The Personal is Pinnable

At some point this site will go back to simply being AlexandraWrote and not AlexandraWroteAboutPinterestgate. But several things happened in the last two days that remind me, yet again, that Pinterest is just one facet in a larger problem I’ve yet to figure out a name for. Right now, I’m calling it Bob.

Bob began as I tried to source a list for If Emily Posted of companies and sites that gave the OK to pin their content using the PIN IT button. Until I came across one that I know didn’t give permission. Mine.

Behance, who hosts my TYPE A site, has added the PIN IT button to their pages. The way it works is that the portfolio on my website is also featured on Behance (the pins don’t work on my actual site, just the portfolio). I really love the site – it’s like a visual LinkedIn, where artists show their work. My work is under copyright and yet, there is this.

I contacted them about this a few days ago and they responded to say the button is new and they will be discussing my question and then “look into updating our TOS.”

Update their TOS to what? All content is now available to pin, and the person liable will be the pinner. They don’t have permission and neither does Behance.

This isn’t the only site that has adopted the PIN IT button without considering that what they make available isn’t theirs to permit. But pinners don’t know that.

Before I respond to emails and comments that say I should be happy to have potential exposure, that I shouldn’t be online if I don’t want my work out there, I must explain that that isn’t the point. It’s not that I don’t want to share. I put it on the internet.

What I didn’t do was give anyone the right to provide tools that imply they have any rights to my work, and to allow people to share it on Pinterest, which has the right to modify, copy, and sell what is posted.

You might be facing a similar problem but not realize it. YOU.

Do you use Instagram?

The other night a friend of mine tweeted an Instagram via a desktop app that shares IGs on twitter. I went to the site and when the caption came up with her photo, along with it came the PIN IT button.

Third party developers who have created desktop sites to let you view and comment on IG feeds are adding the PIN IT button. Not Instagram.

According to Instagram’s TOS:

“Instagram does NOT claim ANY ownership rights in the ….”Content”…that you post on or through the Instagram Services. By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Instagram Services, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content…”

In their Terms for developers who create Instagram apps, they make the following very clear:

“Remember, Instagram doesn’t own the images – Instagram users do. Although the Instagram APIs can be used to provide you with access to Instagram user photos, neither Instagram’s provision of the Instagram APIs to you nor your use of the Instagram APIs override the photo owners’ requirements and restrictions, which may include “all rights reserved” notices (attached to each photo by default when uploaded to Instagram), Creative Commons licenses or other terms and conditions that may be agreed upon between you and the owners.”

Oh, Bob. The internet doesn’t understand how to use the internet.

I see some pretty personal images posted on Instagram. Pictures of your children, your family, your home, whatever. Now those photos, your photos, can be pinned and repinned and Pinterest can generate revenue from them.I’m not even sure how you’d search for them. Because these companies are adding this button to their sites.

You posted an Instagram because you wanted to share – just as an photographer/artist/blogger shares. But you want to have some control over where it is shared, right? Because it is your content, your art, your IP – whatever you want to call it. It’s yours. That doesn’t make you a credit whore. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to share or shouldn’t be online. It simply means you own the copyright. And you can grant permission to whomever you choose.

The problem is not Pinterest. We need to fix the way we use the web. Understand and respect content.

So, the question is will Pinterest press pause and reset their system so that this mess doesn’t get bigger?

And will you pin responsibly? Pinterest handed you tools and you know what’s wrong. It’s up to us to fix things, too.


29 thoughts on “The Personal is Pinnable

  1. melissadphotography

    Oy, This makes my head hurt.

    Thanks to LINKwithLove’s information campaign, I’ve removed my pins, but I LOVE Pinterest and I want all this to get fixed so I can get back to it.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I’m going to remain on Pinterest, mostly because I think that it only takes a small group of good people to begin to make changes. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. But I’m willing to try.

      1. alexandrawrote Post author

        I really think that we can see this change. That it can be improved and we do not have to accept thenotion that this is the internet of the future.

  2. linzfrentrop

    If you insert your images into your blog using JavaScript they are not pin-able. Although it won’t help with the Instagram pics, its food for thought on your personal blog posts…

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      The code isn’t fixing the problem. Pinterest encourages IP theft when they need to educate. I am happy to share if it’s done ethically. The code forces people to protect work that they shouldn’t have to. It’s already protected by law.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      That code doesn’t prevent pinning, it just makes it impossible to pin from me directly. I think it actually increases the chance of unsourced pins via screen capture and right clicks. Pinterest needs to be an opt in, not an opt out service.

      Also, I can’t apply that code to a site that I don’t own. For instance, I can’t prevent my Instagram photos from being pinned or my images in the Behance portfolio.

  3. Rebecca

    Wow, I for one am glad for all this controversy. I agree we should be resposible pinners, but there are a few out there who just don’t give a “crap” I have gotten a few comment on comments I have made requesting original link on pins – that really made me sad. I even got a comment on a pin that I pinned from Link with Love that I should be glad that my stuff is even being repinned.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      I’m really sorry to have happened upon this Instagram situation, but it just might make those who didn’t understand what we were talking about begin to get it. Copyright and credit is about having the choice as to where your work is found – online or in print.

  4. meighan o'toole (@myloveforyou)

    Thanks for posting about this. The whole thing makes my head hurt. I work for a company that firmly believes in Creative Commons & we have not used the Pin It button because of their ToS. I decided to start doing lots of research around it & what I have found is just troublesome and discerning. I do really love Pinterest & have a ton of fun on there…I have stopped pinning this week…but 100’s of my blog’s images (my own photography & artist’s work) have been pinned. I once was excited…now I am really uneasy.

    I also like that you talk openly about images on the Internet & point out that it’s kind of ass-backwards how people use it. We certainly are still in the wild west. Exciting at times. Frightening around intelectual property.

    Also the code Pinterest supplies is JS and not super easy to install if you use a blogging platform which I do. (Although it looks like it.)

    Anyway, thank you for your thoughtful post. I will share.

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  6. Maegan

    Another problem is in fact, Instagram… I’ve found my own photos from my blog on the popular page with thousands of “likes”, posted by other users! It infuriates me… especially because my exact same photos on MY Instagram don’t get pushed to the popular page. Yet again, someone else getting credit for all my hard work AND my face/image/hair/etc.

    1. alexandrawrote Post author

      This is why I think Pinterest is simply part of the bigger issue – people do not respect or understand IP. Just because you can screenshot doesn’t transfer any rights to use ANYTHING. Sure, Instagram is a public feed,but just because you can see it doesn’t mean it’s yours to use. Why is this concept so hard for people to grasp?

      Also not helpful, those 3rd party apps that make it so easy to filter through IG galleries on a desktop. Chances are that’s where some of your stuff is found, don’t you think? Ugh.

  7. edenland


    I just said that, out loud when I read this post. It makes me sad and heart-heavy. Confession: I never learnt how to use Pinterest. I already piss my time away, and am worried if I go there I’ll never return.

    The Instagram thing makes me STABOLA. The answer is not in the Javascript encoded in your blog to prevent direct pinning … it is in people not pinning and doing the wrong thing to begin with. It’s the mentality.

    Do you think we’re headed towards a time where everything you ever write or post or publish on the internet is just free game? Like, that’s just how it is?

    1. Kasia Gilbert

      Isn’t that what the whole SOPA thing was trying to prevent? I hate the idea of big government and control of so many things but people left to their own devices destroy each other.

      I love Pinterest and when I first started to hear of the controversy over etsy artists work being pinned as DIY I went through and tried in ernest to vett all my pins and repins. If I saw something that I wanted to repin I would visit the original link…if it was etsy I didn’t repin (of course there were some I wanted to BUY 🙂 So those went on their own board…I love etsy shopping!). But if it was indeed a tutorial on a blog then I did repin. But then I think I got lazy. I am not positive I have done a great job making sure I have gotten permission to pin somethings or given the correct credit. I need to take some time and instead of sitting there pinning go through each of my pins and verify that I am not stealing from anyone.

      I see a lot of photographers pinning other’s work for inspo…guilty. I need to contact those artist and see if I can indeed pin them to an inspo board with credit. If they say no, then I do not pin them. Problem there is that I have been using Pinterest as also an easy bookmarking app and if I wait for a response for my permission to pin request then I will have forgotten where it was…emailing it or bookmarking the link are the ways I used to do it and I was using Pinterest to skip those steps.

      Oy. So frustrating for so many reasons. I am a people pleasure by nature though and do not like to upset anyone. I would rather ask permission if it is not explicitly given on a site…and not just that a Pin It button is there but that the “maker” actually states that it is alright to pin content with credit or something like that.

      1. alexandrawrote Post author

        It’s tough. Sometimes it feels like you either spend days/weeks meticulously going through and editing each board or you delete your account. I’m hoping to find a middle ground by deleting any pin I really don’t have a purpose for, and then sourcing the rest. The photo ones are hard. Many photographers aren’t thrilled to find their work on Pinterest, I know that I wouldn’t be. Because generally those images are from private sittings and are used for inspiration but never bring the actual photographer’s work (this is just my opinion). There’s no exposure to be had. So, I’d probably err on th side of caution and bookmark the photos that inspire you the old fashioned way.

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  11. Claire

    I don’t use Instagram as I do not have an iphone – but from what I have seen on there – it is going to get out of hand like Tumblr. Someone tagged my Twitter name in a party photo of 2 drunk girls on Instagram & it was not even me in the photo! I do not even know the photo owner. I couldn’t even get it removed. That could hurt my reputation. I am not impressed with Instagram’s set up.

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