Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Panic Over Pinterest Copyright Issues by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Follow Me on Pinterest

If you've signed up to use Pinterest and you've seen people posting things saying that it violates copyright laws to repin and post images and/or videos, don't panic and delete your account. Instead, realize that Pinterest still has its benefits, but you may have to alter the way you use Pinterest. You may need to delete some boards or only a few images from your boards. If you haven't started a Pinterest account, but have been toying with the idea, below are a few suggestions.

What Is Pinterest?
In the site's own description, it's a virtual pinboard, allowing people to pin images and videos of things they love and organize them in categories to share inspiration and get creative ideas from planning weddings, taking vacations, to cooking and organizing one's house to save space. It's limitless. I've created boards for my new book releases, other boards for books and movies I recommend, historic places I've enjoyed visiting and things of interest such as lighthouses.

Agreement of Use
According to Pinterest's agreement of use policy, YOU are responsible and must have legal and sole right to post, pin, repin all member content that you choose to interact with. If you want to read an article that goes into more detail, here's one I originally saw posted on Robin Lee Hatcher's Facebook page, entitled Why I Tearfully Deleted my Pinterest Inspiration Boards. Also, here is a link to Pinterest's Copyright page and they also have a page on Etiquette.

Their etiquette page says to avoid self-promotion. I don't have a problem posting a board with my book releases. If it was the only board I had posted, then I would be solely promoting myself, but I'm promoting other things I like on other boards I've created and that is what Pinterest is about.

If we are limited to only posting our own images, then we're also limiting ourselves to only sharing our personal blog posts and experiences. Isn't this another form of self-promotion? Yes, it's indirect self-promotion. For instance, I've created a story board for Highland Sanctuary. I posted images from my personal blog and wikipedia where I knew them to be from the public domain. This board isn't about me, but about my story and the research that went into creating it. Likewise, not all of my blog posts are about me and my writing. I write inspirational devotions, promote other historical Christian fiction, and write about my historical research and historical places I visit. These are things of interest to me. My Pinterest boards are a visual extension of these interests.  

The Deal
You shouldn't be posting any images or videos you don't already own the copyright to or that isn't in the public domain to ANY place on the web whether it be Pinterest, your blog, or other social media sites. If you're a blogger, then you probably already have a set of rules you abide by, and you should stick to those same rules when using Pinterest, but make sure your rules are updated and don't infringe on copyright laws. Remember, the web is worldwide, and various countries have different copyright laws.

Can you post a link to an image on Amazon and/or Barnes Noble or some other book store? We authors do it all the time whenever we interview or review an author's work. Amazon even provides widgets for this. If you've agreed to intereview, review, or participate on a blog tour such as CFBA or the First Wild Card Book Tour, then you can pin these book cover images to Pinterest either from your personal blog or the original tour site itself.

Use discretion
If you 're pinning images and videos from other websites where you haven't requested permission or you don't even know where they got their images and videos, you're taking a huge risk. If you want to embed a YouTube video, check to see if the embed option has been enabled or disabled. If the Channel owner doesn't want their video  posted elsewhere, they will often disable the option. If they later decide to disable this option after they've enabled it and you've already shared it, your embedded code won't work and it will become a black box in that spot on your site.

Still, it is always safer to ask. Lot's of people have contacted me to repost things from my personal blog, and believe me, it is always appreciated. I would never consider it a bother or an irritation, so don't worry about that. If you're unsure, ask.

What about you? Are you on Pinterest? What are your posting rules for your blog and social media accounts? Have you had any copyright issues?


Cheryl said...

Now I feel I should go through Pinterest and delete a bunch of things, but why be a member if you can't show people what your interests are?

I use stock photos that I pay for on my blogs, but like you mentioned, I use Amazon and publishers' sites when I interview authors.

No copyright issues so far, but you never know how things will go.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...


I think it would be worth an afternoon to browse through your boards if you've posted lots of things from different places. It's a good thing to b aware of moving forward--and a good reminder for our blog posts.

I do believe some of the copyright laws need to be updated regarding new technologies and more clearly defined, as well as between countries since it's worldwide.

Krysti said...

There was a followup post from the same photographer/lawyer who wrote the post about deleting her boards from Pinterest.

She had an hour-long conversation with Ben, the man who owns Pinterest, about the conflicting legal language in the TOU, and her concerns regarding legal liability. She said he promised there would be changes to the TOU, but she didn't specify what they would be.

You can read her follow-up post here:

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Krysti, Thanks for posting the follow-up info. It would be great for them to clarify some things.

Krysti said...

One thing that really bothers me about this discussion is the concern I have that most folks don't understand the nature of pins. Pins are like online bookmarks associated with images. When you pin something on Pinterest, the original address of that image stays with it, through no matter how many re-pinnings or embeddings occur afterwards.

Basically, Pinterest is all about people sharing bookmarks with images with other people. I'm not sure why anyone is objecting to this! Although I do understand the legal concerns, I have to wonder who decided it was so fuss-worthy.

I am unsure now what to do with most of the stuff I have re-pinned from other people's boards, but in the interests of saving time, I will probably just delete most of my boards willy-nilly. The only pins that I can in good conscience say that I know where they came from are pins to images, etc. that I have created myself. Which is, like the lawyer said, also against the TOU. They took a lot of time to create. I felt comfortable having them up as long as they didn't constitute the vast majority of my pins, but if I delete everything else, then I will probably delete them too. But thoughts of deleting them makes me cranky! I'm sure others are also having that reaction.

Anne Love said...

It seems like a hobby gardener who posts a picture of a flower in the back yard is just that--a hobbyist, not a professional photographer self promoting his/her business, using Pinterest to advertise. Likewise, it seems a homemaker who loves to cook can post a recipe, if she's not Paula Dean trying to sell her name, etc. The article posted was a discussion between professional photographers, not hobbyists or great home cooks.

Author Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Krysti, I'm sure you're not alone. I wouldn't want to delete my boards either and at this point, I don't plan to.

Anne, Great point abt the professionals vs the hobbyists. I assure you, if I post ANYTHING abt cooking, it's purely hobby or experiment.