Guest Post: Why I’m Not Pinning on Pinterest

Thanks to Marna Becker, my first-ever social media marketing student (and good friend), for writing this post!  In the year and a half since taking my one-on-one online marketing course, Marna has brought her company, Israel Maven Tours, much business (read: they are seriously overbooked and are giving more great tours than ever before), and is a rising star in the social media field.

Marna Lew Becker from Israel Maven ToursI need to preface this post by saying that I am not a lawyer. I also do not play one on T.V.

I like Pinterest. It’s fun, it’s interesting and it gets the company I work for mentioned in blog posts like this one.

Every now and again, I even click through on Pinterest and see where those colorful, whimsical
photos of clothes, homes, and food originate. (I am starting to think that everyone on Pinterest
is a foodie or interior designer at heart!)

But the problem with Pinterest is that it is hurting artists and photographers. Intellectual
property rights are being sacrificed in the name of social media.

Before die-hard Pinterest fans send out a lynch mob, let me give you an example or two:

Until April 6, 2012, when these terms of service will be changing (this was just announced on
Pinterest’s blog on March 23, 2012– as I was in the middle of writing
this post) Cold Brew Labs, the folks that run Pinterest, can actually sell your work if you upload an original photo or image to Pinterest. The old text reads:

“ By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services,
you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs 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.”

The Pinterest terms of service (TOS) can be found here: and
it is listed under the “Legal & Copyright” tab when you log into Pinterest.

Um, what?! By pinning my photos to Pinterest I am giving Cold Brew Labs the right to use them any way they want until April 6? When something like this went down on Facebook, wasn’t everyone up in arms and changing their settings? Hello, why aren’t more people demanding this of Pinterest?

The truth is that most of us are not original authors or artists. We don’t think to look at Pinterest’s opt-out clause to make sure people can’t reproduce our work without our permission. It’s counterintuitive; isn’t that the point of social media?  Don’t we want people to repin our stuff to get it seen?

Enough kvetching, what can we do about this?

Pinterest gives everyone permission to use their site and your pins (!) For “personal
use” only. However, there is no way to keep another person from abusing this and
selling your original work – or someone else’s original work – illegally in the real world or in cyberspace. You can report abuse to Pinterest, but the only preventative medicine is to use
Pinterest’s “No-Pin” code found here if you do not want people pinning images from your
blog or website. If you are a photographer, an artist, or anyone who pins your original work
and wants people to respect your intellectual property rights, this may be the way to go.

If you do want to continue to use Pinterest, then do the following to protect yourself and the rights of others:

1. If you post someone else’s original work, get their permission before doing so.  At the very least, give them credit.

2. Only post your own work

3. If you hire someone to create an original photo, a work of art or writing for you, make sure
that you own the rights on that image before posting it anywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea behind Pinterest as I love all things social. I am excited to
see that Cold Brew Labs and Pinterest are already changing their policies based on the concerns
of people like me- their users. However, I am not interested in supporting a system that does
not protect the livelihood of our writers, our artists, and more importantly, our friends. Until
Pinterest becomes a safe-zone for intellectual property issues, I will probably be holding off from pinning for a while- unless I post my own work or that of my company. Oh, and don’t worry, it will have a watermark!

If you have any intellectual property issues or copyright questions, I suggest you contact a lawyer who specializes in this area. As mentioned earlier in this post, I am NOT a lawyer (though I was raised by one). The opinions here are my own.
Thank you to Jeffrey Lew, Esq., and my friends Myriam Miller, and Yosef from Voila Media for their advice and encouragement as I was preparing this post.

Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, Marna Becker now resides in Jerusalem. Marna works at Israel Maven Tours, where she manages both marketing and client relations efforts. Innovation has always been a major part of Marna’s life and she is always growing and learning. She was recently named to the Executive Committee of the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum (JBNF) which helps facilitate the growth of small businesses and promotes entrepreneurship in the greater Jerusalem area. 

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3 Responses to "Guest Post: Why I’m Not Pinning on Pinterest"

  1. naomielbinger says:

    Marna – this article raises some key issues…
    It seems to me that everyone has been breaching everyone else’s copyrights on the web for a loooooooong time, and Pinterest is just another way to do it! I’m not advocating that kind of thing. In fact, I’ve lately been working hard to eliminate this problem from my own sites.
    While we all have a responsibility to be careful of copyright violations, I also think it’s necessary for artist to place noticeable but unobtrusive copyright information on their images before publishing online. It’s true that anyone can crop that off, but that kind of slimy person is the minority. Most copyright violations online are “innocent,” people unthinkingly re-use copyrighted material.
    This would also solve the problem unattributed use.

    • Marna Becker says:

      Hi Naomi,

      Thanks for your comment. I am right there with you. I ALWAYS recommend using a watermark on all photos or images that will be published on a third-party site. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s a great way to protect this type of material. Yes, we do have lots of innocent folks who make a mistake. However, there are some of those “slimy” folks that you mentioned who are taking advantage and doing this knowingly. It’s not right either way, but we can prevent it, which is one of the key points here. I just hope getting this out “on the table” helps create awareness and encourages others to educate themselves on the topic.

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