Pinterest: Recommendation and Warning

Pinterest:  Recommendation and Warning

The social media site has been getting a lot of press in recent days because, according to some reports, at the moment it is the fastest growing social media site.

I joined the site after reading about how Pinterest could be good for authors, business people, etc.  And since then I have been following the news, the recommendations and the warnings about Pinterest.

I’d like to provide a primer here with the disclaimer that I am NOT a lawyer.

How Pinterest works:

On Pinterest you set up a free account and then you can create “pins” (photos) that link back to where you pinned the photo from and allow you to add a short description.

For example, I have a website that has a page about my upcoming ebook “How to Succeed in High School and Prep for College.”  After putting the “Pin It” function on my toolbar’s “bookmarks,” I can go to that website page, click on the “Pin It” icon, chose which photo of the photos that automatically appear I want to pin, and click on that photo.

Then I can write the short description and even add a hot link in the description box along with the automatic link back to the website page from which I pinned the photo.

I then get to choose to which of my already created boards (or I can create a new board) do I want to add this pin.  (Think of boards as themed bulletin boards.)

What is in Pinterest for artists?

Especially if you choose eye-catching photos, you can encourage people to go from a picture of yours that they like back to the source of that picture, which could even be your DVD’s page on Amazon.

And you can get truly creative with the boards you set up – naming these boards what you think will attract people.

The risks:

Copyright infringement in a big way.

First, let’s assume you do not pin any photos to which you do not have the right to use.  But someone else who repins your pin may not have the right to the photos you pinned.

In fact, what if the photos are your original art and you do not want these photos to be repinned (the process by which people add your pins to their boards)?

And, second, what if you pin photos you like from all over the web – or repin photos from all over the web – without getting permission of the owners of the photos?  Do you have the right to do this?

Bloggers have been discussing how in these cases you might be liable for copyright infringement if you have not gotten permission to do this.  (Note the word “might” because a lot of copyright rules for online material have not yet been set in stone.)

According to various blog posts, the terms of Pinterest put the onus on the pinner for any copyright violations.

What should you do?

If you decide you want to take advantage of the opportunities on Pinterest to make connections via photos, decide on your own policies to avoid copyright infringement.

I only pin the photos I own, the photos I have bought from istock to use on my own blog posts, and the photos used with guest posts of mine on other blogs.  (I do hope the blog owners have the right to use those photos.)

I am NOT planning to repin anyone because of copyright concerns, which as an author I am very sensitive to regardless of a site’s policy on copyright.

Bottom line?

Remember I am NOT a lawyer.  It seems to me, though, that if you join Pinterest, you must use common sense when it comes to copyright considerations.  And you must keep these considerations in mind at all times.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and @ZimblerMiller on Pinterest) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the marketing consulting company, which is now WBENC certified and helps clients effectively use social media and other online marketing strategies.   Check out Phyllis’ books and other projects at




Posted by on March 8, 2012. Filed under Phyllis Zimbler Miller,Social Media,Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to Pinterest: Recommendation and Warning

  1. Cindy Sprigg

    March 9, 2012 at 1:30 am

    I have only found Pinterest recently and via this site and as an Author, I am also very much aware of copyright laws. This is why on my Facebook page, my website and on my new Pineterest board, I have included the following:

    *******PRIVACY NOTICE*******
    Warning–any person and/or institution and/or Agent and/or Agency of any individual, organization or governmental structure (including but not limited to the Canadian Federal Government) also using or monitoring/using this website or any of its associated websites, you do NOT have my permission to utilize any of my profile information nor any of the content contained herein including, but not limited to, my writing, my photos, and/ or the comments made about my photo’s or any other “picture” art posted herein. You are hereby notified that you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, disseminating, or taking any other action against me with regard to this profile and the contents herein. The foregoing prohibitions also apply to your employee(s), agent(s), student(s) or any personnel under your direction or control. The contents of this profile are private and legally privileged and confidential information, and the violation of my personal privacy is punishable by law.

  2. Aggie Villanueva

    March 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

    I’m confused. Isn’t the purpose of social media to get as many as possible to retweet, pin etc.?

  3. Janet Green

    March 19, 2012 at 4:30 am

    Social media changes the game, folks. If you want to play, you’ve got to expect some loss of control. If I saw a NOTICE that told me I couldn’t share anything without a hassle you have posted or written, then I probably would stop reading.

    • Michele Jennae

      July 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm

      I agree with you Janet. The more hassle there is for the audience, the less they will engage.

  4. Deneen Konstantinidi

    June 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm

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  5. Joe Hefferon

    July 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Wow, the copyright thing is scary. I’d be willing to bet many Pinterest users have no clue they may be in violation; they simply post pics they like. They use it to visually demonstrate where their interests lie. I’m sure most re-pinners are not doing anything maliciously, but just having fun. Once the copyright suits begin there will be a deluge. How do you track all these repins from sites all over the world? Now that I think about it, there’s probably a new infringement every 3.4 seconds on that site. No way the average Joe knows there could be a problem, and I’m pretty average.
    Interesting reading – Thanks.

    • Michele Jennae

      July 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Good points Joe. I do not think that most users are doing anything malicious, and your point again, most have no clue that there may be copyright issues.

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