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, the 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 for that blogger to learn a very valuable lesson.  However, she is providing immense value to the internet community by sharing her story. While there’s no need for you to panic, we can all learn from her mistake.

Don’t Just Google It

The first thing to note, based on her own account, is that this blogger found the image in question on Google and used it on her site without permission.  She then shared her blog across multiple social media channels, including Pinterest, which populated the “stolen” image.  

We can completely understand why she thought it was OK to use the image to begin with because it does feel like “everyone is doing it.”  She also figured if anyone did say something, she could just take it down.  

Unfortunately, Googling a random image and using it for your own online channels is never OK. You wouldn’t be alone if this is news to you!  We have advised many clients about the appropriate use of images on their websites and social media platforms.  “Saving Image As” and “Copy Image” is a copyright infringement in most cases.

Avoiding Copyright Infringements

Fortunately, 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.  Social sharing should be fairly safe, as long as you remember the following 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 source.

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 re-pinning 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, 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.  Aside from the great content, we also recommend the up-and-coming site,, for it’s very cool editing wizard.  Check it out!  
3.  Always get written permission to use stand alone images that are not your own or not from an open domain source.  We recommend naming your source and giving 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 before sharing on your own channels.  Pinterest sums it up pretty succinctly: “Don’t infringe anyone’s intellectual property, privacy or other rights.”  In other words, be respectful and use common sense.  

Lastly, when in doubt, simply don’t use the image at all 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,
* Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be considered legal advice.

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