This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for some time but have hesitated, not wanting to offend my well meaning friends who use sites like Pinterest. However I’ve reached critical mass in my frustration around my images being used without permission elsewhere on the internet, but particularly Pinterest.
My images (and text) have been used on other blogs fraudulently with the blogger pretending it’s their own. More often my images (and sometimes text) have been reposted on blogs because the blogger thought something I posted was cool. Most of these bloggers link back to my post but almost never ask permission first.
Reporting these incidents can be time consuming but simple compared to what I’ve been going through with Pinterest. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that Pinterest is so difficult to deal with since their whole business model is based on their users infringing on copyright. They might tell you in the legal fine print that you are only suppose to ‘pin’ your own work but that is clearly not the way Pinterest is meant to be used or more importantly, is used. Pinterest is facilitating, encouraging and condoning copyright infringement.
I’ve been told by people that I should be flattered that my images are ‘pinned’ or that I should be grateful that it brings traffic to my blog. But after seeing the flow and traffic over time, it just feels like stealing and the traffic seems to have no value. I’m not connecting with more people through this traffic and I’m not hearing why someone likes my posts or images. Having a higher traffic count on my blog doesn’t make my blogging experience any better and it’s not why I do it.
Many of the first ‘pins’ from my blog were made by people I know and care about. I think that needs to be said. I don’t think all users on Pinterest are bad or even malicious in their pinning. I do think that Terms of Service agreements aren’t read fully on most sites; many are extremely difficult to understand. Mostly, I don’t think that ‘pinners’ are always considering the wishes of the image owner or the ramifications of their ‘pinning’ as they blindly pin and re-pin items.
What’s the difference between ‘pinning’ photos from blog posts on Pinterest and sharing links to blog posts on Facebook or other social media sites? For one thing, unlike Facebook and others, Pinterest saves full sized copies of the images to their servers. They even strip the metadata attached to the photos they copy. The metadata is the embedded information stating who owns the photo, copyright and contact information.
I haven’t ever given Pinterest the permission to own or use copies of my images. From the beginning Pinterest has been moving in the direction of HUGE profits off of all these images they neither own nor licensed in any way. I read recently that Pinterest has been talking with the same people who set up Facebook’s very profitable ads.
It’s well worth reading this fantastic article: Pinterest – Copyright Infringement made cool and Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards and Is Pinterest A Haven For Copyright Violations? .
Just recently I looked at Pinterest for the first time to see what images of mine were on there. I plugged pinterest.com/source/annie.paxye.com/ into the url bar and was shocked at all the images! I was mildly upset at first and then more so when I saw images of Leif when he was very small. Away from my blog and out of context it felt terrible to see those particular images taken like that to be gawked at by strangers and ‘repinned’ over and over by more strangers. I immediately sent off an email to Pinterest (email@example.com) asking that my images be removed and within a couple days I received a reply saying that they had been. I felt relief. I also found a plugin for my blog to disallow pinning in the future and I thought that was the end of it.
At least until more traffic came from Pinterest. What the? It turns out that even though my ‘pinned’ images link back to my blog (at least I hope they all do), not all of them come up when you search Pinterest via their search button or through pinterest.com/source/url (or google search for that matter). There are countless more of my images that I can’t see until someone clicks through to my blog. I found this very disconcerting and emailed Pinterest again to tell them that my images were still on their site. I have since been told over and over again (by Enid Hwang) that they will remove my copyrighted images only if I provide a link to each and every ‘pin’.
Just the thought of spending so much time searching around their website for my copyrighted images to provide links for removal makes me feel so angry BUT I can’t even do that because my images aren’t apparently searchable. I find it hard to believe that their staff aren’t able to search for them with ease considering the source of the images is the same. If copyright infringement was as important to them as they state, why aren’t they doing more to help me solve this serious problem?
I imagine they are counting on the fact that attempting to find one’s own images on a non searchable site, and that have spread like a virus, will be too overwhelming of a task. That small time photographers like me, without extensive resources or endless amounts of time will have no choice but to give up and allow their site to continue to profit off of our work.
If you are using Pinterest and have ‘pinned’ any of my content, please delete it. If there are ‘repins’ of my content from your original ‘pin’, please share those links with me so I may have them removed.
If you are using Pinterest please take the time to read the Terms of Service that you agreed to. You are likely breaking the law and infringing on the copyright of others work. At the very least, please ask each and every time you ‘pin’ or ‘repin’ something that the owner of that image is okay with it.
(I just picked some random photo favourites to go in this post. I’m surprised each time I go back to old photos and think “I’ve learned so much since I took ‘that’ photo”.)