The Pinterest Problem

How many of you are on Pinterest? How many of you are thinking of joining the newest social media trend?

I joined only two weeks ago and fell instantly in love with the beauty of it. I’m a very visual, hands-on person. No other social media site lets you collect and share images in the same way. For writers, it provides an opportunity to create inspiration boards for our novels, promote each other’s books, and drive traffic to our blogs. It seemed to be the best of what social media has to offer in that it was both fun and functional.

Unfortunately, Pinterest’s terms of service have caused some concern across the web this week. According to the terms of service, if you upload your own work, you’re giving Cold Brew Labs complete and irrevocable rights to use, sell, or modify your work as they see fit. Without compensating you. Anytime someone wants all rights to my material, I get nervous. Especially if they’re not going to pay me for it.

But I don’t upload any of my own pictures or artwork, you say. This is an equally big problem.

Check out what you agreed to in Pinterest’s terms of service: “Neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation.”

What this means is that if you don’t have the express permission of the person who does own the copyright to the images you pin and they decide to sue Pinterest, you’re 100% responsible.

If you want to do a little more reading on this (and believe me, I will be) here are a couple helpful articles I’ve come across.

Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards

Why Pinterest Is No Longer of Great Interest

Now, for a happier note, what have Lisa and I been up to this week…

Marcy’s asking Do You Believe in Second Chances? Tolkien did.

Lisa shares her recipe for Soldier Cookies, the ones she used to send to the troops in Afghanistan.


Connect with Marcy on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Connect with Lisa on Twitter, subscribe to her on Facebook, or join her circles on Google+.

And don’t forget to subscribe to Marcy’s new blog Life At Warp 10 and Lisa’s new blog Through the Fire.


21 comments on “The Pinterest Problem

  1. I’m embarrassed to say that I signed up for a Pinterest account after receiving an invite from a co-worker, but never got around to using it. It seems like a great tool, and I’m really into fashion and home decorating, so I think it could work out well for me, but I haven’t had much time to play with it. If I do, I’ll be sure to tread carefully given the chatter I’ve been hearing. Thanks, Marcy!

  2. THANK you for this! I’ve been researching Pinterest for my freelance job and everything was coming up ALL roses until yesterday when I read “Why Pinterest Is No Longer of Great Interest”. And now this. Thank you, Marcy. I definitely don’t want to deal with any copyright infringements…What to do? What to do?

  3. Well that freaking sucks.. I thought I was just pinning pics form the web to inspire people and tell share thoughts and ideas of things I like/love and to just have fun (with no monetary gain) and now I can get sued?!

    😦 Maybe i will have to delete my Pinterest account.

  4. Thanks for the informative post, Marcy. I hadn’t got into Pinterest yet myself but was hearing so much about it, was about to sign up. I agree, this is a whole can of worms better to stay out of until we see how it all plays out. In many ways, the Internet is the Wild West still. And we don’t want the sheriff coming after us!

  5. Pinterest’s rules, very clearly if memory serves, said that the site was NOT for self promotion…which is why I was surprised when all my writer friends jumped on there and started posting their books. It’s for crafty types…it’s for sharing info. I frankly do NOT understand a lot of it…but I have friends who are frantic Pinners and spend hours using it.

  6. Another observation…why do they allow you to have a Pin-It button that will help search an interesting page for an image or data if they are so concerned with copy-write laws? Sounds like they are covering their tushies and weren’t really sure what they’d gotten themselves into.

  7. Very interesting. I’m going to get my law student hubby to read this stuff and give me his advice, I think. 🙂 I only just got into Pinterest and I thought it was a very interesting way to organize photos that I find on the web and like. I thought Pinterest gave original credit to the source; for example, I’ve clicked on recipe pictures that I’m interested in, and gone to the source to find the recipe. I also see my writer friends using it to promote their books… Carla Stewart posted a ton of pictures of dresses of the era of one of her books, and Tricia Goyer created a board of Titanic pictures to promote her book on that topic. I’ve uploaded pictures that I’ve taken to go along with my blog posts, with my name on them, in the hopes that people will repin them or like the picture and click through to my blog post. So I am pinning my own photos and using it for self-promotion. Isn’t that why any writer uses social networking? 🙂 All of this legal stuff is very complicated, however, even after I read those links you posted (thanks for those).

    • As I understand it, giving credit to the original source unfortunately isn’t enough in this case. Photographers and other artists are angry because they haven’t given their permission for their work to be used and shared on Pinterest and are saying it violates their copyright and goes beyond fair use. Since Pinterest says you’ve responsible for gaining permission to pin whatever you pin, you’re solely responsible should someone whose work you’ve pinned decide to sue.


  8. Thanks for this timely info. I was on the fence about Pinterest. You swayed me. I think it’s not worth my time at this point. 🙂

  9. Hi! Thanks for the heads up on this issue! I had been hearing whispers about this lately, but never took the time to investigate it myself. Here’s what I wrote in response to Bonnie’s link on FB:

    I just read through the Pinterest ToS again, and I have no problem with it. The “member content” section which deals with Cold Brew Labs’ rights as mentioned in the blog post also states that the universal rights they’re claiming “only on, through, or by means of the Site, Application, or services. So CBL can’t sell my photo to a magazine or where ever and profit from it. But it can use my photo to promote Pinterest, and include it in their Pinterest newsletter, or otherwise use it in connection to Pinterest. Which I am ok with.

    As for being responsible for other people’s content that I upload, I’m not as sure about that one. But I do believe that Pinterest does an excellent job of of providing attribution, and it is the member’s responsibility to ensure that the photos we upload are from the original source, rather than tumblr or google or something where the source can’t be traced. (I hate tumblr for that!) In such cases, if there is copyright infringement, I think it would be tumblr or whatever that would be held responsible, not the Pinterest member. Just my 2 cents 😉

    So for me personally, I don’t have a problem with using Pinterest. Keep in mind, I’m no lawyer 😉 I wish everyone luck in reaching a decision about it!

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  13. I deleted mine just because as a former professional photographer, I know how it feels to have your work used without your permission, so I couldn’t–in good conscience–do it on there. It would be like downloading illegal music. But, I guess not really. I don’t know. I’ll wait until it’s clearer and join again. It really was fun.

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