I’ve reached the moment when I cannot decide which end is up with Pinterest. I love what I share with my followers, and what they share with me. But I’m worried that I’m infringing on copyright with every pin I push. In a recent case of online copyright infringement, someone was ordered to pay $4000 for a stock image they mistakenly used.Adding up my pins using that random example, I would be able to buy all the baubles and gowns and settees I’ve pinned. And then some.

Take a moment to plug in the equation for your own pins.

It’s not pretty.

Lately I speak of Pinterest in earnest, hoping it will get better, as though it were a person in need of a support system to help it through a difficult time. But perhaps I’m just an enabler. I believed that the problems were about lack of respect on the part of pinners, and lack of work on the developers of the site to make it so easy to pull a tumblr. I love clicking on a pin of a brass étagère that takes me to a blog post that takes me to We Heart It and then a tumblr dead link at which point I begin wondering what on earth could possibly be worth this much time. And yet I keep trying. Trying to properly source stuff.

Oh, George Carlin, I hope you are laughing at me wherever you are.

Now back to the price of pinning. According to the Pinterest Terms, we all click and agree that:

“…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…”

Wait, what? Were these the terms when I joined? I don’t know.

A year ago, I thought pins fell under Fair Use, but now…I don’t know. Where’s the FAQ section for this? The Etiquette page says nothing about asking permission to post. (Though it does say original sources are “always preferable to a secondary source such as Google Image Search” – Really? )

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the rights, license, consent or release for 98% of what I’ve pinned, thinking that what I was doing was OK. I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, only I don’t know if I am and could use some clarification.

Pinterest tells us to pin with abandon but clearly states that they are not responsible if images that shouldn’t be there are. They simply provide the hypothetical push pins.


Anything on this blog is under a Creative Commons license to share, but I require people ask permission. It’s written just above the CC terms. I don’t have CC licenses on my other sites. Those are strictly All Rights Reserved. Do I mind that some of my images, from this site and others, are on Pinterest? Not as long as they link back to the original source. But, per Pinterest’s Terms, nothing of mine should be on Pinterest unless I gave someone permission, or I’ve done it myself. And that should only be done in small ways because we’re not supposed to use it for self-promotion.

Do not self promote.

Do not pin content that you don’t own the copyright of.

Am I drunk?

I need Pinterest to explain to me how it’s legal to be doing what we’re doing. Tell me what I need to take down and I will. Immediately. I need them to tell me because the legalese is not making any sense. And I usually don’t have a hard time with such things.

Pinterest, there isn’t enough cork in the world for all the boards you’re adding every day, and yet, if it’s a sea of copyright infringement you’re encouraging, even accidentally, I want to know. Let’s fix this.  xo a.

 Please read these thought provoking posts here, here, and here, and let’s talk about this. We need to talk about this. This has to be easier to figure out than where the smoke monster went when the island disappeared.

ADDENDUM: Between work deadlines today, I have been culling my boards and deleting. Not because I fear lawsuits, but because I have never in my career erred on the side of “this might be OK so I’ll do it.” I don’t know why I started now.

I recently designed cards for TYPE A that may have infringed on copyright by use of a line of a poem I thought was in the public domain. I spent a hundred dollars or so in printing and hours in design, photography and calligraphy – but I won’t sell them because I am not sure. I have a small business and to throw those cards in the recycling bin wasn’t  loss I wasn’t happy to have, but I would NEVER do something that I thought could possibly infringe on someone’s copyright. Why am I not applying these same principals by which I live my life to Pinterest? I am now feeling like an absolute hypocrite.

So, I’m going to delete a bunch of my boards. I’ll leave up a few things, things I know I have the right to have placed there. Which should be about a dozen pins out of 752.

I still will fight for this, but each time I get notification something of mine has been repinned, I feel nauseous. I don’t want to feel that way anymore.

For those who want to permit their work to be shared on Pinterest, I will be creating a badge you can add that tells the world. I’ll also be designing one that says the opposite. I’ll let you know as soon as they’re up.

Your two cents, please...