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Pinterest directly addressing copyright issues

Pinterest and copyright violations

Although Pinterest is a visual curation of bookmarking photos and websites, it is being considered publication, so content creators, photographers, news outlets and the like are seeing their copyrighted materials popping up on Pinterest and lawyers are itching around the collar. The wildly popular site has a very complex situation when it comes to copyrights, as encouraging consumers to only share images from their computer that they own the rights to will shrink their growth, so they won’t do that, nor should they – these same pictures are shared on Facebook a thousand times over next to links to a news story or photo source, with the industry not batting an eye that that equates to copyright violation.

In response to the swelling fears of copyrights being violated by users and publishers wondering the long term effect of ignoring what they feel is copyright violations, Pinterest will be taking steps to address the issue head on. According to, Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, they will be offering a line of code for any website that does not want their content to be pinned. When a user attempts to pin content from the site, a message will tell them “This site doesn’t allow pinning to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!”

The code does not prohibit any user from downloading images from the sites and uploading them directly to Pinterest, nor does it disallow the ability to hack your way into a pin from the site.

“I question how many sites will use this code, given the popularity of Pinterest, but Pinterest is trying to address copyright issues in a proactive way,” wrote.

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It appears that companies have a basic misunderstanding of the web, and that is completely common – the same pictures being shared on Pinterest with alarm are being shared on Facebook and Twitter with the only difference being a clear excerpt and title next to the photo, yet executives celebrate the same content shared on Facebook and panic when shared on Pinterest. This fear will not likely fade soon, so Pinterest is smart to give sites an opt-out feature.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Maureen McCabe

    February 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Nice gesture but will will it cut down the content shared giving credit to Google Image Search? #2 source of content on Pinterest is from Google Image search (?), #4 source is from Tumblr sites, A Tumblr site which got the image from another Tumblr site, which got the image from another Tumblr site which perhaps got the image from a professional photographer's site or an artist's site, or Google Image Search. A photographer, artist, archive etc. who does not want their content shared or can not share because they don't own it needs code to ward off more than just Pinterest, don't they?

  2. Sara at Saving For Someday

    February 21, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Thank you for sharing this update. I'm not sure it's the best solution, but it's a start.

  3. Wayne Harriman

    February 21, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Perhaps they should have made the ability to pin images from a site opt-in instead of opt-out, but it's always been easier to ask forgiveness that get permission. Seems to me this line of code is just a "finger in the dike" fix. Too bad we couldn't get a copyright attorney's take on all this!

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