Writers Beware of Pinterest

Everywhere I turn I hear about Pinterest. “It’s good for your business.” “What? You’re not on Pinterest. What are you a caveman?” I would just like to inform those people that first, I’m not a caveman and second, I strongly believe Pinterest is a website where people steal images for followers. I actually had a co-worker brag about the thousands of followers she has on Pinterest. I’ll give her the benefit of a doubt that the images she pins have permission, but I’m sure that’s highly unlikely.

Okay, I’m I being harsh? Maybe a little, but the truth is you can get sued for pining a photo that is not yours. So I think being harsh is justified.

Recently I was part of uncovering a scandal known as “TrestleGate“. After the crazy battle I ended up knowing a lot more about art theft. So here are some bullet points.

I know that I cannot use anything on this blog without permission from the artist or sole owner of the art.

I know that I cannot make book covers from art I find on google search.

I know that if I created an image I don’t want other people to use and I have the rights to it, I can sue them for it.

If you ask for permission and don’t get a response, you are still stealing.

The worst thing is if you look at Pinterest terms and agreement they put everything onto the user. Onto you.

“You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold Cold Brew Labs, its officers, directors, employees and agents, harmless from and against any claims, liabilities, damages, losses, and expenses, including, without limitation, reasonable legal and accounting fees, arising out of or in any way connected with (i) your access to or use of the Site, Application, Services or Site Content, (ii) your Member Content, or (iii) your violation of these Terms.”

How many Pinterest users know copyright laws? Probably very few. They like the fact that showing their interest can impress people. I don’t blame them, but when you look again at it, it’s basically whomever can steal the best images get the most followers. It’s designed for you to steal.

I also learned that artist love giving away permission for free – only if they had been ask. The images you well find here are from Kay Peers. With her permission we use her images – because I asked. Many others are more than willing, they just don’t like it when it’s been stolen.

Pinterest is aware of the issue. And if you read this so are you. So be careful what you agree to in the terms and agreement, not knowing could get you in trouble.

Here are some other articles, a little more in depth about the subject I suggest you read: “A Lawyer Who Is Also A Photographer Just Deleted All Her Pinterest Boards Out Of Fear” , “Pinterest Might Be Enabling Massive Copyright Theft

-L. Vera



  1. Thanks! Good info!

  2. Didn’t you just use the pinterest logo, copyrighted material, without permission?

    • Taken from their images that they release to the public and press to use. All images here will be from press releases or with artist permission. 🙂 Nice try.

  3. You make good point Luis. But much like the old “home taping is killing the music industry” is this really enforceable? If 1000’s of folk are, like me, grabbing images off the net willy nilly is it possible they can clamp down? I mean the point is Pinteresters aren’t making money from their pins they are giving publicity surely?

    I am Pinterest user and you have me worried….

    • I said the same thing about napster yet I was actually part of the first thousand users who were banned by Metallica. I’ve hated them since.

      But it’s really up to the artist. Many of artist don’t have the capabilities to sue and because of that it just gets harder for them to protect their work. But big companies don’t care or if they decide to sue can mean a big deal. Will another powerhouse like Metallica do something, only time will tell.

  4. Pinterest?

    Damn, caveman I am.

    And after a quick look it doesn’t interest me at all…

  5. Timely reminder to be careful. I have just had a warning from LinkedIn for posting a pic, I would guess it was flagged as not licensed for use. This was a picture I had seen on pinterest- I didn’t pin it- I had already picked it up from a “royalty free for all uses” site. Having seen the picture twice in 24 hours I thought I was safe in using it. Yes, I am certain it was the same picture- One of library shelves. Yes- a generic picture of very normal looking library shelves! It wasn’t flagged for inappropriate content, that’s for sure.

  6. I submit that the premise is overstated. When one “pins” an image, while it is transported it from the creator’s domain, one doesn’t treat the image as if it were one’s own. Attribution is applied. The practice is, therefore, rather more plastic a region than that of “stealing”. Please, pin my images! It may lead to more traffic on my site. Otherwise, I would take steps to protect them or even refrain from posting them.

    • But it’s the same if I stole an image and used it here without permission on this site. Even if I linked it, i’m using it without permission. Just because I provide a person traffic, doesn’t really matter. I can’t assume that person would be okay with it because it benefits them.

      That’s just how it works. If you click on the links I reference to they go into more detail.

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