Pinterest and Copyrights

Pinterest and Copyrights

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A client of ours emailed us this week about copyrights and using Pinterest.  An avid and successful Pinner, she was quite concerned after reading an article describing a truly unfortunate situation.

In the article, a blogger describes how she made the unwitting mistake of using an image she found randomly on Google on her website.  The photographer who took the picture came across her site and the end result was a copyright infringement lawsuit.

Needless to say, our client was a little spooked and wanted to make sure she was doing everything above board.

This was certainly a hard way to learn a very valuable lesson and this blogger is providing immense value to the internet community by sharing her story. We can all learn from this mistake.

Fortunately, there’s also no reason to panic.

Don’t Just Google It

The first thing to note, based on her own account, is that this blogger found the image on Google and used it on her site without permission.  She then shared her blog across multiple social media channels, which populated the “stolen” image.  I can completely understand why she thought this was OK.  It seems like “everyone is doing it” and if anyone did say anything she could just take it down.  We have had to advise many clients about appropriate image use.  Googling a random image and using it for your own on-line channels is never OK.

Avoiding Copyright Infringements

However, when you are sharing information/content in the way of pins and the like on social media, the practices are a little looser.  It doesn’t mean caution is thrown to the wind, but sharing is generally a widespread practice and goes fine as long as you remember these few helpful tips:

1. When you share or pin content from a website that is not your own, let the post/pin (along with the image that populates) track back to the original website.

For example, as you can see in the image below, this Pin from is from the original source.
Pinterest and Copyright Image from a Pin
By repinning or pinning this image from their website, we are not taking credit for the content or using the image to promote our own work.  We’re sharing so that others can visit their site to explore this content further.
2.  Only use purchased, licensed, or copyright-free photos OR your own photos on your website, blog, or social media posts that don’t include a URL back to the original source.
Here are some awesome free sources for images, in case you’re wondering where to look:
By the way, while not free, we use Shutterstock for our image sources because of the enormous selection and quality.
3.  Always get written permission to use stand alone images that are not your own or not from an open domain source.  It’s then recommended to name your source and give the author credit for their work.

Play It Extra Safe

As an extra layer of precaution, only pin from sites who have made it easy to share.  You’ll know who they are by looking for the “Share This” or “Add This” buttons.

It’s also important to review the policies of the sites you’re using for sharing.  Pinterest sums it up pretty succinctly: “Don’t infringe anyone’s intellectual property, privacy or other rights.”

Lastly, when in doubt, don’t use the image or consult with a legal expert.

Happy Pinning

So, again, don’t panic or close your Pinterest account yet.  Just keep in mind that sharing is fantastic, but using other’s photos without permission for your own promotion is not.

-Jenny Green, Co-Owner @ Fisher Green Creative,
* Disclosure: This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice.

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