grateful that someone snatches my images without asking and on top of that grants rights to use the image to a third party?.

    Pinterest is the first service that has based their business model on that sort of activity and if you look around on Pinterest you will see that it works in a bad way.

    I am writing for my little audience and that alone will not stop the activities on Pinterest. But I hope that my post will at least make a couple of people stop,read and think, just as I did and then the news will spread. There are enough other ways to keep track of interesting things on the net.
    It is not necessary to sacrifice the integrity of others for the sake of a pretty pinboard.

    All I want is to retain the full right over my images, they are my property and no one should think they are free to be used or pinned etc. without asking for permission. That is all I am asking.

    Even though I asked not to pin my images you pinned this blog post and a number of images from this weblog without permission. The formal DMCA to Pinterest is on the way.

    Added 2 hours later: infringing content is removed by Pinterest.

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