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Watch out for the Pinterest Police...They are Vicious!

This is crazy! I got an e-mail today from Pinterest saying that a complaint had been filed against me for an image I'd pinned. They removed the pin from my board, and I have no problem with that. What's bugging me is that, according to the e-mail, I either have to prove that the complainer has no copyrights to the image, or I get a 'strike against my Pinterest account'.

What the heck??? I pinned an image from a blog I follow. It was not the person's website. How on earth would I have known that the person didn't want their stuff pinned? This really stinks.... I don't care about the pin, I care about getting cyber-slapped for something that Pinterest encourages - PINNING!!!

I remember when Pinterest first started. I wondered how it could be possible for people to pin things randomly. I thought it would create quite the firestorm. How the heck are you supposed to know what you can pin, and what you can't pin? And how can Pinterest slap anyone's wrist when you pin things, and then someone complains? There's something totally wrong with this picture. Pinterest can't have it both ways.

Has anyone else experienced something like this?

1694 Responses

Wow! I don't use Pinterest but, that does sound ridiculous when this site is all about pinning!
It's craazy. Sorry it happened to you.
wow that is so strange! I thought that is what pinterest was for, pinning things you like
my exact sentiment! I didn't you could get in trouble for pinning something. WOW.
Hmmm...that is pretty strange. I'd be super confused too!
Yeah, that's what I was thinking Gwynne. And why not just tell me that particular image isn't available for pinning? What's with the strong-arm tactic and the 'strike against my account'???
If you read their terms closely, you are only allowed to pin images with the copyright holder's permission. People often indicate that this is o.k. with them by adding a "pin it" button below their images.

If that button is not there, you either need to own the image or obtain permission. You can't just assume the copyright holder won't mind. As you have just found out, they sometimes do.
How about the Pin it button on the Upper left side?
Hoping someone can chime in with more info because I'm with Janet - I totally don't get it. Pinterest encourages us (and boy is that understating it) to pin anything and everything. If we're not supposed to..... what's the point of Pinterest??

Anybody know any more about this?
Actually if you take the time to read the fine print (it is small and VERY long) it tells you NOT to pin anything other than your own images.

Then it gives off this image to pin everything EXCEPT your stuff, but legally Pinterest covered their butts in the fine print.
IDK if I can give a link to the exact laws on this and Pinterests fine print. Just search "Pinterest Lawsuit' or "How you can get Sued for Using Pinterest." and you should find the good articles that outline this word for word. Pinterest wrote the fine print in order to put ALL THE blame on the users!
wow they don't let you write much anymore in comments. Check this out how pinterest makes money off your pins and how you sign the blame right onto yourself & away from them with the little check box:

"In other words, if you upload an image that doesn't belong to you and Pinterest sells it, you could be sued for copyright infringement.""
Yes, while the fine print says don't pin anything except your images, the Pinterest police will also come after you for self promoting too much. I have gotten that email and so has several others. I started only pinning from inside of Pinterest and alternate from my own site(s). Pin one of theirs, pin one of mine. It's stupid but many of us saw this would happen.
What does not make any sense, is you can share anything on the internet, as long as you " share " the content and it contains the original link back to the original item. You might want to try reminding Pinterest of that AND if they removed the original link, that's on them, not you.
Wow that is really odd. I didn't know that about the fine print. I had heard the opposite actually - that you were NOT supposed to pin your own stuff very much or you could get kicked off of Pinterest. Talk about mixed messages.
Mixed messages? You just didn't read the fine print like almost everyone else when they sign up for a website. I don't blame you at all for that, these TOS disclaimers are the size of a service manual for a Boeing 747 and just slightly LESS entertaining
This is weird. While I don't use Pinterest much, the whole idea was to pin things we like, so that the person who owns it lock, stock and barrel, can benefit and make a sale, or receive a service request. Is this letter legit and not some spoof? Also, if two Etsy sellers would decide to pin each-other's items to boost views, is this no longer allowed; or only if both know about it?
"What does not make any sense, is you can share anything on the internet, as long as you " share " the content and it contains the original link back to the original item."

Unfortunately, you're 100% wrong. "Sharing" copyrighted media on the Internet without the copyright holder's permission is still copyright infringement, even if you link back to the original, even if you credit the owner…
… the guy who started Pinterest, unfortunately, wasn't aware of this fact at first.

sacramento.cbslocal.com/2012/11/02/pint

articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-03-15/business/35447213_1_ben-silb...

ddkportraits.com/v2/2012/03/pinterests-new-terms-of-use-came-out-bu...

mashable.com/2012/03/21/pinterest-copyright-legal-issues/
Websites that allow users to upload media usually have TOS stating users are 100% responsible for the content they upload, and warn not to upload content you don't have rights to publish, to be compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and have protection under it's "Safe Harbor" provisions.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_Copyright_Infringement_Liability_Limit...
I'm not saying Pinterest is one, but a lot of sites downplay that to their users (by being vague or inconsistent) because (IMHO) the bottom line is they want the site to be popular and/or generate a ton of money, and that illicit content will continue to contribute towards that up until the rights holder finally (if ever) stumbles on it and requests it be removed.
Great info Jen!

We are quite the opposite regarding our item images,
we put our name on our images and if someone shares the image to Pinterest or anywhere else, it acts as free advertising for us.
If you're a photographer, your photo IS your product, not an ad for your product. If you make a living licensing your images to other people to use on or offline, having your photos posted online somewhere without your permission equals theft.

Some people might consider it free advertising, but (even if it's an item photo) others prefer to decide when, where & how their products are advertised
I've gotten this message for a couple pins that I shared, but the email didn't say I was being penalized for it.

Maybe there's a difference between sharing a pin and creating an original pin?
From the email

"Again, this complaint was not directed at you, or anything you did: we just thought you'd like to know why we removed your Pin."
I'm new to Pinterest but if a blog didn't have the "pinterest button" I wouldn't pin it...not that I know how to if there isn't a button.
I'd be upset too if I got slapped for something like that.
Hugs.
If you have a Pinterest account you can add a Pin It button to your bookmarks bar or task bar, then all you have to do is click that.
Yeah but I think some images are still unpinnable - I have tried with various websites with my bookmarked Pin it button and I just get blocked or the image doesn't come up.
There's a code Pinterest offers that you can add to your blog or website which will make your imagines unpinnable but not many people know about or use it!
This isn't enough actually since the blog may or may not have gotten permission to use the image in question.
I think I pinned the image back in November. Just recently the complainer added a note to the pin with her website address. I even thanked her for adding that information!

If she didn't want me to pin the image at all, why didn't she just send me a message thru Pinterest right then and there and tell me to delete the pin???
Probably because they aren't very smart or don't own the image. lol :)
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Inactive Etsy Member 10:35am Jul 31, 2013 EDT
I have to ask you what did you do... did you upload the image from your computer (having it saved from that blog you mentioned) or did you you just repinned it? Or did you use the bookmarklet?

Because I think there's a difference to what the source is.. I think the problem might have been from connecting to the source..
No, the source itself does not matter.
As it turns out, I learned that you can't just pin anyone's image without their permission - contrary to what Pinterest would have you think!
That's shady of them, they do this because nobody would use their service and they'd tank if this became known about Pinterist. The only interest I'd have in Pinterist is selling my items from here, but I refuse to use them, because if that's my only interest, I become a living breathing spam bot, I don't respond to spam bots so I'd be a fool to think anyone would respond to me. (Respond = sale)
Wow, that is crazy. I am not big on Pinterest and this makes me wary :(
Same here....there is a likelihood they got reprimanded by some copyright lawyers, and now they are trying to roll it over onto the members. I thought the whole idea was to pin anything you like from the Internet. One more reason for me to not use their services, at least not until they clarify these things.
I agree. I use it but it is the one social media that I do not like to use. It is very tricky and sensitive.
You have never been allowed to pin things that you do not either own the rights to or have prior permission from the copyright holder to do so. This is why I got so upset when etsy added the pin it buttons and made it so we could not turn them off.
I agree Brad! For many many Etsy sellers, Pinterest is a bad idea to try to promote your items, and I've seen many times where a store's item is on a board titled DIY.
Yep! Whenever I see pictures of my jewelry, it's almost always on a "jewelry ideas" board. Not so great for bringing in business. I just keep creating. My mind never stops so even if a few ideas are stolen from me I just move on to the next. It's not worth it. Now if a big company steals my ideas that's another story...
If I were a big company, I'd go to the "jewelry ideas" boards and take the ideas straight from there.
I guess I do learn something new every day. I was completely duped by the pin-for-all link between etsy and pinterest, figured there's a button there, why not use it. Good to know.
If this has always been the case, then Pinterest should NEVER have made a "pin it" button, which allows you pin things from anywhere on the web.

I understand, also, how artists and photographers feel about "their art being stolen" but how is pinning something, with St least a hope of the link staying in tact, any worse or different from anyone with internet access being able to right click
And save the image to their computer? Or taking a screenshot? Not everything is done maliciously... If someone wanted to steal your work, they're still going to. Unfortunately.

The issue here though is that Pinterest is
making the pinner responsible for doing the very thing that they encourage.
That's interesting Brad. So are you saying that everyone should contact everyone before pinning anything to get their permission to pin their image?

If that's true, why does Pinterest (and yeah, okay, Etsy too) make it so easy to pin images from just about anywhere?
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Inactive Etsy Member 5:44pm Jun 16, 2013 EDT
When you pin something directly from Etsy, the pin on Pinterest automatically has a link back to the item for sale. That helps the seller. Sometimes when you randomly pin something it does not have a link back and that can hurt the seller. People can think that the pin is a stock photo. You are not allowed to pin something without a URL link that you do not own. BUT>>> The seller always has the right to not want their things on Pinterest (I don't see why not) but as for the strikes thing... I just always make sure that my pins go back to the original page through a link.
I try to do this too, Lorin. I think of it as being a helpful promotion for an etsy seller when I like their stuff and pin it. I do, however, remove the price to avoid anyone hassling the seller in case it is seen years later and prices have been increased.
(I'd just like to say - once again - how much I dislike nested comments. People who are currently posting at the end of this thread will most likely not see this part of the converstion).

Lorin and Jackie, you're not necessarily 'helping' other sellers by pinning their items. You may not understand why someone wouldn't want their things to appear on Pinterest, but it's up to the seller to
decide how/when/where to market their items - not you. Also, just because you include the link when you pin, that doesn't mean that the link is going to stay there for long. Most of the time it does not. And you have no control over whether or not the next pinner will keep the link.

Deleting the price is not relevant. The link won't last for 'years'.
Lorin and Jackie, I hope you both will continue reading a little further into this thread. I hope you'll read how this story turns around as I come to a better understanding of how pinning really hurts artists and photographers. I hope you'll learn about copyright and the truth about how Pinterest is built upon Pinterest's blatant abuse of copyright and passes the blame onto unsuspecting pinners
Janet, I totally agree with you, now that I think about it, that a seller should have the right to chose whether or not his/ her items be pinned to some promo website. But the point I am confused about is, then why were websites like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, etc., allowed to operate, to begin with? Don't they all work according to the same principle of "I like it, therefore I share it?"

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