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.

Second Shooter

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.

Mossy View

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.

HalibutLunar Eclipse

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.

Amelia looking through the wand

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? .

Didn't know which I liked better

Just recently I looked at Pinterest for the first time to see what images of mine were on there. I plugged 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 ( 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.

Silly girl

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 (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?

Now that's some smoothie love.

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.

Finally finished

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”.)

16 Responses to No Interest In Pinterest

  1. Debbie says:

    Well done, Annie. This info is SO important to get out. I had a similar issue a couple years ago with tumblr…despite that my blog says NO to using my images (without permission) a particular image was ALL over the internet with no credit AT ALL or link back to my blog. I was furious. It’s hard to correct…but definitely worth it. Thanks for this post. xo

  2. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for this eye opener. I’ve been using Pinterest for a few month as a visual bookmarking tool for websites I don’t consult regularly (I never pinned your images because when I read a good recipe on your site I remember I read it there). I never paid much attention to the fact that others could view and repin my pins.

    As soon as I read your post I searched for an alternative, an offline bookmarking tool that could link to a picture of the bookmarked site. I haven’t found anything satisfactory so far and I’m interested if some of your reader have something to recommend.
    So I decided to go the old fashioned way. I copied links to my favorite pins into my Firefox bookmarks and I delete my Pinterest boards.

    I liked the convenience of Pinterest but I had not realized the damages it can cause.

  3. Annie says:

    Debbie- Tumblr is another site that is very difficult to search around on for images! What a shame that happened to you. I really think that most people who take images and repost them are just not thinking about them belong to or having value to the owner. :(

    Stephanie- Pinterest definitely has visual appeal. They just need to go about it differently- give the image owners choice over the addition of their images or perhaps small payment for each addition? I like the suggestion that images can only be ‘pinned’ if they have a “pin it” button attached the them or to the blog post they come from.

    I use the old fashioned way of bookmarking sites too!

  4. mb says:

    very well articulated. i have steered clear, though i couldn’t pin down (yuk yuk) why i have hesitated. this clears it up for me a lot.

  5. Annie says:

    Thank you, Josie. That is a helpful site explaining the main steps for search and having image removal. It’s much more difficult than it should be and just confirms the belief that Pinterest is hoping it will be too time consuming to have stolen images removed.

    mb- hee hee. This is true for me too. I would hear over and over how addicting and cool Pinterest was and couldn’t even bring myself to look further into it. I suppose it would have been good if I did so I might have caught more of my images earlier.

  6. Bridie says:

    Oh, boy. I feel for you. I don’t use Pinterest, but would you believe a random Google search I did one day led to a Pinterest link to one of your pictures? I did a search at that point to see how many of your images were used and was shocked (well, shocked and not shocked: it is no surprise that someone would want to ‘pin’ to your content or photos, but it was overwhelming, to say the least and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would feel like if I was finding my own work pinned there without context, proper attribution or permission…)

    Chels said something the other day, quoting someone else (can’t remember whom) that the biggest lie of our generation is: “I have read the terms and conditions.” You are so right when you say that it is unclear that Pinterest exists for people to pin their own work. I don’t use it, but I’ve perused it and the impression I got is that it is aspirational/inspirational. That it was intended for people to showcase ideas/things that speak to them in some way. I DO know that Pinterest profits LARGE from the content it’s users shares, and that is one of the reasons I don’t use it (one of the many – privacies and ownership issues being paramount…) Most people don’t have a clue about that aspect, and maybe they wouldn’t care, but it should – at the very least – be clear.

    I abstain from sharing on social media because of this kind of abuse and I’m glad you started a conversation about it. Hopefully people will take notice. Including those at Pinterest.

  7. erin says:

    oy. i recall our conversations about this and i am so sorry and saddened that you continue to find your images there, and out of context, without permission etc. i’m glad you wrote this because it seems people need to begin actually thinking, about others and their actions and how they affect others, not killing time pinning, and fantasizing and consuming their way to feeling better through making life look pretty on a board. i’m sorry but there is a hollowness and shallowness to it, IMO … maybe i’ve missed something in the 1/2 hour i took one afternoon to look at it, via contacts on flickr. i simply wonder where people’s days go? their time with their kids? or just being face to face, in caring connection? i definitely wouldn’t find any meaningful appeal there.

    i think it is time i did a search, and i’m strongly considering going the F&F route on flickr and condensing my contacts and dropping lots.

    i also book mark the old fashioned way, and will continue to do so. i also hope you receive some sincere apologies.

    okay, off to read a book and plan my garden. xo

  8. Dawn Suzette says:

    Thanks for writing about this Annie. So sorry you are having such a hassle with them. Amazing the way people act when $$$ becomes more important than people!

  9. Meg says:

    Not a full solution but any photos you are particularly concerned with you can enter into It’s a reverse image search. So it will find all of the places that a particular image appears.

  10. Annie says:

    Bridie- It seems like there isn’t a site on the internet that hasn’t been pinned! It’s quite shocking just how much content is on there. I’ve been wondering about what percentage of pinterest *isn’t* infringed copyright. Many people probably don’t even know their work has been copied! It’s not all together obvious unless you look at the stats of where people are coming from. Erin was just telling me how to see this on flickr the other day!

    They were talking on CBC the other day about TOS agreements and how they should be (or “they’re” working on a law?) much MUCH easier to understand. At the very least it shouldn’t be confusing on purpose, like many TOS agreements are. I don’t read every word of TOS agreements myself but I do skim at least and on some sites I’ve felt unsure about, I’ve ended up not signing up. They don’t make it easy. For real, the pinterest TOS does say you aren’t allowed to share work that you don’t have copyright of. I wonder how few people only pin their own work? Not many I’d bet.

    Erin- Thank you. It’s so true that many pinterest users simply don’t know this side of things. I think pinterest is a ‘time suck’ but I can see why with all the incredible images I’ve seen laid out so pretty. I think we’re likely on the same page that we may not chose to prioritise our limited computer time to include the likes of pinterest but there is obvious value found to the people that do chose to spend their time that way.

    I was thinking yesterday about what we’ve talked about with changing settings on flickr to ‘friends and family’ only. I’m not sure how I feel. I still want to enjoy blogging and photo sharing the way I have been for the past four years. I’ve connected with some incredible people this way- you are one of those incredible people!! I’m a bit angry that something like copyright infringement makes me think I should hide my thoughts and photos away in case they are to be stolen by a big business when I’m just a small guy. It’s not what I want and I don’t think I should have to do that either.

    I’m just glad that if you move in the direction of ‘friends and family’ only seeing your photos, I will be fortunate enough to still enjoy following along in your life! It’s so important that you do what you need to to feel comfortable. Maybe it’s worth trying at least temporarily to see how it feels? I’ve thought about that anyway… For now, I’m comfortable leaving things the way they are. That said, I do notice that I’m not uploading as many photos as I could or blogging about all my photos.

    I would be so grateful to receive a sincere apology from pinterest and see them conduct their business with an ‘opt in’ option instead of the barely good enough opt out. Heck, I’d settle for them simply removing my images (in all sizes and formats) from their servers.

    I’ve already had a couple people email/message me with apologies for pinning my images and I honestly don’t think this is necessary. Many of the pinners are people I know and weren’t trying to take my images. I understand this and am not upset with these people at all. I just hope they understand that my not wanting my images on that site (and other sites like it) isn’t personal.

    Dawn- Ha! I was just saying to Cam last night as I was copying even more copyrighted image pinterest links to another email to pinterest that “I hate money!”. I hate that many people in this world care more about money than they do about people. :(

    Meg- Thank you! I’ve used, as well as a google version of this (?) but it didn’t bare much fruit in the pinterest department. It’s a really good way to find stolen images on other blogs and flickr though… this is also a good search in the url bar: (just replace my url for the one someone wants to search for. Thanks to Josie for that hint.)

    A friend linked to this post on facebook and their friend commented that they didn’t feel bad for me (and didn’t seem to have actually read my post). She also commented that her pinning is a way to show admiration for cool stuff she sees. I thought I’d share my comments to that here too:

    “I think the majority of pinterest users are doing so without malice. Unfortunately that doesn’t negate the fact that pinterest is wilfully making huge profits from copyright infringement. They need to do business differently. Image owners need to have a choice.

    I know I would prefer to hear “hey this is so cool” in a comment on my blog or my image on flickr than have the post pinned to pinterest without my knowledge or without permission. This feels less like admiration and more like just taking. It’s taking just a small snippet (one image) of a whole post. Many people from pinterest don’t come to fully read, connect etc. They might come for a quick look but pinning rarely leads to anything more meaningful.

    Connecting, meaningfulness… are these silly words to share about this topic? Not to me. It’s why I blog; again, not to create huge profits for social media sites.”

  11. Stephanie says:

    Annie, One option to “protect” your images a little more would be to add a watermark with your copyright. I used to have a script that did that automatically on my images. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t prevent people from using your images but at least it gives you credit for them.

  12. Annie says:

    This is a great idea, Stephanie and one I’ve thought a little about. I just recently made a watermark for my photos but need to work a bit more on how to go about it… Thank you!

  13. V says:

    i just wanted to respectfully share another opinion here…

    Quoting pinterest TOS:

    “Welcome to Pinterest! Pinterest is an online and mobile service that allows you to create online pinboards and organize and share beautiful things you find on the web.”

    keyword i see here is find.

    this does not really lead one to believe that the site is for posting one’s own work.

    and then, the etiquette portion of the TOS states:

    “(3)Credit Your Sources: Pins are the most useful when they have links back to the original source.”

    you’ll have to excuse those of us who have read/skimmed through the TOS and feel like we are using the service as it was intended.

    shame that so much judgement always needs to be cast, simply for the way people choose to spend some of their free time.

    it’s really pretty unnecessarily harsh to suggest that just because you use pinterest you are some sort of time wasting, hollow, shallow, consumerist monster with no respect for others:
    “it seems people need to begin actually thinking, about others and their actions and how they affect others, not killing time pinning, and fantasizing and consuming their way to feeling better through making life look pretty on a board. i’m sorry but there is a hollowness and shallowness to it”

    connecting, community, repsect… i sincerely hope that no one here is suggesting that just because someone spends their time differently than you do, that somehow these things do not matter to them just as much.

  14. Annie says:


    If you read more of the TOS you will see:

    1. Sharing your content. (This isn’t suppose to mean sharing my or other people’s content.)

    a) …Anything that you pin, post, display, or otherwise make available on our Service, including all Intellectual Property Rights (defined below) in such content, is referred to as “User Content.”… (So my content that is pinned/posted/displayed on pinterest is now legally known as someone else’s “user content”?, um no. It’s still mine.)

    b) …you grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify (e.g., re-format), re-arrange, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest for the purposes of operating and providing the Service(s) to you and to our other Users…. (I never granted the person posting my images, or pinterest for that matter, any of these rights because my content was taken and posted on pinterest without permission.)

    d) Your responsibility for your content:

    i) To Pinterest and our community.
    … agree to abide by our Pin Etiquette…. (hmmm… pin etiquette. You only share number 3. of the etiquette. It’s a bit besides the point but let’s look at number 2.)

    2. Be Authentic
    Pinterest is an expression of who you are. We think being authentic to who you are is more important than getting lots of followers. Being authentic will make Pinterest a better place long-term.

    (Authentic – I wonder how you stay authentic when you are pinning other peoples work?)

    3. Credit your sources (This in no way makes up for the fact that a pinner very likely hasn’t been given permission to use the content that doesn’t belong to them in the first place. It is still infringing on copyright, even if you credit the source, which is against the law.)

    (They should include a point about asking permission before pinning. That would be more responsible but likely result in less content posted on pinterest with wouldn’t be good for business.)

    In the Acceptable Use Policy:

    You agree not to post User Content that:

    …-violates, or encourages any conduct that violates laws or regulations (This would include copyright infringement);…
    …-infringes any third party’s Intellectual Property Rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other personal or proprietary rights (Taking images without permission definitely infringes in this manner.);…
    …-contains any information or content that you do not have a right to make available under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships; or…

    d) Your responsibility for your content:

    ii) To third parties.
    Pinterest values and respects the rights of third party creators and content owners, and expects you to do the same. You therefore agree that any User Content that you post to the Service does not and will not violate any law or infringe the rights of any third party, including without limitation any Intellectual Property Rights, publicity rights or rights of privacy. ( Pinterest is doing their part to pass the copyright infringement fault onto the “pinner”. )

    e) Definition of Intellectual Property Rights. When we refer to “Intellectual Property Rights” in these Terms, we mean all patent rights; copyright rights;…

    9. Disclaimers

    … PINTEREST takes no responsibility and assumes no liability for any User Content that you or any other User or third party posts or sends over the Service. You are solely responsible for your User Content and the consequences of posting or publishing it, and you agree that we are only acting as a passive conduit for your AND OTHER USERS’ online distribution and publication of your AND THEIR User Content. You understand and agree that you may be exposed to User Content that is inaccurate, objectionable, inappropriate for children, or otherwise unsuited to your purpose…. (ie. Not pinterest’s fault if you break the law.)

    Please also read this article written by professional photographer and lawyer Kirsten Kowalski: She writes about her love for Pinterest but why she deleted all the pinterest content that did not belong to her. It was infringing on copyright/breaking the law.

    I totally agree that pinterest doesn’t make it obvious that you are only suppose to share your own work or work that has given permission to be used that way, especially if you only skim the TOS. That’s one of the biggest problems with pinterest and why it’s causing a lot of grief for people who’s work is being taken without permission.

    This was my reply to the part you quoted:

    “It’s so true that many pinterest users simply don’t know this side of things. I think pinterest is a ‘time suck’ but I can see why with all the incredible images I’ve seen laid out so pretty. I think we’re likely on the same page that we may not chose to prioritise our limited computer time to include the likes of pinterest but there is obvious value found to the people that do chose to spend their time that way.”

    You say:
    “connecting, community, repsect… i sincerely hope that no one here is suggesting that just because someone spends their time differently than you do, that somehow these things do not matter to them just as much.”

    I wouldn’t want to suggest this BUT I wonder if you might appreciate how it might feel when someone’s images are taken and posted on a website that saves a full sized copy (in multiple sizes) of that image and strips all the metadata (this is the embedded information stating who owns the photo, copyright and contact information). That photo then goes viral on the site and is pinned and repinned hundreds of times. People pop in and out of the source url, clearly not reading the whole post, never commenting but repinning and commenting there with trivial comments like “cool” or “make”. On top of it all, that website is making millions of dollars from their site and the “user content”. To have the photos removed you have a search for every. single. copy. of that “user content”, that never belonged to the ‘user’ in the first place, on a site that isn’t set up to easily search and jot down the url to have it removed. This doesn’t feel anything like connecting, community or respect. Not even a little bit.

    Again, Pinterest is facilitating, encouraging and condoning copyright infringement. They need to go about their business in a different way- a way that doesn’t making copyright infringement so easy. Where you have to “opt in” to pinterest instead of have a difficult time “opting out” after the damage is already done.

    (I realise that this comment could be read as inflammatory but that isn’t my intention. I’m not angered by your comment, V but I do want to find some more clarity in this issue and on the points you brought up. I don’t want to judge the users of pinterest (especially with value judgements) apart from stating that I think most users don’t read or understand the TOS because most wouldn’t knowingly want to break the law. I know many people who first pinned my images and they are people who I know and care about and they feel the same way about me. They didn’t know that this would be a problem for me.)

  15. christine blanchard says:

    those who can’t do, pin.

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