why I’m saying goodbye to pinterest (for now) . blog better

March 9, 2012 separator Blogging

Update 07/24/12: In light of Pinterest’s updated Terms of Use, I am pinning again, but much more carefully. Find out how to pin politely here

As I write this, I have 664 followers on Pinterest. I have 48 carefully-curated boards (48 – dang!), with 1,502 pins. That’s 1,502 photos, projects, products, and ideas that I have saved and shared. 

I’m very attached to my Pinterest, and, like many of you, I’ve lost countless hours to the endless trail of inspiration on the site. I’ve found new blogs, projects, and recipes that I’ve put to good use and probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. 

Here’s the thing though: If you’re anything like me, you don’t typically read the terms of usefor anything. Let’s take iTunes, for example. When it updates its TOU for the fourth time this month, do you read them diligently, or do you just scroll to the bottom, and click ‘accept?’ I’m definitely in the latter category.

Read on for all the details why, in the next couple weeks, after I’ve had a chance to save elsewhere any links I want to keep for future inspiration, I’m deleting my Pinterest account. I am sharing information, not my opinion, so that everyone can make an informed decision regarding their Pinterest use. I love Pinterest and will be back if some precautions and changes are implemented. 

If you want to keep yours, then don’t worry – I’ll have another post soon on proper Pinterest etiquette and tips. It is still fully possible to use Pinterest as its creators intended without violating any copyrights whatsoever, so if that’s how you intend to use it, kudos, and thanks for respecting others’ work! 😀

my beloved Pinterest boards, soon to be no more…

Unfortunately, in the case of Pinterest, skipping – or even skimming – the terms of use can be a brutal mistake. The terms, which were last updated on March 29, 2011, nearly a year ago, are full of little legal landmines.

Let’s take a look at some of the parts that you might find most interesting:

You acknowledge and agree that you are solely responsible for all Member Content that you make available through the Site, Application and Services. 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; and (ii) neither the Member Content nor your posting, uploading, publication, submission or transmittal of the Member Content or Cold Brew Labs’ use of the Member Content (or any portion thereof) on, through or by means of the Site, Application and the Services will infringe, misappropriate or violate a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other proprietary or intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy, or result in the violation of any applicable law or regulation 

That’s pretty wordy, and it’s nowhere near the beginning of TOU, but take a look at those bold portions. Do you own everything you pin? Do you have permission to pin it if you don’t? I certainly don’t…

I personally find it terribly ironic that Pinterest warns against using the site for self-promotion, yet they expect you to pin only images that you own. That seems like something of a catch-22, doesn’t it?

But wait – it gets worse! In the post “Pinterest: Change Your Terms or We’re Leaving,” Kyle points out that by using Pinterest and thereby agreeing to their TOU, you’re giving them permission to sell any images you pin, whether they’re yours or not:

…you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell…

Also be sure to check that post out for the “Pinterest: Change Your Terms or We’re Leaving” graphic that Kyle welcomes you to pin to make your point to Pinterest. 

In the post “Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards,” Kirsten Kowalski, a photographer and lawyer, discusses the legal implications of pinning the artistic works of others without their permission. She also cites Pinterest’s TOU in making the point that if an artist sues Pinterest over something you pinned, then you are legally and financially responsible for representing yourself and Pinterest.

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.

Go read her entire post for a very sound, thorough explanation of a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo that’s over all our heads – you might be glad you did. 

Katherine Tyrrell, an artist and writer, did a two-part series explaining why she, as an artist, does not want her work pinned. She has many valid reasons for not wanting her work to end up spreading across Pinterest like wildfire. If you fall into the category of artist unwillingly pinned, Katherine’s advice can help you get yourself un-pinned quickly. Her articles: “How Pinterest Removed All My Images in Minutes” Part One and “Part Two.”

If Pinterest is going to have such supposedly strict terms of use, then I have to wonder why they allow images to be pinned from Google Image Search, preserving absolutely no credit or original backlink…

For more information and details to help  you make an informed decision regarding your participation in Pinterest, please see the following posts and articles:

There you have it, friends. Those are my thoughts, opinions, insights, and reasons as to why I’m going to give Pinterest the boot. I cannot, in good conscience, continue to participate in the site until they make some pretty significant changes, both out of respect for the originators of the images being pinned and out of legal protection for myself and my blog. 

Bottom Line: I don’t want to violate anybody’s rights or get sued. I just feel safer opting out for awhile.

*Note: This post is intended only to share information I’ve collected regarding the policies, practices, and terms of use for Pinterest. Please do not take anything written here as legal advice. I love the idea and potential of Pinterest, and I will return if some changes are made in the future. 

What are your thoughts after reading what all these people have to say and checking out Pinterest’s TOU?

P.S. Feel free to pin this post to spread the word! ;D


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  3. Youtube also has one of these.. You can get in trouble if you don’t post that you don’t own any of the stuff you’re posting, such as background music which so happens to be your favorite song by Justin Beiber. What I’ve done, after reading the TOU, is posting in my headline on Pinterest, that I don’t own anything that I put out, and that I am merely passing on and promoting other’s work, and whatever copyrights they have are theirs. I have no idea if that will actually keep me from any legal trouble, but I figured it would be worth a shot.. That’s what they do on Youtube. Is this ignorant, or useless, or…? I dont really know. Im not sure using Pinterest is a huge risk, I haven’t heard anything about Pinterest or other users on Pinterest sueing anybody..yet.

  4. I love pinterest but after reading your post I am re considering.. Thank you so much – you have really opened my eyes to this problem.

  5. I, too, find it incredibly ironic that Pinterest says do not self promote, but yet, it appears that a user can only “pin” their own images….
    and yes… they should NOT let images be pinned from a search source (google, etc) without having a link to a source.

  6. I, too, find it incredibly ironic that Pinterest says do not self promote, but yet, it appears that a user can only “pin” their own images….
    and yes… they should NOT let images be pinned from a search source (google, etc) without having a link to a source.

  7. Ugh. Legal mumbo jumbo is right! I am so sad that it has come to this, but like Facebook, I imagine the site will clean up their act! I am most definitely sharing you post! I am going to think about deleting my Pintrest account after this…man…all those inspired hours :s

    Thanks Lindsay.


  8. OMG!! thanks for sharing! this is incredibly scary and now I feel the need to delete my Pinterest account. It doesnt make any sense for them to put such clauses, if the point of the site was to be able to pin things you liked across the internet. Honestly, it sounds like a legal trap, and I feel cheated. But I would hate to lose all my boards. Decisions…
    thanks again for sharing!

    1. They put in such rules to cover their own backsides when picture owners go after them. Make their pinners pay too.

  9. I totally agree. the same /simmilar thing is present at Tumblr. No backlinks, not info of the author, and I know its from XX and not XY who shared it. I don`t really get this people, its almost like stealing, for real. I can`t imagine how they justify this to themselves.

  10. Thank You for sharing, I think they do need to update their terms, but I don’t think anyone will actually get sued. I understand being cautious though. It is a bit peculiar how the whole thing was written, hopefully things can be updated soon!

  11. Everyone – Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, opinions, and experiences!

    To address the comments regarding my account still being active – I actually mentioned in the fourth paragraph up at the top that I’ll be deleting them “in the next couple weeks.” I’ve actually gotten rid of well over half my boards at this point. I would love to be the sort of person to click a button and be done with the whole thing, but I’m rather attached to some of the projects and tutorials I’ve pinned. I want to bookmark them so that I can refer back to them later – then I’ll delete my boards. I’m actually going to keep the account open so that I’m the only person who can have a Pinterest under my own blog name, just to clarify everything.

    As I’ve said, I’m not trying to voice any ill opinions against Pinterest. I love the site and the idea. I shared information from others – and my own insights – so that everyone is fully aware of all the potential implications of pinning. My hope is not that everyone deletes their accounts but rather that they pin more respectfully with a higher level of awareness and concern for the rights of the originators of the content.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everybody’s comments and support!

    – Lindsay

  12. Thanks for sharing! I’m starting to read more about it and I’m feeling torn. I’ll check out the links you provided 🙂

  13. It says right at the beginning that it’s being deleted inthe next two weeks after the links are all saved somewhere…

  14. Yes her account is still active and it will continue to be. She’s not going anywhere. 🙂

  15. “I’m deleting my Pinterest account”…Your account is still active!

    My thoughts are if it links back to the original website, which is what the creators said or implied they intended, then how is it “stealing”. It’s already out on the web! Many sites now include a “pinit” button for sharing purposes which is giving permission to share, yes?

  16. Oh please, what a joke. Clever way to attract attention to yourself, complete with a perfectly pin-able title for everyone to post on Pinterest and link to your blog here for everyone to follow. I see that as of this morning your Pinterest account is still active and you are still Pinning. But hey, sweetie, clever idea… and I will probably follow you on Pinterest and here on your blog just because I am impressed with the creativity of your little stunt. :)~

  17. I never pin anything that doesn’t have a source. I only pin things that link back to permalinks. Incorrect pinning is VERY annoying to say the least. Not only does it completely disregard the owner of the image completely, but it doesn’t allow us to get any information on the photo. A pretty photo with absolutely no content is useless to me. Thank you for writing this post. I wish people would be more careful about how they pin and blog. There are several blogs out there who think it’s ok to just take any image they like, without credit. We all need to be a little more careful.

  18. Thanks for sharing this info. I try to only re-pin pins that are linked directly back to the source and pinned by the original owner. Hence why I only have a few boards and few pins. I totally use pinterest as a form of self-promotion (i.e. I pin my swatches), but try not to do so exclusively. I think this also highlights the importance of watermarking images as I highly recommend anyone putting anything online watermark an image in the center of the image with the full name of your company or URL. It is just one way to protect yourself.

  19. I had no idea. Its funny, the bit about self-promotion. Maybe its not intended for that purpose but I’ve seen article after article giving bloggers advice on generating more traffic and self promotion through Pinterest. Maybe its not from the horses mouth but they sure aren’t doing anything to correct it. Great post, though I hate to hear the news.

  20. I am so glad to read this! I also am a pinterest newbie. I also never read all the verbage of “terms”.
    But I will tell you and anyone new to or expert to pinterest, Try to back track things to an original pinner. In the last week I have had a couple of things….same words different background come by me. And I have had 5 or 6 recipes with different pictures and no two original pinner? Made me wonder why when some of them are using ingredients like “Hershey” cocoa or “Eagle Brand Milk”.
    These made me wonder if those large corporate names are given rights to everyone that wanted to use them to Pin Away!
    I have had wo puzzling issues within my short pinning time….one is when I sign in and do not do it with Facebook I have to enter my ininformation at least twice sometimes 3 or 4 times. Why would anyone want my Facebook information or my friends’? The second issue no one has been able to explain to me…..even those with lots of pinning experience is “how to pin from the last droid” and I have read differing views with Motorola or Apple being hard to get on board with Pinterest? Each of these companies can afford an attorney to defend their rights or the money to develop an app for their devices! I am also baffled by the term “pinmarket” which leads to a private person’s blog! Are they consenting?
    I am going to be a short tern pinner….now how do I delete all this? (Joking)!

  21. Wow, I had no idea! I am so sorry that you are deleting your account, as I am a follower and enjoy viewing your pins; however, based on the information you have provided, I may be deleting my account as well. I did not realize the ramifications, thank you for sharing this. I will pass this info along.


  22. Thanks to share!

    I’m talking about this few days ago on my blog too. Some people first think that I want to sell something, but as you, I think all of this information is really important to share all around in blogsphere.

    I’d delete my account too, and I’d installed a code in my blog, to enable the Pins for my contents. Anyone can’t Pin anything in my blog yet. You can find more information about the No Pin tag on Pinterest’s help page (http://pinterest.com/about/help/) at the bottom under “What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?”

    Hope this can help you too!

    Sweet kisses!


    1. I’m a lil late in seeing this, but there really is no way to prevent people pinning blocked images. Once it is online, you can screen capture, etc. Look at pins of photographs from magazines. I think pinterest is awesome in that is promotes a blog and artist. If people want to be cited, put a logo or site name on the pictures so that no matter where it goes, it will go back to them.

  23. The thing is (and this is just what I learned from my Education classes as to internet copyright and teacher’s rights regarding them) that if you cite it properly you’re ok, if the person gives you permission you’re ok, and if there is no copyright on something that is on the internet, the owner is assuming no copyright rights…So, if you uploaded a photo or document of something and *don’t* say anything like, feel free to download or, please do not download or anything, then you void your rights to then yell at people if they downloaded it supposedly without permission.
    I think the main snafu is that Pinterest assumes the right to sell your pins–which is just plain wrong. That’s the only part that I take issue with- the copyright stuff I don’t think holds up as much without Pinterest selling it.

    1. You are absolutely right– I’m a college prof, & we have seminars on this every semester to avoid jeopardizing the college through copyright violation. Additionally, pretty much every site, including facebook, has the last bit as part of their terms {the right to sell}– that doesn’t mean the individual items, but if the owners of Pinterest were to sell their shares to the whole site, your pins would transfer to the new owner.

    2. Megan, I agree with you regarding citing, though I don’t think that lack of specification is equal to forfeiting copyright. Unfortunately, I do think a lot of people assume such – peril of the internet!

  24. This is crazy! Thanks for putting it in terms I can understand : ) I still kind of feel like I want to keep the account, but definitely not at the risk of getting sued! I’ll be looking into it more, thanks for sharing.



  25. This is very helpful, I’ve been on the fence about deleting my account. Thank you!

  26. The thing that makes me mad is the fact that Pinterest has not yet addressed peoples’ concerns in any way. The longer it takes them to respond, the more I feel like I’ll be leaving the site also. I definitely don’t claim to speak “legal-ese,” but I don’t want to be giving away the rights to photographers’ and artists’ hard work.

  27. Rosario – That’s what I thought, too, but it’s unfortunately not the case. The problem there, I think, is that people can remove the source when they repin from you, the original pinner. Also, I’ve read articles from several photographers who are very upset that their art is pinned, with credit or otherwise. That’s what’s got me so nervous… There’s SUCH a grey area.

    – Lindsay

  28. I read them but I think that you are missinterpreting, I don’t see any problem when we pin something and put the source. Uploading someone else’s picture as my own would be against copyright, but making a reference to it it is not. I mean, if you use a photo from the Scoop Away’s website (even if it states that only contents that are declared as “downloadable”) but put a link to the source here shouldn’t be any problem.
    I mean, you may post something only if 1. it’s yours 2. it doesn’t break copyright terms (which in most cases only require that if reproduced source links are provided).

  29. Thank you for sharing this, Lindsay. I too love my Pinterest but the information you’ve highlighted is nothing short of terrifying. Hmmm.

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