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Artists upset with Pinterest over copyright issues and alleged copyright infringement?

by Brian Sherwin on 2/22/2012 12:32:57 PM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 17,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

It has come to my attention that some artists are annoyed by Pinterest regarding copyright. Point blank -- some artists view the ease of sharing -- 'pinning' -- images of art on Pinterest without permission from the copyright owner as a threat to all artists. This concern adds to a recent burst of online criticism over how Pinterest handles content and copyright in general -- so much so that Pinterest recently defended itself, via company blog post, against accusations that the site is dependent on the exploitation of copyrighted material. Pinterest also recently updated a page about Copyright. That said, I have a feeling that this debate over Pinterest and copyright is not going away anytime soon -- and a lot of that has to do with how the Pinterest terms of service (TOS) agreement is currently written.


On the company blog post Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann states, "We work hard to follow the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] procedure for acting quickly when we receive notices of claimed copyright infringement. We have a form for reporting claims of copyright violations on our site here. Every pin has a flag to make reporting easier. We also know that copyright is a complicated and nuanced issue and we have knowledgeable people who are providing lots of guidance.". Unfortunately, what Silbermann says does not mesh well with what is stated on the Pinterest terms of service (TOS) page -- which has not been updated since March of 2011 at the time of this writing.


The TOS agreement on Pinterest -- under Ownership -- states that, "Site, Application, Services and Site Content are protected by copyright, trademark, and other laws of the United States and foreign countries." This wording is confusing because it implies that Pinterest -- or more specifically, Cold Brew Labs, Inc, holds copyright / trademark to anything 'pinned' on Pinterest. After all, the terms also state that, ""Site Content" means Member Content and Pinterest Content." Point blank -- Pinterest assumes that you own copyright to whatever you 'pin' (which is laughable considering how the site is being used by 'Pinners') -- and from the wording in current Terms it appears they expect you to hand that ownership over by giving them strict rights. In other words, Pinterest can use your content (which is likely not technically your content to begin with IF you are 'Pinning' copyrighted materials from sources other than your own) for profit if they chose to do so.


For whatever reason Pinterest -- at least based on the Pinterest TOS agreement --has not made it clear that copyright owners of images 'pinned' retain ownership of their respected work. That is misleading because a copyright owner may not know that his or her content has been 'pinned' by someone else -- and Pinterest assumes that the Pinner has copyright. Instead the terms state, "Except as expressly provided in these Terms, Cold Brew Labs and its licensors exclusively own all right, title and interest in and to the Site, Application, Services and Site Content, including all associated intellectual property rights." In fact, Pinterest seems more concerned about people exploiting the website -- and their overall content -- than with the exploitation of copyrighted material in general. True, the terms do offer warnings about -- and resolutions for -- copyright disputes... but there is a lot of conflicting information as well. Hopefully that confusion will be dealt with in another Terms update at some point.


The Pinterest terms of service agreement does make it clear that Pinners should hold copyright to whatever they choose to pin, stating, "You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services." However, I would suggest that Pinterest is fully aware that the majority of 'pinned' content is not owned by site users. It does not take long to realize that just by observing the main page of the website.


The Pinterest agreement terms go on to state, "Accordingly, you represent and warrant that: (i) you either are the sole and exclusive owner of all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services or you have all rights, licenses, consents and releases that are necessary to grant to Cold Brew Labs the rights in such Member Content, as contemplated under these Terms." -- which is their way of assuming that Pinners do in fact have the right... and thus they, Pinterest / Cold Brew Labs, have the right to use said content in anyway they choose. Note: That wording alone could become a legal mess if at some point Pinterest explores Print on Demand services OR starts to market prints (and other merchandise for that matter) involving Member Content solely for company profit -- which could technically happen based on how the TOS agreement is written at this time.


To be fair -- Pinterest's TOS agreement has a lot of info that is standard on most websites in general. Some of the wording is needed for websites of this nature to function -- and to avoid unnecessary lawsuits. For example, websites like Pinterest do need to have the right to use member content strictly for non-profit site promotional reasons -- or else they could be sued by any member who decides to terminate his or her account IF the content he or she uploaded remains on the website in some form. It is the way it is because individuals have attempted lawsuits against website owners in the past over these reasons.


TOS agreements can be tricky. Website owners generally want to protect themselves while protecting others. That goes 10 fold when artists are involved -- because artists are more apt to be upset about TOS wording compared to your average site user. I can recall similar issues spurred by deviantART's TOS agreement years ago -- and Myartspace (now defunct) had to make a few changes as well to appease artists. That said, Pinterest could do a better job of acknowledging copyright ownership in general -- and perhaps state that Member Content will only be used for non-profit site promotion.


Pinterest has offered what they view as a solution for the wider problem of alleged copyright infringement on the site. Ben Silverman -- co-founder of Pinterest-- recently stated, "We understand and respect that sometimes site owners do not want any of their material pinned. For these folks, we provide a snippet of code that can be added to any website." -- pointing to a recently released code that, in a sense, allows website owners to 'block' Pinterest users from 'pinning' things from their website. The only problem with this feature is that many feel that it should not be the responsibility of website owners to include Pinterest code on their website in order to 'protect' their pages from Pinterest users -- and thus, Pinterest overall. In fact, some have went as far as to describe this code as "intrusive".


Another interesting side of this is the fact that Pinterest has not officially -- as far as I know -- said anything about the concept of 'fair use' in regard to the site and Member Content. If the site truly expects website owners to safeguard their content by utilizing the offered code one would think that they would draw upon the concept of 'fair use' as a defense for user generated content on the site in general. After all, if a legal issue did arise from this... any legal team worth their weight in cash would 'attack' the idea that website owners should be expected to protect their content from another website -- especially when said website acknowledges the problem by offering what they view as a solution to avoid infringement. In a sense, Pinterest is saying 'we know that copyright infringement is a massive problem on our service -- so much so that we have created a way for you to block our site users -- but it is YOUR problem if you don't use our code'.


I honestly feel that Pinterest has good intentions -- I'd suggest that they just need time to get things right Terms-wise. That said, I do agree that they should probably re-think their terms of service approach in regard to copyright -- and perhaps implement some of the site-side tactics used by Youtube and deviantART to protect copyright owners. Not to mention that website owners -- including artists -- would probably not be so upset about being 'Pinned' if it were not for the fact that the terms on Pinterest technically state ownership of Member Content. Point blank -- the current Terms could easily become legally muddy depending on how Pinterest uses said content. For example, IF Pinterest offered a Print on Demand service involving Member Content images -- all Hell would break loose among copyright supporters. Trust me. Thus, they should declare that Member Content will only be used for non-profit site promotion -- that alone would be a step in the right direction.


With the above in mind, Pinterest is in a unique situation -- a rock and hard place, really -- compared to websites like Facebook and YouTube. I say that because Pinterest, as a service, clearly relies on copyright material -- whereas Facebook and YouTube involves a lot of content that is purely user-driven. For example, if you removed all of the potentially infringing content off of YouTube you would still be left with millions of member created videos and corporate sponsored videos. The same goes for Facebook -- if you removed all of the images, for example, you would still be left with billions upon billions of text-based wall posts. In a sense, Facebook and YouTube does not have to rely on potentially infringing material in order to function as a website and service -- they would still have 'meat on the bone' if all of the questionable content vanished tomorrow. Pinterest can try to claim the same -- but just a few glances of the site says otherwise.


In closing, do you have an opinion about these issues? Should copyright law be followed so solidly that it prevents people from introducing others to the artists they admire online? Should Pinterest modify site terms with artists and other copyright owners in mind? Is it wrong for Pinterest to expect website owners to include code that prevents 'Pinning'? Has Pinterest 'over-stepped' current law by claiming so much control -- as in rights to content -- over Member Content in general? Should they declare that Member Content will only be used for non-profit site promotion? Share your thoughts.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin


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Related Posts:

Online Art Community: The pros and cons of online art groups

Copyright Registration: Protecting Yourself as Well as Your Collectors

How do we protect our copyrighted images on the Internet?

Goodbye Myartspace OR Oops! Your online presence just vanished

Is it OK for Other Websites to Use Your Copyrighted Images?

How Artwork Image "Thieves" Improve Your Marketing

Copyright Registration: Some thoughts on registering a series of paintings

Topics: art law | Brian Sherwin | copyright | FineArtViews | originality | social networking | Think Tank | Pinterest 

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Pinterest's assumption that the pinner owns the copyright to images is particularly disturbing as they also state in their policies that people who pin should not do so for purposes of self-promotion.

If an artist can't promote their own work, what other images would they have a copyright to that would go on their boards?

Cory Huff
I think that the idea that Pinterest is somehow a massive copyright violator, but Youtube and Facebook are not, is silly.

Facebook has thousands of times as many images. Youtube has millions of times as much video. Pinterest is doing the exact same thing that FB and Youtube are doing, they're just doing it in a specific way that highlights images.

I would think that most artists have a much bigger problem than worrying about someone sharing their images without an attribution, and that's getting any sort of attention at all. Most artists struggle to get any traction with fans and galleries.

The sharing and link economy of the web means that even if a few people don't attribute an image properly, if you start to build momentum, your images will bring you the eyeballs you need.

I would love it if you could link to some of the artists who are complaining about Pinterest. I'd love to read some of these blog posts that other artists are writing.

Sari Grove
Right at the beginning, I remember thinking how visually lush Pinterest was, how wonderful, what a great idea...
But very quickly the rose faded...I started feeling like it was very product based...Sort of 'aren't these nice shoes', 'isn't this a nice hairstyle'- then it just started feeling like people trying to sell these products...'Here is a dress you should buy', ' a kitchen design you could get'...
So I lost interest...It was a one night stand...So I guess I just don't really care...It's just one of those places where one can go if one is truly bored and has nothing else to do, but I am not going to get uppity about copyright issues with Pinterest...It was just a meaningless relationship-I don't expect them to call the next day...

Brian Sherwin
Carolyn --Excellent point. Pinterest really needs to think about editing terms... make things more clear. That is the main issue I have. There are so many contradictions...

Cory -- I've seen artists complain on Facebook and Twitter, I just read a comment on a Mashable article by an artist who is concerned. Trust me -- the concern is out there. Google search 'artists copyright Pinterest' and you find examples comment-wise.

I don't know... I tend to agree with the idea that Facebook and YouTube could function -- survive -- even if all of the potentially infringing material were removed today. There would still be a lot of user-driven content that does not violate copyright in any way. Pinterest on the other hand appears to have a huge problem with alleged infringement for a site so young, if you will. Hell, they know it -- why else would they offer a code that blocks their service?

Don't get me wrong Cory -- I'm all for sharing info. That said, as some artists have pointed out... the problem with Pinterest is that, for example, if you find an image on Google images there is almost no chance that the 'Pinned' image will mention the person behind the image. In other words, the biggest problem facing Pinterest is the fact that so many people don't bother to include specific info -- OR make just a few more clicks in order to point back to the artists website. I suppose that points to a larger issue.

Sari -- That appears to be another strong complaint about Pinterest in general -- that marketers are taking it over. I'm not sure how huge that problem really is though.

Cory Huff
From a technical perspective, it is *very* difficult to cull all content for potentially infringing material. DMCA allows for take down notifications, which Pinterest abides by.

Again, I think there's a certain amount of irrationality about Pinterest. The worst case scenario is what has everyone's attention, but too few are talking about the upside.

Brian Sherwin
Cory -- What about the terms in general? Don't you think they should be clear that Member Content will only be used for non-profit promotion of the site? Instead, the terms read as if you are transferring copyright over to Pinterest (not to mention they automatically assume that you have copyright of whatever you 'pin' according to some of the wording in their terms) -- and from there they can do what they desire with it.

I know Facebook and several other sites can be called out for that same wording -- but what about Pinterest... considering much of the site is image based? Thoughts?

I know that website terms are often not as legally binding as site owners think. Still... I do think some of the wording needs to be changed -- and I stand by that.

Cory Huff
Oh, sure. Change the terms. I don't disagree there. I think that will go a long way towards alleviating the fears of content creators.

Brian Sherwin
Agreed. So the big question is -- why have they not done that? They have released a code so that website owners can 'block' their site from being pinned. Fair enough. A few changes in wording should not be that hard to do.

Pamela Poole
I've been evaluating this kind of info about coyright concerns with Pinterest for several weeks, hoping to write a follow-up blog to my first one, "Why Pinterest Should Interest Artists." It was amazingly popular, and my post about using Pinterest in the ArtBiz group in LinkedIn has well over 100 comments--I can barely keep up with all of this feedback. There is no question that this venue is a needed breath of fresh air in social media, and artists are loving the ability to gather visual resources and share their art on it more than they are concerned about copyrights.

I kept trying to make sense out of the Terms, and agree they should be much more clear. But I think that those who focus on the first of the 2 options for members to list content on their boards are missing a whole picture--they need to look at option #2. For me, it jumped out that focusing on the part in option #1 about member "ownership" of content is like taking a Bible verse out of context and using it to support an agenda or build a cult out of it. Instead, a more rounded perspective is to look at option #2, which is about how members can ALSO add board content using the browser to collect online information. This would be the online pins from websites, be it stores, magazines, blogs, artist websites, etc. In other words, Pinterest Terms is not saying that all board content must belong to members--only the content being passed off as their own in origin.

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- You said, "For me, it jumped out that focusing on the part in option #1 about member "ownership" of content is like taking a Bible verse out of context and using it to support an agenda or build a cult out of it."

Again, I think it all boils down to the fact that they clearly need to re-write sections of Terms overall. deviantART and a number of other big websites have had to change Terms at one point or the other to appease artists -- Pinterest will likely do the same.

With that in mind, I still think that Pinterest should make it clear that Member Content will only be used for non-profit promotion of the site. The Terms appear to be very open-ended in that technically -- and I'm not saying that Pinterest would do this -- the site owners could profit off of Member Content.

The current Terms make it clear that they have the right to transfer and SELL the images. Again, I'm not saying they would do that -- but what happens if the site comes under new ownership? Point blank -- the Terms need to be clear... and most have agreed that there should be a few changes in wording.

As an associate of mine put it -- "someone could go to an artist's site, "Pin" an image, and have Pinterest print and sell the image (Lets print Pinterest launches a Print on Demand service). Then the artist would get pissed, and sue Pinterest, and then Pinterest would realize that I violated their terms by not owning the copyright when I pinned the image, and turn around and sue me for their damages. Yeah, far fetched, I know, but plausible under their current terms."

He also said, "I have a feeling they put the word "sell" in there more for the case of selling their firehose data of images, not print on demand, but it's still something to be aware of."

Food for thought.

Brian Sherwin
Blah, I meant 'Lets pretend Pinterest launches a Print on Demand service'.

Marsha Hamby Savage
Thanks for posting this article. Some of us are anxiously awaiting more clarification. After I read Pamela's post and all the comments on LinkedIn. I shared an article on Facebook she had posted a link for. Mainly I did this to get my friends to start thinking about what they were doing if they did not give credit and a link to the art they were posting as "my favorite artists" type board.

We need to be careful about where we post our art and how it can be used. Thanks for this article.

Pamela Poole
Good points, Brian--I'm hearing similar scenarios from a few other artists. They know it is far-fetched and that the legalese about profit in the Terms is really about the site being able to advertise and pay people to maintain it, but it's so confusing to read that it makes us feel uncomfortable. Since Pinterest claims in various ways that it will never violate copyrights, I am going to be satisfied for now to believe that they understand that even if I pin an image linking back to a website, the image belongs to the creator I pinned it from; therefore any profit they may make of the image by printing it has to be by permission of the copyright holder, and would fall to direct, willful copyright violation on their part to the origin of the work. I never had any rights to it and never claimed to, therefore, I can not transfer any such right to Pinterest for them to profit from. It is really pretty simple as a concept--only their wording is the confusing factor in fueling the uncertainty for users.

Sari Grove
via So this morning Alyson Stanfield (@abstanfield), Tweeted this blog post about blocking Pinterest on Blogger...(comes from Katherine Tyrell on Making a Mark blog-gee I hope I spelled her name right)...
Anyways, it took about a minute to do, and I checked it...When I try to Pin an image from my blog, a message comes up that says sorry you can't Pin from this blog (not exactly-they say it nicer)...

How would you feel if someone pinned your art and added a tag description that said "We should paint this!" It's happening to me!:

I had already known about Pinterest for a few months but just joined it a couple of weeks ago when fans were telling me on my Facebook page ( that they were pinning my work. At first I was appreciative of their support and ecstatic!! Then yesterday, someone posted the above which was subsequently re-pinned more than 20x.... most of them going into boards called Do-It-Yourself, Painting Ideas, Crafts, etc. Based on my comment on her pin, I think I startled her enough that she deleted it. I pasted the same comment on the rest of the repins, some have deleted their pins, some have not.

I've been speaking with my web designer about whether to use the NOPIN code .. but Pinterest has honestly brought me a lot more exposure so we're thinking of other creative ways to watermark my images even more or maybe add some kind of disclaimer to it without compromising ecommerce esthetics and just keep our eyes on the pins.. though this alone is just another full-time job in itself! (

I've learned that many of Pinterest's original members are crafters and artisans (a large number who came from Etsy). Surely, many of them are using Pinterest for inspiration but sadly, some don't know much about copyright and its consequences. Pinterest welcomes a breeding ground for inspiration to infringe, whether intentionally or not. That said, I do believe Pinterest really needs to get on the ball with adjusting their model to protect creative professionals, otherwise, I do see lawsuits coming their way for enabling this sort of activity.

Sari Grove
Let's be honest...Uploading someone else's artwork to a site is illegal...When I heard that Pinterest etiquette was Not to pin your own work, I was stymied...In the recent ten years where the internet has been in full force, I have not been convinced that more exposure equals more money...Quite the opposite actually...There is a difference between 5000 people drinking your lemonade and 5000 people buying your lemonade...Exposure is the free drinkers...Once they have drunk they don't need to buy...Exposure is a myth created by people who don't want to pay licensing fees...

Joe Beasley

Why does Pinterest need the right to SELL what is linked to it?????????????

Ronald Gillis
I am a big believer in "watermarks"of all types.I think this ancient technology,brought into the digital age is the only answer.It has to be a physical or digital item that makes reproduction impossible.Much like is done on digital visual material.
You want to copy my work illegally then you have to live with that big bullseye that appeared in the middle of the work.

I laugh,insanely,as I retreat to my art hovel and wait for the next mean customer/thief wanna

Katherine Tyrrell
The issue boils down to this

1) Pinterest has terms and conditions which say that you can't pin images unless you own them or you have permission to pin or a licence to use them.

2) Pineterest has a system which does not reinforce those conditions when images are pinned. People are not asked to confirm they own the image or have permission to use it

3) Pinterest has NOT explained copyright anywhere on the site - except in legalese.

4) My guess is that 99 percent of the images on the site do not comply with the condition that members sign up for

5) That leaves all those members liable for copyright infringement (and that can mean financial liability in court cases - which is the logical next step in this unfolding saga) Pinterest exempts itself from liability under safe harbour rules and that condition which members signed up to. I am absolutely convinced there are going to be people sued over this.

6) The Pinterest business model assumes money is going to be made off the content which has been assembled by people who don't know too much about copyright or don't read terms and conditions too carefully.

7) People who create visual images and then sell them are bound to be upset (hence the recent viral storm re copyright and Pinterest) with this sort of approach to the "stock in trade". Outraged is probably a better term....

I've written two blog posts
Pinterest: How to prevent your Blogger images from being pinned
Pinterest: How to prevent your Flickr images from being pinned

Sari Grove
Thank you Katherine for the links...I will get on the Flickr one...Sorry, I dropped an r from your last name...I always expect asymmetry- one of those, two of these- but you have two rs and two ls, which caught me...Last night someone who forges oops I mean copies oops I mean creates original reproductions of famous works followed me on Pinterest...I am thinking of canceling my account- birds of a feather fears...

Katherine Tyrrell
No worry re the mistake with the spelling - people make that particular one all the time and I'm very used to it!

I have an account but absolutely no pins. :)

Marsha Hamby Savage
So, if you were already posting your work there, what would you do? Would you take them down, ask those that have repinned them to take them down... as I think is the only way we can do that. Then upload them with a watermark if you had not already used a watermark?

I have used Katherine's instruction as to the code to post on my blog. I don't have flicker, so don't need to worry about that. I have never watermarked my images ... but suppose that I should think about doing that now.

Thanks for all the help.

Katherine Tyrrell
My personal view would be I'd take them all down and then do nothing - sit tight and wait a while.

It's entirely possible this website has gone straight up like a rocket - and will do what all rockets do - explode and come back down to earth with a thud! ;)

Sari Grove
While we are on topic, I finally figured out how to insert the NOPIN code into a WEEBLY website...It took me two days, so I thought I'd share how here in case anyone uses weebly free or pro...

How to put NOPIN Pinterest code on your Weebly website:(this prevents people from Pinning your images)...
Go to: Settings,
Choose : Search Engine Optimization,
In the place called : Header code,
And in the place called: Footer code,
Insert the following string of code:


Note: for some reason this worked for me when I put the code string into both boxes, the footer code box and the header code box...But you may be able to get away with just one choice...Don't know why I couldn't...

Sari Grove
Oops...the line of code got deleted from my previous comment...well it is just the standard NOPIN code you can get from Pinterest or Katherine Tyrrell's Making a mark blog which is linked above...(Sorry I didn't realize code strings don't work in comments...But the important steps are there)...

Pamela Poole
There are so many upsides to Pinterest that I am frankly wondering why in the world an artist would not want to benefit from it themselves, for their blogs, and for limited art content. There are always going to be those who will find a way to use an image if they want to, and the universe is awash with an overwhelming amount of images right now. I am not vain enough to imagine that it would be the norm for pinners to seek out my website to post my paintings in a way they could profit from.

The benefit for artists in collecting legitimate reference material, helpful blogs on materials and techniques that other artists WANT to share, studio ideas, art books, etc. far outweighs the scare of rare negative scenarios.

The website that I link any of my images to is my FAA site, because they guard the image quality against theft, and they are tech savvy enough to already have a "Pin It" button under my paintings--much as other companies in general are preparing to do in order to keep up with this venue's potential. It is huge, and artist who don't use it will be missing a great opportunity. I also like to use the FAA site because it offers prints and note card sales, so if a pinner likes the image enough, he/she can follow it back to see that they can order it. The traffic it is bringing to my site is great, and I have a potential pool of collectors who never heard of me before. I WANT my blogs to be pinned so that they can help someone. Otherwise, they are just sitting as if in a closet on my websites, waiting on someone to stumble upon them in an internet search.

Pinterest has far more good press than bad, and it is only a matter of time before it will have to clear up the confusion on the member content. I am only pinning things that are intentionally put out there to use, giving credit, and trying to trace every image back to it's source for credit as well. I don't use it if I can't. I also post art business links on pinning etiquette. Artists have a GREAT chance right now to educate the public on why it is important to give credit to the creators of images--an open door they have never, ever had for awareness on this topic!

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- I don't think anyone is suggesting that Pinterest does not have potential. Clearly it does have potential. However, the terms are what they are -- and they happen to be very confusing at this time.

Pinterest is aware of criticism over Terms -- so hopefully they will do some editing and work from there as other sites have done over the years to appease artists and other copyright owners. If they don't -- criticism will likely take a harsh turn. My gut tells me they will do the right thing. Time will tell.

Pamela Poole
Yes, Brian, we're on the same page, I think. I'm referring to artists who are afraid of using Pinterest and have a bunker mentality about it.

By the way, I'm off topic but wanted to take a second to tell you that you are one of my favorite bloggers and sources of art world info, and when I see your name on one I don't skip over it. I usually agree, but always learn something regardless. Thanks for all the efforts to contribute to make artists' lives better!

Katherine Tyrrell
It's news to me that professional artists who have legitimate concerns about copyright infringement - for very good reasons - should be characterised as having a "bunker mentality".

People have different views about Pinterest. It's good to be able to express different views. However IMO I think the last comment misreads the situation.

What I've observed is that those who make things in 3D are much more in favour of it - but then the 2D image does nothing to compromise their product - and is only not helpful if it becomes detached from its originator - which is not uncommon.

However those making art in 2D - and particularly professional photographers - have much more significant concerns.

BTW I've yet to hear of anybody who has sold any art as a result of Pinterest. Anybody want to comment on the actual as opposed to the theoretical benefits?

Sari Grove
This is the Carfac schedule of fees for 2012...
As a for example, here are the rates for a fixed image on the internet:(these are the suggested rates someone should pay an artist for the use of one digital image)...
Up to 10(per work)
45 per month (non-profit org.)

182 per year (non-profit)

93 per month (for profit org.)

366 per year (for profit)

Now, say someone paid you $93 dollars (and these are in Canadian currency btw) a month for the use of one of your jpegs on a website...That would be a very good thing...Some people are getting paid now...This is why putting stuff up for free can hurt other artists who are getting paid for their work-it causes pressure to fold into the whole freebie attitude...very dangerous...

Katherine Tyrrell
Another link which provides the perspective of yet another lawyer on the topic of pinterest and copyright

This time it's from Macworld

Interestingly the lawyer highlights the fact that (and I quote):
* Both Twitter and Facebook encourage sharing personal experiences and photos rather than content created by someone else
* While Facebook users repurpose others' content regularly, Facebook asks each time you upload a photo if you have the permission to use it. The legal burden lies with the original person who posted the photo rather than those who share links to it.
* Pinterest does not ask users to consider permissions before each "pin,"

Brian Sherwin
Katherine -- Correct. Twitter and Facebook would still be massive content-wise if all the potentially infringing material were removed today. In that since, those two services could survive. They have more 'meat on the bone' compared to Pinterest.

I noticed the difference between Facebook and Pinterest with permission as well. As for Pinterest -- that is the still the issue here... there are so many contradictions in Terms. I will say this... when people were upset with deviantART's Terms DA edited terms within a week to appease artists. I really don't know why Pinterest has been so slow on editing Terms.

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- Thanks for your kind words. As for your 'bunker mentality' statement. That is to be expected -- and not necessarily a bad a bad thing -- when you consider that sites like Art4Love (now defunct) have faced hundreds of allegations involving potential infringement.

Not to mention that a Canada-based art/image site recently pulled the plug after a few dozen artists realized their work was being sold as prints on the site without credit or compensation. The #fridaynightartdorks Facebook group worked wonders exposing that. Many artists have an eye out for this kind of thing.

True, Pinterest is not profiting directly from images at this time -- but based on their terms they could. That is why so many artists are concerned. The intentions of the founders might be good overall -- but what if the site were to be sold? The new owner may take advantage of the current terms. You never know...

A few editing changes in terms would make copyright owners more comfortable.

Katherine Tyrrell
I think I can answer that.

I think we have a very disappointed owner who thought he'd just dreamed up a product which was going to make him millions. Instead of which he's come up with something which could now cost him a lot of money and may well jeopardise further investment

This was ALWAYS going to be a business. Like Facebook and Twitter the business model is to establish the usage, bed it down and then start with the income generating activity.

At the moment he's trying to manage the PR and downplay the problem. He only released the meta tag when it was clear the copyright issue had gone viral and was being written about on major news sites.

I'd also note that, when Mark Zuckenberg went too far, members would voice their concerns, Facebook would listen and did respond to concerns.

Brian Sherwin
Also, the fact that Pinterest has offered code to website owners in order to block Pinterest users is a concern for many. Why should a website owner have to include code from another site? Some feel that it is extremely intrusive. Should website owners be expected to include code from other sites? That is iffy.

I realize that some feel that it is a good solution for the problem. One Pinner told me on Facebook that my concerns are a non-issue now because of that code. I'm not sure I like the message it sends though -- it says, "the burden of responsibility falls on YOU... not us.".

Sari Grove
What would be interesting is if artists could sign up with Pinterest and receive royalties if their work was Pinned...

Katherine Tyrrell
What about all the people who
* have never heard of Pinterest,
* have no idea that there is a major copyright problem
* have no awareness of the existence of the meta tag
* haven't got a clue about what to do with the meta tag
etc etc

It is wrong in law to copy without permission or legal remedy and it is wrong to take what is not yours without asking.

NOBODY should have to go to the trouble of defending their sites and their images because of another person's predatory behaviour.

How about if we all went into stores and started taking stuff home to show our friends and family how nice it is - without paying.

Would that be right?

Sari Grove
Gosh Katherine...I have been feeling like the musicians feel about the internet...Their loss of income has been substantial...Visual artists too...On the other hand sometimes I feel that maybe we all deserved this...The plethora of one hit albums with six other songs that were no good, visual artists peddling photographic prints(of paintings) at inflated prices that really involved little extra work by the original artist-maybe we deserved this...
I see so many people who call themselves artists knocking off paintings traced from images gleaned from a camera- the camera is doing all the hard work...Maybe all this copying/stealing is because of the resulting lack of respect for art and artists as a whole...

Brian Sherwin
Sari -- I'm not sure how that would be implemented. Information can -- and will be -- shared. There are protections for that. Pinterest would fall under 'safe harbor' protection IF they get their terms rights.

They also need to work on DMCA according to Connie Mabelson -- according to her Pinterest does not have a 'repeat infringer' policy... which is crucial for protection under DMCA. If they nail those down there would be no need for them to pay anyone if they remove content promptly.

As Mabelson pointed out -- with current Terms and DMCA blunders... someone could potentially prove in court that Pinterest "is a website devoted to inducing, encouraging, facilitating, fostering... infringement".

Hopefully they will get this sorted out soon.

Brian Sherwin
Sari -- Just thinking... since Pinterest has a code that allows website owners to block Pinterest users.... perhaps they could have a code that would allow website owners to become part of a ad revenue sharing network -- so if someone 'pins' something on their site the website owners would get a cut of ad revenue.

Not sure how that would work exactly -- but it is an idea. It would likely involve pop-ups when viewing that 'pinned' content on Pinterest -- or a banner. I'm not exactly a techy -- but I'm sure something like that would be possible. But then you would have people arguing about Pinterest being ad heavy. Not to mention that the revenue could amount to just pennies.

Sari Grove
Was thinking the same thing Brian...Was just looking into my old account...It is a free service (under a certain amount of files) that allows you to sell files of anything you want...You plug in all the descriptives about the file, then it spits out embed codes for your site...You can also have a place in the Payloadz store which is a fun place to browse if you have a minute...(Files on how to do a dolphin sculpture, and other neat stuff by homemade type people for very cheap)...
A link between PayLoadz and Pinterest would allow people to buy digital files of images...(Of course they often come with a statement that you can't share the file, which maybe defeats the purpose- though that is particular to each download...)

Sari Grove
Wait sorry...It was PayLoadz Express that was the free and easy...Same company but here's the link

PayLoadz Express

Katherine Tyrrell
Brian - this is what the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse has to say about "Question: What is contributory infringement?"

(Note The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse collects and analyzes legal complaints about online activity, helping Internet users to know their rights and understand the law.)

Sari - I uphold the right of the artist producing rubbish artwork to enjoy precisely the same benefits of the law as that enjoyed by you and me and the people who sell their artwork for millions of $/£ :)

It's important everybody should be treated equally, There is no question of copyright being determined by how good the artwork is or how it is sold! :D

Sari Grove
Yes, but karma is a b-tch...

Pamela Poole
As the conversation about this is going on in the ArtBiz group in LinkedIn, artists in the the UK are pointing out that they do not have copyright laws like those in the USA, therefore they do not view this the same way. Other countries don't have our laws, either. The point is being made that social media is ahead of the laws, and therefore it will be the laws that will be updated.

Sari Grove
Ugh, law, this law that, it's about a personal gut feeling or ethic...Yesterday a sculptor taught me something important for my metier...Today I was going to Pin one of his most beautiful sculptures onto Pinterest...But I gagged on some sort of a reflex in my stomach- Did he want other artists to see his sculpture, artists who may or probably will want to copy his design? I could not make the assumption on his behalf that he wanted his work on Pinterest, especially seeing as like Etsy it caters to many 'let me do this myself' types...(not that that is wrong in essence)...This was not about law, this was about permission...Etiquette...Courtesy...and the British, the Canadians, the Australians, the Africans are just as big on courtesy as the Persians and the Egyptians...You don't need law to know courtesy...
But again, go with your gut- your Pins seem to be all fine, you're right, they tend to look like things that ask to be Pinned- so your gut was talking to you...
My husband quoted a good law quote to me once: "You'll know it when you see it"...So it's not all Pins and it's not all Pinners...You'll know it when you see it...

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- I've known enough artists from the UK to know that many wish they had the protections that US artists have. Same goes for other countries. In fact, I know a few artists who moved to the US for that very reason.

Katherine Tyrrell
I must confess I've always thought the USA was behind the rest of the world on copyright since it's never got around to adopting The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works - which an awful lot of the rest of the world has.


All my work is copyrighted because it exists - I don't have to register a thing to enjoy legal copyright protection.

Brian Sherwin
I mean... that is kind of like saying that since London artists pay extremely high studio rent -- in general -- we should all accept high rent as well here. Since art dealers in some countries take a higher cut than US art dealers... should we accept it if US dealers start expecting more for that reason? The population of China is huge -- and a lot of art is censored due to the government... does that mean we should accept art censorship here when it happens? Just thinking. :)

Katherine Tyrrell
The conventionally accepted wisdom of a universal system is that it benefits everybody equally and provides for the most efficient and effective method of making copyright work on a global basis - so long as all countries agree to the same basic principles. Which is how the Berne Convention came about. (We do the same thing with nuclear arms treaties - but let's not get on to that topic!)

I've read articles of late where people in Europe have been very bemused by what's been going on re proposals for changes to the American copyright law recently. It genuinely seems to people on this side of the pond as if US politicians think a change to the US law really solves all the problems.

That's not going to happen.......

We may all have different views about the best options for future changes (which tend to vary depending on size of organisation!) - but it's the notion that a locally agreed law solves all the problems for its citizens which is actually the more problematical issue.

Pamela Poole
It's easy to see how things become interesting when social media has global membership but no global laws to guide it. From all the many, many links I've read on the pros/cons concerning Pinterest, I must say that Clint Watson made the point I have most settled into. He said that Pinterest should be 100 percent legal, and the copyright laws are ridiculously restrictive when you can't "pin" an image.

An art marketing advice aquaintance is going to promote Pinterest in her upcoming online book, and recently posted that the fact that no one has been sued over Pinterest is very telling. She feels that if anyone seriously felt it was illegal, there would have been lawsuits within the first month.

I am following Mark Zukerberg on Pinterest, and he is not concerned. He is posting photos without credit, and using google images. Of course, he can afford a lawsuit. I am careful with my pins, trying to use images and blogs that are meant to be shared, giving direct credit to creators of the images, and avoiding google images that can't be traced back to their links.

Sari Grove
1)People said Limewire should be legal too...
2)The fact that no one has been sued is only because it just started...Lawsuits like Class Actions take time to happen...The fact that no one has been sued about something does not indicate lawfullness...
3)Mark Zuckerberg stole Facebook from the Winklevoss twins...He is a total thief and everyone knows it...I wouldn't take his advice on anything regarding copyright, ever...

Pamela Poole
I am only watching Zuckerberg out of curiosity. I wanted to see how he treated the concept of copyrights, considering facebook.

Pinterest has been around since Dec. 2009, over 2 years, without a lawsuit. In the last 2 months, it has exploded. Perhaps the new attention will bring changes, but anyone watching and concerned about copyright has not bothered to sue for what amounts to a significant period in social media.

Sari Grove
*Limewire introduced peer to peer sharing in around 2004ish... The injunction to shut them down happened in 2010...That is 6 years plus...
Considering he stole Facebook, you thought maybe he was going to be crediting artists correctly on PInterest?
Conversations like this one are happening right now all over the net concerning Pinterest...This is how suing begins...

Katherine Tyrrell
Pamela - Can you post the link in which Clint Watson says what you quoted

I think Pinterest has only come to the notice of most people in the last three months or so. see

Was your art marketing advice aquaintance saying what she said before or after the recent explosion of articles by lawyers saying that Pinterest is very much out of order?

Let's make no mistake the lawyers have spotted some juicy pickings.......

Pamela Poole
Lol, no, Sari, I didn't have any expectations about Zuckerberg's pins--I have never been interested enough in him for anything, except to fuss at him out loud at my computer when he makes frequent facebook changes! :-) I know it is difficult to 'talk' over the computer with people you don't know, but I really am only contributing perspective here, not accusing anyone of anything or trying to be confrontational at all.

Katherine, if anything, the new controversy over Pinterest has fueled the desire of the art marketing acquaintance to try to help artists understand that they will be left behind if they are defensive rather than offensive in action to take advantage of Pinterest. She feels that in the long run, there is no cause to be fearful and shut down your account.

That is what I meant earlier about a bunker mentality (my words, not hers, and not meant in any way to offend--it is merely an historical reference that comes to mind, and people eventually got OUT of bunkers to take action). I think it was very short-sighted of the lawyer whose link you posted to shut down her account with Pinterest. There are many pins to be made from places ASKING you to pin them, therefore, your boards do not have to contain anything that anyone would sue over. To condemn Pinterest before waiting to see if they change how their their Terms are written may well reveal whether an artist has vision or not.

Clint's post was on his facebook page, and I think you can see it publicly without being friends. The point he made that I relate to is down into the comments, not the original post. The original addresses the concerns of this very thread in the beginning--that the Terms with Pinterest are the problem, since it seems that when members pin something we have to have permission or we are in violation of it. He is quick to say he thinks Pinterest is great and does not agree with not being able to pin.

Sari Grove
It could work if the Pinnee received a Pin request that they could either approve or disapprove or ignore...It would result in a a time delay, but at least the Pins would be permissible...

Katherine Tyrrell
Well I've just served a "cease and desist" notice on Pinterest re all my images which I discovered on various boards - plus all those images relating to other artists which I had permission to use but which were lifted from my blog

Pinterest removed all images from six domains notified to them within a few minutes.

I'm writing a blog post tomorrow in which I'll reveal what I said to them...... ;)

Let me be clear - so long as people stick to the terms of the membership agreement (which very many don't seem to be aware of) I have absolutely no quibble with Pinterest.

Just so long as people stick to the rules which are you can only pin:
* your own images where you hold the copyright
* images which you have permission to pin or have a licence for

Sari Grove
Thanks Katherine...Out of 5 there are two that I am going to remove...Right on! You are absolutely 100 percent right and thanks for the push-and Brian and Pamela too who helped me to form my own opinion here as we spoke...Sari

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- I'm not against sharing information per se. I'm just saying... Pinterest needs to edit Terms so it is clear that:

1. They are not claiming rights to profit from copyrighted material. Non-profit promotional use is fine -- and standard with websites of that nature in general. Unfortunately, their current Terms make it clear that they can -- if desired... not saying they would -- profit from all site content.

As for filing lawsuits against Pinterest or Pinterest users -- or any company/individual for that matter --... it can be difficult to get a law firm (at this time) to take on a case like that unless images are registered with the US Copyright Office prior to the alleged infringement.

In other words, my guess is that artists who feel 'cheated' here most likely did not register prior to the issue. Most law firms will not take that on because there is no profit in it -- and the case would be a real gamble (and expensive). HOWEVER -- if the Copyright Office gets the ball rolling on Copyright Small Claims... well... we will most likely see lawsuits happen in situations like this.

I'll put it this way -- there was an art site that I helped expose last year. It allegedly uploaded 800 images without the consent of respected copyright owners and offered those images as prints. Nothing ever happened with it. If Copyright Small Claims existed... something would have happened. That said, Pinterest is a different situation in that they do not offer print on demand service -- but the problem for them is that they imply in Terms that they could if they wanted. Again, they need to make a few changes to Terms so that it is clear that the site is about information sharing.

As for the site I mentioned -- some of the images used without permission (and offered as prints) were on the site for years... many of the artists only found out because a few dedicated people started lengthy research after one artist discovered that his work was on the site.

What makes me nervous about Pinterest is that -- under their current Terms -- they could technically offer print on demand. I don't think they would do that -- but their is potential... and who knows what would happen if the owners sold the site. Again, they need to stress non-profit distribution in site promotional form instead of being so open-ended with Terms.

2. Copyright remains with respected owners. There are a few contradictions concerning that within their Terms at this time. In addition to that, others have pointed out that Pinterest may not have DMCA protection due to specific contradictions and lack of required statements. They have had almost a year to get their Terms right.

Brian Sherwin
Clint likes the concept of Pinterest -- and supports the ease of sharing information (as do I). HOWEVER -- I'm willing to bet that he would agree that Pinterest should stress non-profit use of Member Content... as in only using strictly for site promotion. For me that is one of the main issues here. I want them to make some edits and be clear on that.

Brian Sherwin
I also want to stress that I'm not saying 'Don't join Pinterest' (which I believe you still have to have an invite for). I'm just pointing out that the Terms are what they are -- and they are a tad concerning in my opinion. Clearly others feel the same way.

People have been pointing this stuff out -- yet Pinterest has not yet edited Terms or corrected DMCA issues. That concerns me as well -- but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt... at least for now.

Katherine Tyrrell
Why worry about what lawyers may or may not do when it's possible to test out right now what Pinterest will actually do? I'm a great believer in just getting on with it!

My blog post needs to be split in two - here's the link to the first half How Pinterest removed all my pinned images in minutes (#1) which deals with:
* how I found out how to find out just how many images from my websites and blogs had been pinned - without my permission - on Pinterest
* why it's wrong to pin without permission
* how I started to comment on the images in question and ask them whether I should serve a notice!

Part 2 comes up later today - and deals with what I said to Pinterest (minus legal help) in an email - and what happened next.

Watermarks. If you have not been watermarking your images, they've been stolen, reposted, downloaded and used way before Pinterst came along.

Pamela Poole
An artist friend who is also in real estate got me into a workshop last week to help agents market using Pinterest, and today another artist friend in the UK sent this info to download a free book from Hubspot about how businesses should be using it. I have downloaded the book, and if anyone else is interested, here is the link:

Since Etsy shop links posted by artists are to draw users back to their shop, and other pins by artists who have a "pin it" button under their work (like me and other FAA site artists), Pinterest members can assume permission is granted and indeed encouraged for them to pin and allow re-pins.

I am currently researching to find easy places to find royalty-free, public domain, Library of Congress type photos that can be used without concern for violating artist/photographer/brand rights.

Katherine Tyrrell
You can't make that assumption. Some of these sites are providing the button and not giving members the option of opting out. I'm a member of one such site. It would be off my material PDQ if I had the option.

What counts is the copyright notice on the site AND the membership agreement. Do you have permission of the originator to post the image? If you don't you can't pin it.

On the real estate topic, I take it you haven't read these two posts
"The Boston Business Journal stopped using Pinterest one day after setting up its account after realizing it could be sued for images it uploaded to the site. " The images related to real estate.

Pamela Poole
With the Etsy pins, I am referring to users who posted their own work to share and pin, not going to Etsy sites to get them. I've frankly never been on an Etsy site, but have artist friends pinning from there to intentionally attract attention to the site.

I did read the new link when it first came out, but that was before the seminar last Thursday. Since I am not in real estate, I simply wanted to hear what their marketing ideas are. Though they addressed the questions being waded through on copyrights, they suggested linking to your own listings. Those images are provided by the seller and the agent themselves, with no copyright issues. Their excitement is the potential of so many women on the site thinking of homes, looking at and planning home decor and DIY pins, which come from other sites I'm following, like HGTV, Better Homes and Gardens, Real Simple, etc., who target Pinterest users with good ideas to pin on their boards.

Katherine Tyrrell
There's no image about copyright so long as you have written permission as to publication on the Internet and use on the Pinterest site.

I know I'm being picky here - but most of the problems which do occur arise because people "assume" that something is OK and don't play it strictly by the book.

Pamela Poole
:-) I'm among the artists who actually want to be pinned. It is a compliment and good business strategy, and may lead to a sale--perhaps my painting matches the sofa they have pinned on their re-decorating board! Posting paintings on facebook has led to 2 private commissions for me and lots of important networking. It's just my opinion after a LOT of research, but I think all these problems will be handled with Pinterest, and that imagining they will print images is like 99 percent of everything else people worry about--it never comes to pass and is like paying interest on a loan you never took out. But what if they did? Simply look up your pinned images and have them take them down.

Artists and photographers have to decide this for themselves, and I'm all for them blocking their images from pins. It makes ME more accessible! :-D

Brian Sherwin
Just a thought... since Pinterest released a code that allows website owners to 'block' Pinterest users from pinning -- maybe they should have a code that allows website owners to mark their website as 'Pin safe', if you will. As in, Pinterest users will know that the website owner has offered permission to Pin.

Part of the issue here is that Pinners are at risk of being sued. This photographer/lawyer points that out in detail.

Again, it all goes back to the way Terms are written on Pinterest -- which, according to the article places extreme burden on Pinners IF someone does sue Pinterest.

She notes the following: "This “defend and indemnify” stuff means that if some photographer out there decides that he or she does not want you using that photogs images as "inspiration" or otherwise and decides to sue you and Pinterest over your use of that photog's images, you will have to hire a lawyer for yourself and YOU will have to hire a lawyer for Pinterest and fund the costs of defending both of you in court."

Again, the issues all go back to the choice of wording in Terms -- and Pinterest has had over a year to edit that.

Brian Sherwin
I'll add that it is very common for websites to include the 'defend' stuff -- but the problem here is that, again, Pinterest terms have so many contradictions concerning content and what is considered acceptable to 'Pin'. The problem is amplified by the very nature of the site. I suppose that is a larger issues though overall.

"But what if they did? Simply look up your pinned images and have them take them down." Wow, wow, wow. If they did you would not be able to do Jack about it with their terms. That is why people are pissed. Under it they can sell your content if they want. You agree to that by using their site. You might be able to delete content from your account. That does not mean they do not store content elsewhere. That backed up content would still qualify as site content. If you agree to terms they have now you agree that they can sell if they wanted. They could also sell it to another site to use. Which equals transferring the permissions you agreed to. Would you be angry if Pinterest did profit off of your artwork Pamela???

I also had many concerns about Pinterest. Am glad to see the problem's getting so much attention.

John, have you read the Terms and Copyright for Pinterest? The reason I am not concerned at this point is that they are required by law to take down ANY images from the site (not just my account) that the artist/photographer requests them to. Everyone I've heard of doing this says it was done immediately. That means there would not be any images there, backed up or otherwise, for them to copy.

Artists retain copyright to their images in terms of someone printing them for profit, and the bottom line is that Pinterest is not stupid and knows they must get permission from the originator of the image in order to copy it in a way they profit directly from. Profit from the site as a whole where there are an overwhelming amount of images does not constitute profit from my image directly or take any income away from me. Indeed, they are providing a way for me to gain income! :-)

Katherine Tyrrell
Good point Pamela

There's just one problem with that argument though.

The artist first has to know what there images are on the site. Lots of artists have talked about the difficulty of finding them. Until you know the magic source recipe you can't find them.

It's good they take them down immediately. Mine were almost all down in under 30 minutes. Took a day for them all to be located and removed.

However Pinterest could make it easier for people by telling them how they can find out if their images are on the site

I've had lots of people tell me today that they tried the sourcing routine and were amazed - as was I - to find just how many images there are on the site.

Katherine Tyrrell
Sorry that should have been

"The artist first has to know whether their images are on the site"

Brian Sherwin
John -- Which is exactly why Pinterest should re-word Terms.

Pamela -- The problem with that is that Pinterest -- last I checked -- says nothing about how they will handle repeat offenders. Which, according to what I've read, is something they should have listed based on DMCA regulations.

In addition to that, the fact is that Pinterest states that it can sell images. You can say, "But they really don't mean that" -- if they really don't mean that they should, again, make some changes in Terms to be more clear about what they DO mean. They are really not in the position now to avoid making those changes.

Look... it would take only a few minutes to make those needed changes. DeviantART and a number of others sites have had to make changes at one point or the other. What concerns me is that Pinterest instead releases a 'block' code. I'm not a techy -- but I'm guessing it took more time to produce that then it would have took to just make the damn edits already. :)

As for Pinterest making profit in general -- more power to them if they earn profit from ads or links. I just don't want to seem them profit from prints OR to even have that option based on Terms to do so. I want Pinterest to make it clear that they will not sell images.

As for if Pinterest is 'stupid' or not in this regard. All I can say is that I know of two websites that have been shut down in the last year alone because the owners thought it was OK to profit off of prints from images found online. Looking at Pinterest Terms -- and having a basic understanding of DMCA -- I have to question how much they know about copyright in general.

The people have spoken -- a lot of people want Pinterest to make some changes in Terms... if only for it to be less confusing. They should do that... and at this point there really is no excuse. They have already lost some major site users over this -- so the big question is, why have they not made changes to Terms yet?

Brian Sherwin
Think of it this way -- I'm originally from a rural area. Growing up it was not uncommon to see 'trespassers will be shot' signs. Now for some the signs were put up as a joke (dark humor that really said, "Please don't trespass. Thank you.") -- others, I'm not so sure. I'm certain some of those old timers would have shot if someone gave them enough reason. In any case... your average Joe would not risk it.

My point -- 'trespassers will be shot' is a solid statement to declare with a sign. Even if the landowner really does not mean it -- people will take it serious. Especially if they do not know the landowner personally (I don't think anyone here knows the founder of Pinterest personally).

The same can be said for some of the flubs in Pinterest terms. They may not mean all of what they say in Terms -- but people will take it word for word. Sooooooooooooo they should just say what they mean. Be more clear instead of scaring people off.

I hope that made sense -- I do believe it is either coffee time OR pillow time.

Sari Grove
Yes that made sense, though coming from Canada where nobody shoots at nobody because it is too darn cold here and we just don't have that kind of energy, your metaphor requires some imagination on my part...
I feel, as always, that you, Brian, have optimistic expectations of people...Though I am also of that ilk, perhaps the lack of sunshine here has made me more miserable in my scrutiny of others...
I suspect that the terms are written exactly as they were meant to be written...We will shoot you and we will also sell your work as prints...
I don't think there is lack of clarity, merely lack of ethic with a strong drive to cash in on past trends in making large sums from social network advertising or other revenue...
They wrote that script in for the future...The future where they are living large and they have so much money that they can settle out of court for 50 million while still enjoying the life of the idle computer thief geek or some other plunderer's image...
But I digress...You should go to sleep...Have coffee in the morning...It works better that way...Sari

Katherine Tyrrell
Let's be clear - this is a site which is going to be making money. There are a limited number of ways in which it can make money. All of it relates to using the images as ways of getting people to the sites of people who will pay the owner.

If it decides to use pictures ad advertising content and attaches a link to a nice painting of flowers and send those looking at it to a florist that's making money off the painting - that's selling the content.

I'm not saying it would happen - I'm just saying it could happen.

For my part I could see the site working for artists if:
1) only artists were allowed to pin their own paintings (ie these are people who consent to their work being on the site)
2) all links to paintings MUST go back to the artist's own retail/ecommerce site
3) every other user was banned from pinning the paintings and photos on websites made by artists and photographers who want to retain more control over their product

In other words, if paintings are openly treated as products which are specifically advertised online on an ecommerce site - as they would be on Etsy - and pins allowed to those ecommerce sites ONLY - then it could work.

Those who want to sell their work are happy and those who want to protect their work are protected.


Sari Grove
(my) Comments as requested by Katherine:
First...I love you...I think you are great and noble and all that stuff...Your energy and fire is great...Just great...Keep on truckin'! (or some other appropriate cheer)...
Next...I pulled my objects off of Etsy when someone told me that when you put things on Etsy, people tend to use your objects as Do It Yourself guides...The "copying" is actually much deeper than taking a digital image-it is people trying to make something exactly like yours but since you took a year to figure out your mix or whatever, their start-up costs are less, since you did all that figuring out...So then a product comes out way cheaper than yours and you are ok with it or not so much...Either way I felt uncomfortable with the lack of control...
Third...I have noticed that watermarked images really make me think about the fact that images belong to somebody else...Sorry if people hate the look of watermarks, but if you try hard to make a cool logo or brand or something neat, please throw one onto all your online stuff...It really causes one to pause...(Of course they can be removed-but it causes the ethical part of your brain to engage, which is slack so much of the internet surfing time)...(I use Impressions for iPhoto btw on my Mac, and build the logo watermark first using PaintBrush-which means you can upload a tiny image of a work, put your name on it, then use that little image in the Impressions system as a cool watermark...
Fourth...People come in many shapes and sizes...Your solution may not be a one size fits all solution...Obviously there are those who think that everything on the internet is free to use and should be...Because of those people, I would caution artists NOT to put up all their work on the net...Hold something back for reality...Show snippets but not the whole thing...Don't tell all your secrets online...(I am perhaps the person I am berating the most here) judicious with what you put out there...Less is more...Edit or delete content from older sites...Pull back and out maybe...I have deleted entire blogs, websites, unjoined societies, trimmed the fat- much...It is very liberating to limit your net presence once in a while...Sometimes I password protect my website when I am feeling tired...It gives me a weekend's rest where I don't have to wonder who is looking...
In the end, less is more...The less that is out there, the less gambling you are doing...Weed...
Sari Grove

Katherine Tyrrell
Thanks Sari - sorry for the delay in posting my thanks but I was out this afternoon and my email was speeding through and off the front page and I din't know you'd posted until just now!

I know this is an older blog post, but I was researching it since a client brought the issue to my attention and thought I would chime in. I do website, fb, twitter marketing for a very successful handmade jewelry designer.

From Googling the issue, I find tons of blogs with very similar "cut and paste" (Ironic I know) posts about the "dangers" of Pinterest. If anything, the controversy is garnering a lot of traffic to blogs and probably why so many bloggers are posting about this topic.

I can understand the complaints from a photographer's point of view where the image is their art, livelihood and only property. In the case of my client, the image is a photo of her jewelry. If Pinterest started selling jewelry that copied her design and promoted it with her copyrighted image someone "pinned" there would be a problem on several levels. Exposing her designs, driving traffic to her site and further building her brand name recognition through unsolicited/uncompensated consumers is not. Seeing that some of her wholesale resellers not only allow "pinning" but have their own "pinboards" convinced her to allow pinning on her site, even when I offered to remove "pin it" icons and insert "do not pin" code. We do not "pin" ourselves.

My personal opinion from someone old enough to remember the WWW before images, is Pinterest needs to work on its TOS/TOU, but the "urban myth-like" hysteria over this reminds me of people who insist they would never enter their credit card info online to purchase something, but then hand the physical card to a waiter they don't know who leaves their sight for 10 minutes. I also agree with the other poster regarding YouTube, Facebook et. al. If you removed all the copyright violations from YouTube, you would still have some sole owner produced content, but no one would visit the site. YouTube exists simply because anybody can upload videos, yet few of those people upload content that they own 100 percent.

Pamela Poole
Randy, I am glad to see your post, and think you have hit the nail on the head with the "urban myth-like hysteria" over Pinterest. As you mentioned, there is a current movement of "cut and paste" blogs (so funny!)on the "dangers"--though I think this is temporary and may be embarrassing later on. This is like trying to say there should be a law against copy machines.

As for your client with the jewelry decision to make, I understand that one, too, and you presented the point so well. I loaded a few pieces of my own jewelry creations, and followed the pins. One of them was to a board the pinner called "Ideas to Make," or something like that. It was clearly the idea she liked. I was thinking, yes, good luck with that, because you can't see the hook sections underneath that connect the hand-hammered copper links. :-) Anyway, I did not bother to be concerned, since people would pick up my jewelry at shows all the time and say to each other, "You could try to make this." They were not there to buy my work, but to study it. What is the difference in whether they go look at the image on my website to copy my idea or off of a board it is pinned on? And how can Pinterest keep any profit from me by showing a photo of it or even printing it on a board?

Brian Sherwin
RandyH -- You said, "From Googling the issue, I find tons of blogs with very similar "cut and paste" (Ironic I know) posts about the "dangers" of Pinterest." Let me get this straight -- the fact that people have similar concerns about Pinterest means they are 'copy catting' off of each other? Has it crossed your mind that perhaps Pinterest has some glaring issues that should be dealt with -- and that writers have locked on to those specific problems.

You said, "If anything, the controversy is garnering a lot of traffic to blogs and probably why so many bloggers are posting about this topic.". Correction -- some writers don't want to see copyright trampled on... and are very passionate about that. Others simply want Pinterest to 'get it right' -- conflicting wording is not 'getting it right'. There is real concern here... and people will write about it.

Again, my main issue with Pinterest is the fact that Terms -- last I checked... basically state that they can profit off of whatever is uploaded -- and have rights to do so that go beyond mere site promotion. I recall that a blogger had received a response from Pinterest about that... and was basically told 'it really does not mean that'. Fair enough. If that is the case... change the freaking wording already. ;p

Brian Sherwin
Pamela Poole -- I'd suggest that the founders of Pinterest should be embarrassed (and I believe they are). As for your copy machine statement... show me where any copy machine company states that they have the right to profit from whatever you make copies of while using their product. ;p

Again, I'd like to see Pinterest make a few changes to how specific info is worded. There are several conflicting statements. That is the heart of the problem here.

As for sharing content -- I'm all for sharing content if it is non-profit (as in profit is not made directly from prints or what have you). At the same time, I understand why some artists want more control over how their images are distributed online.

Pamela Poole
Brian, my comment about being embarrassing is not intended toward raising an awareness of the concern on Pinterest terms, etc., and my previous comments should have supported that view in context--I should have been more clear yesterday in case others did not go back to see my position on this issue. You are dead on that it is a problem and we all need to work to change it. My suggestion is that some people are later embarrassed at promoting the urban legend scenarios that aim at scaring people into not doing something--as with Randy's example with credit card use over the internet. Good grief, how would artists make a sale without that, yet can you remember all the controversy?

Artists should be creative thinkers. Why aren't we using our knack for vision to find ways to make Pinterest work for us instead of deleting our accounts? There is so much more that Pinterest can be used for, to our great benefit, even if we don't post our images there. My point is that it is very short-sighted and backwards to not see this as an opportunity, not a curse, as so many of the scare-tactic blogs are (in cut/paste method) painting it.

My copy-machine analogy is still correct in my opinion, since the people who make the machine profit from the purchaser, from the ink use, and from the repairs. True, there is no control over how it is used, and illegal copying is done all the time. Though the copy machine company itself did not make profit on the actual copies, as Pinterest might, it still made a profit as a whole.

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- There is a big difference here though. The fear of using credit cards over the Internet did not involve legally binding wording that implies that the credit card owner is giving away rights to the credit card for profit. When you use a credit card online you are not handing over exclusive rights that can be profited from at will and at any point from that time on, so to speak.

Pinterest Terms on the other hand DOES suggest that you are handing over rights that give -- or anyone who happens to buy Pinterest in the future, for example -- them the right to directly profit from content when and if the site owners desire to do so. Again, I'm not saying they would do that -- but the wording is there. They should change it. Apparently Pinterest staffers have said that they would never profit from content in that way... still.... the Terms should state that as well.

I like what Pinterest is doing in general. I'm not saying, "Don't join Pinterest" -- however, I do think people need to know what is currently implied in Terms. There are several major conflicting statements in the TOS agreement. Again, that needs to change.

I don't like that Pinterest has failed to make a few minor changes to Terms. They have had a lot of time to do what is needed. It would have taken less time to do that compared to releasing a 'block' code. deviantART faced a similar problem in the past -- and I seem to recall that DA edited Terms within the first week of outcry.

You said, "Why aren't we using our knack for vision to find ways to make Pinterest work for us instead of deleting our accounts?" That is exactly what I'm doing. I would like to see Pinterest work for everyone... and part of that involves having clear Terms that 'say what they mean' -- and a solid statement that makes it clear that Member Content will only be used for site promotion.

Didn't mean to start an argument or debate.

Brian, my comment regarding the number of blogs covering this did not discount the need to expose, report,educate or debate this issue. If I wasn't clear, my comment was an observation to a number of blogs where bloggers seemed to be copying other bloggers arguments pro or con verbatim without crediting those bloggers. If one authority wants to write a story on Pinterest's TOS pitfalls and have everyone repost and credit the source, then that is one thing. However, my observation was people were spreading the subject without much original thought or even, in some cases, any apparent history or knowledge of TOU/TOS issues. Plagiarizing someone's else blog to argue copyrights and intellectual property rights seemed ironic to me. As we all know, some blogs simply post the most traffic generating "buzz" topic.

Again, I agree Pinterest has issues with it's TOS and every user/artist/consumer/browser must decide if they are comfortable with it. Again, I understand instances where there TOS would be of more concern to some types of artists vs others. If any of my clients told me today they wanted "no pin" coding or icons removed, I would do it without any protest. Where we disagree seems to be with the tone this information is being published. Perhaps this goes back to those bloggers who are simply repeating the "dangers" without much original thought.

I'm viewing it through the eyes of my clients who are not computer wizards and who don't necessarily know the ins and outs of online issues. Sure they need the facts and need to look at the issue seriously from ALL perspectives before making their decision to participate in Pinterest. Posts on discussion boards with headlines like "ALERT!!! Lawyer removes her Pinterest Board after reading the TOS-YOU could be Sued!!!" may get attention but also injects exaggerated fears, especially if the reader doesn't go beyond the headline. I have some clients who insist on sending me access password and username to their hosting accounts across four emails and two different email accounts citing they heard people can steal your password! Account security is important, but it is overkill.

That was the point of the credit card analogy. Too often a stigma or misinformation is placed on online interactions because of sensational headlines and hype. I am not saying that is being done on this blog post, but I see signs of it across the net and from some of my clients initial reactions to other posts regarding Pinterest. Many of the same people pointing out the TOS flaw and vowing to exclude themselves from Pinterest have probably never read the TOS on Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/StumbleUpon/Google etc. And while you can rightfully argue that those TOS do not match or suffer the flaws of Pinterest, there very well may things within those TOS that affect the individual in a different but equally intrusive or damaging way.

I don't have a horse in this race. I don't work for Pinterest and my property is not getting pinned nor do I have a pinboard.

We all agree Pinterest needs to reword its TOS and if all those blogs and scared users gets them to do that, then I guess my argument is lessened. However, if they changed it today would the same attention be spent in blogs and discussion boards on the remedy? Would those who opted out or were scared away return?

Pamela Poole
I am told by an artist working behind the scenes (so to speak) with Pinterest that an eminent photography consultant and author have pulled together some powerful forces to approach Pinterest, and that as soon as tomorrow
Pinterest is "planning to release new terms which address the ownership of materials on Pinterest..I asked but no assurance yet that they will also address the idemnity clauses which are problamatic for Creatives." So we should stay tuned to see if we get what we hope for, or at least an improvement. What we've been working with has been a beta program, and I see tonight that it has changed dramatically in presentation today.

I've suddenly been very busy with several new private commissions and have not been keeping up with all the news on Pinterest as I have been, but I did pick up this link on LinkedIn that shows how powerful it is going to be for art museums and businesses:

Randy, I really appreciate your well-thought-out insights.

Katherine Tyrrell
Randy - we all recognise that there are always people who post as "hangers on". However an approach that generalises on a large scale and suggests that's people who are posting are not adding to the debate is not helpful.

On a personal basis - I've been collecting links to useful posts on the topic and while some certainly repeat and reference what others have said I've found a lot which contribute some original thought of their own.
* Sometimes some people find the content which makes a point.
* Others have a way of rewording the content to make it more accessible to a larger number of people.
* Both approaches are valid in my book. There are far too many people who don't understand that what they are doing is wrong.

I would agree it's also the case that some statements have been made on some blogs by people who really don't understand what they're talking about - but that's no reason to villify the rest!

My site which is being updated on an almost daily basis at the moment is Pinterest and Copyright - for Photographers and Visual Artists. This reviews what Pinterest has said to date, looks at relevant links to the law, provides an overview of numerous different perspectives and provides some helpful tips as to how to protect your images - as well as setting out what I think Pinterest needs to do next.

Yesterday I added in various posts relating to what's been going on re skimlinks - which apparently has been present on the site from the start.

I also added a link to this article in the Washington Post - Pinterest addresses copyright concerns - The Washington Post - in which the company is doing PR for its new look and also says that it believes that it is protected under the safe harbor of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. That suggests to me they have not been reading the various alternative legal opinions that indicate that's not necessarily true.

One aspect I would like to draw to people's attention is contained In the section on "What the Copyright/Plagiarism people have to say" where I highlight some posts which indicate that the stock photography sites - particularly those such as Getty Images - don't even bother with cease and desist notices! Their first notice to an infringing site is an invoice for the fee for the image which has been used without permission. I gather some of these invoices are $1,000 per image.

Is everybody now still feeling comfortable about the source of the images they have pinned?

I've said this elsewhere before, IMO the question of who gets to pin an original image and whether it is with the permission of the copyright holder (or their agent) will ultimately be decided on the basis of invoices presented not takedown notices. Hurt a company where it really hurts - in the bank account - and they really start paying attention.

All of this could be avoided if Pinterest was much more vigourous in its communication with members about the importance of implementing what it requires - ie only upload those images which you own or have permission to post.

and finally - I read yesterday that Ben Silbermann, the founder and CEO had deleted all his own boards. I checked - and he has. That single action speaks volumes to me.......

Katherine Tyrrell
My coding does not seem to have worked.
The link to my site is

The link to stock photography sites serving invoices

This is the link to Ben Silbermann's boards (ie @Ben Silbermann on Pinterest as was)

Katherine Tyrrell
I forgot. The other news is that Pinterest images are hosted on Amazon servers and Amazon has indicated that it's willing to accept DMCA notices in relation to copyright infringements (as they have to do as its their servers which are "serving up" and publishing the images)

See percent11-part-1/ for more on this topic


I wasn't trying to vilify any blogger or commenter. I was simply giving an alternate opinion based on my clients and my experiences. I have obviously added to the discussion since it as elicited such a response.

I commend you for compiling the extensive resource links on your site to inform those who wish to explore the complexities of this issue. I also know from years online that your interest and posting on the subject is to your site's benefit as well. You have a site to draw viewers and make revenue through click thru ads etc. The Pinterest debate is a hot topic (that's what led me here) and your site is capitalizing on that debate. I'm not saying anything is ethically wrong with this, as this is what blogging is all about, just reasserting my initial point that part of the vast amount of information (including the blind copying of other blogs) is in part an attempt to garner blog traffic.

However, I stand by my assertion that many people, including artists read the headlines and stop there. If headlines are sensationalistic then these people walk away without all the information. There are many blogs and discussion board threads that do just that.

I had a client email me a post on an artist board that talked about this topic. It contained the aforementioned headline of "You will get sued" and then briefly parroted what I call "cut and paste" snips of arguments I have read verbatim on numerous blogs. It reminded me of one of those chain spam emails.

I discussed Pinterest and asked my client what she wanted to do, and she admitted to not even reading the post she had forwarded, saying "I thought you needed to know this because everyone is saying it is BAD!"

That was the type attitude I was commenting on.

Another aspect that needs more discussion is the situation one of my client is in. She is a jewelry designer who sells both retail and wholesale. Her resellers often have websites that post her photos of her jewelry. To prevent those images making it to Pinterest would be a difficult undertaking. She also has a "huge" online/catalog reseller that carries and promotes her designs and has a complete social media staff. They not only have a Pinterest Board, but have held "pinning contest" to drive traffic to their site and get items pinned. They have publicly commented on the controversy and are comfortable with the arrangement. Because they have a staff dedicated to social media, they have coordinated tweets, facebook posts and other releases, work with my client to protect her brand, their brand and exclusive arrangements. As an artist, based on your opinion and what you know of Pinterest would you forfeit a six figure a year customer account to prevent your designs from being pinned?

You wrote: "There are far too many people who don't understand that what they are doing is wrong."

I would agree and take it one step further. Far too many people understand what they are doing is wrong and don't care. Anyone that is been on the internet for any length of time has right-clicked a photo and used it as a desktop background. File sharing, bittorrents, napster, limewire, etc. all exist or existed because people want stuff for free. Just yesterday a photographer on DeviantArt posted links within DA itself of other members citing her work as their own. The problem is real, the solutions not as easy. Obviously she reported them and the photos were removed, but had she not found them the theft would have gone undetected.

The recent SOPA legislation was attacked by musicians, artists, computer programmers, web designers and end users not because they were against intellectual property rights protection but because they feared the over reach of such protections. Of course that version of the bill was dropped. I don't want to stray off topic too far, but back to the point about YouTube. If copyright infringed material were taken off, I disagree with the poster saying it would survive. It would survive in the essence that MySpace did. The site would exist with minimal content and few visitors. People feared SOPA would kill the internet and put the controls in the hands of the 6 media giants.

That's the final point I will make regarding Pinterest. I have conceded that their TOS needs to be addressed and altered. I maintain that information is essential, but how that information is disseminated is my concern. As a web design guy, artist, marketer, user of the web, I need the internet to flourish and remain accessible.

My hope is Pinterest will solve this issue to everyone's mutual liking and then we can all blog and post, comment on how voicing our concerns enacted change.

Pamela Poole
Just thought everyone might like to read this from Pinterest about their re-written Terms:

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- Thanks for the link. I will def' have a look. Randy made several good points leading up to you posting that link. Again, I don't think the majority of people are (were) against Pinterest as a service. For most of us it was just a concern over TOS wording. If they have listened to concerns -- and acted upon them -- I'm sure they will receive mostly praise from this point on. I, for one, am not against sharing information online -- but the TOS wording has to be nailed down.

Katherine Tyrrell
I've already done a post analysing what the revised terms say and their implications

see "Pinterest revises TOS and addresses copyright issues: a Primer"

It's progress but it's not the total or final solution to all the problems that people have experienced. The positive thing is that at least they're listening.

I know this is an old post but I wanted to have my say. (As always!)

I have to admit that I haven't read all the posts above. I got about half way down and realized that to read all would take all morning, so apologies if I'm parroting anyone.

I read all about this so-called controversy at the time. My views haven't changed.

We were involved in Pinterest at beta. This doesn't mean that we are in any way connected with them, just that we got an invitation to be one of the first because of our other social media activities. From day one I posted Andy's artwork, which links to our site. We used no watermarks or copyright messages. I continue to do so.

I have read and written a lot about this and I still fail to see how Pinterest can be anything other than positive. We have our images all over the internet, on four of our websites websites and goodness knows how many social platforms.

I've been involved in lots of discussions about this and every time I've said "what is the worst thing that can happen?" The response has always been "people can steal you images". Yes. So? They can take them from hundreds of places on the internet. Why should Pinterest be different?

As Brian pointed out, Facebook's TOS are pretty similar yet people have been uploading images there forever, and of their kids for goodness sake. It's better that someone downloads artwork than some pervert downloading pictures of pretty children.

The reason that sites have the 'publish' thing has nothing to do with publishing a book. It's for advertising. Let's say Pinterest advertised its services (online or in print) with a screenshot of pins. If someone sees that one of those pins is their own, they could sue Pinterest. That's why sites reserve the right to 'publish'.

Mashable, for example, will show a screenshot of Pinterest in its articles. So, if one of my pins is there do I sue Pinterest, Mashable or both. What a mess. The 'publish' clause protects them.

Especially at the time of this controversy, bloggers by the thousands were writing about it, with screenshots. There is no way (to my knowledge) to prevent anyone from downloading images from the internet. In the old days, we could disable right-click but those days are long gone since we all have a prt scr button, or various screen capture software.

The code Pinterest released isn't going to stop anyone from pinning an image, it was just a knee jerk. If I wanted to pin your image,I'd simply download it from your site and upload it to Pinterest.

The problem here is that the image wouldn't lead to YOUR site. At least when people pin your images, they link to your site and isn't that what we want? Site traffic?

We get a lot of hits daily from Pinterest to our site. I believe that outweighs any 'disadvantages'.

Katherine Tyrrell
But the people who don't care about copyright have already been doing just what you indicated! Downloading images and then uploading them to Pinterest - with no link back to the originating site and no accreditation for the artist.

That's just one of the reasons why so many artists were incensed by this site.

That's why it is of fundamental importance that Pinterest should exercise proper quality control. Members should have to confirm, on each upload, that either the image is their own (as required by the membership agreement) or that they have permission to upload it.

Hi Katherine,

Respectfully, I can't agree. If someone downloads one of our images, then uploads it to Pinterest, where's the harm? How does that affect us? Maybe I am naive...

So I prefer to add our images WITH accreditation, and linking to our sites.

I'm missing something, aren't I?

Please let me know what that is. Thank you.

Ronald C. Gillis
I detect a missing ingredient...your approach to your art.My work is drawn from my gut and I care what it looks like,where it goes,with whom it goes,what the frame looks like and I'll be damned if I will put up with any Tom,Dick or Harry running willy nilly across the landscape throwing my images at any board they wish.I have yet to join Pinterest but if I do it will only after my work is copyrighted.Common sense is in very short supply these days.

Ronald C. Gillis
To further clarify,I used the pronoun "you"in a universal way and not you or anyone personally.

Katherine Tyrrell
Jackie - You've come late to the discussion and, I would suggest, need to familiarise with what has been said already so that those who have posted already don't need to repeat themselves. You've already stated you haven't read all the posts to date. Can I suggest you take the time out to read through ALL the posts up above.

Ronald has also added a very succinct and important argument - artists care where their art appears and in what company.

Katherine, I don't expect anyone to have to repeat themselves on my behalf. You answered 'yes' when I asked what I am missing so I shall read every post as you advised to find out.

You reiterated Ronald's remark about where art appears. I don't have that luxury. When a collector buys one of our pieces I usually have no idea what company it will be in. He bought it, it belongs to him now. I'm just thankful that our work sells and we're making a living.

I'm envious of artists who have control. We don't. We have work in a gallery where 99 percent of the other artwork is, in my opinion, not the sort of company we want for our pieces. But our work sells there and I'm not wealthy enough to refuse to show it there simply because of its company.

The gallery owner makes a profit on our work. When we sell work from Pinterest, they don't want a commission. Last week we sold a piece via Facebook and Facebook didn't send me an invoice for their cut. Our gallery prices are the same as our online prices and I'd rather sell from social media and make more money. I'm sorry if this attitude is too commercial but our art is our major source of income and I can't afford to be choosy.

I've never seen our artwork in bad company on the internet. We control our brand very carefully on social media and all our websites. It may be that one or two images have escaped from our control and are in bad company but if so, I can't prevent that any more than I can dictate what other works our gallery owner displays. I have much more control on the internet than I do 'in real life'.

My opinion is that we'd be foolish at this stage not to have our work online. And work that's online is likely to be shared, pinned, retweeted and yes, downloaded. But I'd rather have some control over that and share, pin and tweet the work myself. We have some work available as free e-cards; we encourage people to share our work.

I realize that this may seem foolish and over-commercial but I need to sell our work now, not next year or in ten years time. I'd love it to be otherwise. I'd love to make a living selling artwork from fantastic galleries only. I'm truly happy for those who can. If artists are at a stage in their careers when they can dismiss the internet, that is wonderful and something to aim for. In the meantime, I'll use whatever means I have to put bread on the table.

Marsha Hamby Savage
Jackie, you said it very well. You must determine the best way to get your artwork out there. I believe Pinterest is a good place...and already I am using it. I know you only upload 72 dpi images which deters most from trying to us them without your consent to make money. Making sure there is a link back to you is the most important thing.

I also know Katherine and others are trying to look out for all artists' best interests in making us look at what is going on. Thank you Katherine and Ronald.

Thank you, Marsha. I am certain that Katherine and others here have everyone's interest at heart. I'd just hate anyone to be put off Pinterest and I'm happy to hear that you're using it.

To be honest, it really doesn't matter to me if people try to make money from our uploaded work. As you say, they won't make much from a low-res image. And if I make money, I don't really care if others piggy-back and make money from our work. They aren't selling signed work. (If they fake Andy's signature, that's another matter!)

One of our earliest collectors recently bought another work from us. He had sold the one he already had to a cousin. We didn't know it but it had some meaning to his family. He chuckled as he told us that he owed us a drink because he made money on the sale. His cousin is a notorious tight wad and it amused our client to know that someone had finally made him part with money!

We can't stop a collector making money and we wouldn't want to. We can't stop galleries making money when they sell our work. We want them to. We can't stop charges when someone buys with a credit card. Other people make money from our artwork all the time. As long as we do too, I'm happy :)

Marsha Hamby Savage
Thanks Jackie, you said it well once again! As long as we are making money, then those that make money on it and for us ... well.... that is the way of the world!

Thanks Marsha! I just realized - even Uncle Sam makes money when we sell artwork :)

I followed you on Pinterest from two accounts. It's great to see that you've been re-pinned and 'liked' a lot.

Pamela Poole
Lol, I always shake my head sadly and smile when I see artists putting their work out on the internet and then try to stand over it like a guard dog. As artists, there are some limited protections, but by and large the stark reality is that you can't do business without being on the internet, you can't have a presence without risks, and someone else often makes money off of your work whether you do or not. I also see a lot of arrogance on the part of artists who think their work is so good that someone wants to steal it. Really??? This is true of well-known artists, but for the vast percentage of artists that make up the most of us, that is not the case, no matter how much value we personally have applied to our work. There is such an unlimited depth of images on the internet, and so very many artists and photographers, that sheer numbers defy the probability that someone's work will be copied in a way that deprives them of real income. The advertising and circulation of your name and work is seen by some of us as more beneficial than making it inaccessible out of fear, and for me it is paying off. It is very true that there are some legitimate concerns over copyrights in several arenas for artists, and I am glad for people who are studying them and warning us of possible problems--but ultimately, as an artist, I need to be painting and sharing instead of spending valuable time being a guard dog. I paint for people to see, enjoy, and share the experience.

Bravo Pamela! I did as Katherine suggested and read every post in this topic carefully. And I very much appreciated your comments and insights.

Brian Sherwin
Pamela -- I'll add that guarding your unregistered images is like doing so with a water gun. The images need to be registered with the US Copyright Office if you want real 'teeth' to defend yourself with.

Brian Sherwin
OOooo and Jackie... I'll reach out to you sometime this week about guest writing.

Thanks Brian!

Today, I discovered one of my photographs (that is Getty licensed) that a pinner had used to create derivative work (with a portrait by Annie Leibovitz.) She has entire boards full of works that she has taken from the web, merged and then put her own logo on. When I messaged her that this was not allowed, she responded that any image on Pinterest can be used.

I went to Pinterest Terms and discovered this paragraph:

"b. How Pinterest and other users can use your content

You grant Pinterest and our users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, save, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict other legal rights Pinterest may have to User Content, for example under other licenses. We reserve the right to remove or modify User Content for any reason, including User Content that we believe violates these Terms or our policies."

Elsewhere they say users should respect copyright laws, but does the above paragraph support that?

Is this user in the right as far as Pinterest?

By the way, I've seen some articles say that images used for derivative artwork for personal work is allowed by copyright - is this true?


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