Protect Yourself On Pinterest

Popular digital pin board site Pinterest announced on Saturday that they would be updating their terms of service starting April 6th. The new terms will include a restructured system for reporting images that violate copyright law. Pinterest has been receiving immense pressure from creators in terms of content that is posted without proper reference to the original source. Due to the fact that Pinterest relies so heavily on images and back linking, the need for creators to receive credit for work is vital.

With Pinterest cracking down to avoid potential lawsuits, the likelihood of you getting sued over your “dream wedding” board is slim. However, Pinterest does reserve the right to pull down content that is in violation of copyright laws. Before the updated terms of service roll out on the 6th, here are a few ways to avoid breaking copyright laws on Pinterest.

Cite the Copyright Owner

Since most Pinterest users are not using their boards for commercial purposes, a simple citation can help you avoid any tricky copyright issues. The majority of artists view digital citing to be a proper form of recognition. Just make sure that you are including the original copyright owners information. Citing the individual who you grabbed the image from does not guarantee that they are the copyright owner. If necessary, dig back as much as you need to and find the original creator and include their name and a link to where you can originally find the work. Chances are, unless it is George Lucas or Mark Twain’s ghost, a quick link will protect you from infringement.

Use Your Own Work

This one is a no brainer; if you are posting photos of your own work that you have created, then you possess the copyright. As the owner of said property, you may distribute your content as you see fit. Defining what “original” content is, however, a much more delicate process. If you in some way manipulate or enhance work with a copyright, depending on the level of change you make, you could avoid some issues of legality. If the original owner decides that your work still violates their existing copyright most “derivative” legal quarrels are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Don’t Stress Out About It

Obviously stealing a person’s intellectual property is wrong. However, since most people won’t be selling work from Pinterest, many copyright issues become null. The largest copyright concerns are coming from independent artists selling on sites like Etsy who are not be credited for their work. Chances are most artists and businesses will appreciate the opportunity to have their work spread around. If you include a simple link and citation you will typically be able to avoid any issues. Pinterest also is classified as a service provider and not a content provider. Pinterest allows users to create their own content and at no point advertises itself as a place for original content.

Educate Yourself

Regardless of whether you are a creator or casual Pinterest user, it is good to know the digital copyright laws. Luckily, there are multiple resources available for anyone looking to license their work or just to learn about copyright laws. Creative Commons allows creators to share their work with a variety of licenses that you can find here. The video below is also a great introduction on how copyright laws work and how they can apply to your work.


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