Safely Pin

If you’re a Pinterest lover… you’ve probably noticed the tweets and blog posts about people deleting their accounts and the worry over getting sued for copyright issues. Since Pinterest is so new and grew so darn fast, it’s really unclear whether we’re dealing with copyright issues or not.

I think it’s important to pin responsibly!  I want to share some tips and advice on how to pin responsibly and how to keep your content properly linked back to you… how to link with love….

1. Before you repin…. check the link. For every repin I do…. I click on the linked photo first, to make sure it’s properly linked. If it’s not: I try and find the original source. If I can’t find that link: I don’t repin it. Which SUCKS. There have been some lovely things I’ve wanted to pin so bad… but, I couldn’t find the original image home, so I just don’t pin it. Even though it’s sad… I don’t feel right pinning something that doesn’t have a link back to it’s owner.

2. Make sure each pin you create has a comment. A comment about the image you’re pinning… not just a heart symbol or happy face. Right now it’s unclear about the copyright use of an image you find/use online for Pinterest. I mean… it’s a whole new world. Certain use of copyrighted work may be in the “fair use” category, in this case you have limited rights to use any copyrighted work. “Fair use of a copyrighted work: for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research, is not an infringement of copyright.” I have no idea if commenting on a pinned image covers the fair use or not… but, I just like to make sure I comment on each pin. Might as well cover my butt.

3. Keep your photos safe…. watermark: If you don’t want your photos to disappear into the big ‘ol internets… watermark them. It’s the easiest way to claim a photo as yours. And, yeah: people could/will take your watermark off…. but, those are the crazies. Kind of hard to avoid them. But, I like to believe that people are generally good and never mean to not give credit to the photo owner. But, if it does happen… if they love your image and want to share it: a watermark is great! That way if your photo source is ever lost there will always be “” or whatever your link is on the image. You can do this in Photoshop… and, even in a few free photo sites as well. Plus: I always resize my photos before I upload them to the web. I keep them at 650 wide. Not only does it cut down on load time on my blog… it also means my image is smaller and harder to steal and use.

4. Link with love: If you find an image while surfing online and want to pin it… link with love! Make sure the image you’re pinning is linked to the proper URL. If the image you’re pinning is on a blog that doesn’t own it… just don’t pin it. OR, try and find the original source. Too many times I find that an image is linked to someones tumblr or weheartit site… with no actual link. I just don’t pin from those sites. Plus, when pinning an image I find… I like to post the source URL into the comments.

5. If you don’t want your stuff pinned… make sure it’s clearly stated on your site: You definitely can’t assume that each and every person that wanders onto your blog/site will know you prefer to not be pinned. I am one of those, “Why wouldn’t everyone want their photos pinned?” people. But, the fact is some people just really don’t like it. Especially if it’s a photo of their kid. And, you can also add this simple code onto your site… this code prevents any images on that site to be pinned. How about posting a note in your sidebar: You are Pinterest friendly… or not so Pinterest friendly.

It all comes down to giving credit where credit is due. Treat your pinterest boards as you would your blog. Any image you use on your blog, that you do not own: needs to link to it’s original source. Link with love. Pin with love. I am currently in the process of wandering through all 4,500 of my pins…. and, checking their links. If a photo is not linked properly: I’m deleting it. It’s going to take a while… but, I want to do it.

What are your thoughts on this whole new crazy Pinterest world?

P.S. I feel like I should say that any advice I give is purely my opinion. I am most definitely not providing legal advice. Just hoping to help you all pin with love. If you have any copyright/legal concerns…. seek advice from a lawyer and/or contact Pinterest. K? Hee.

P.S.S. You’re more than welcome to Pin this. My site is very pin friendly as long as credit is properly given.

P.S.S. Here are some buttons you are welcome to right-click and save if you’d like them for your website. 

{Articles I’ve read about this whole Pinterest copyright thing: DDK Portraits and The Wall Street Journal.}


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  • cheryl on said:

    Great advice! I cannot get off of pinterest!!

  • Kelley on said:

    Thanks! I just pinned this so I can let my friends know!

  • little bow on said:

    Thanks for the brilliant summary here, I feel a bit bewildered by the whole thing, its all a bit technically above my skill level, thanks for the advice on watermarking, I hadn't even thought about it for my blog photos!! really appreciate you sharing this! x

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Oh yes. Watermarking is just the easiest way to keep your photos safe.

  • Little Gray Pixel on said:

    I think pinning responsibly is an important practice — and one most bloggers do on a daily basis any time we write about something other than our own content. I do think it's a little insane to single out Pinterest when the problems lie deeper with sites like WeHeartIt and Tumblr, which never ever seem to give credit where it is due.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I completely agree. WeHeartIt and Tumblr never have links. And, it drives me nuttts.

  • dumb mom on said:

    Great post! I think I’ll pin it! I actually have been wroking hard to make my blog more pinnable. Not that anyone is dying to pin dumb mom’s junk, but you know if they want to, I want to make it as easy as possible. And I feel weird about people pinning pics of my kids. I mean, why would you even want to? They are cute as heck, bust still, feels weird. But, you can pin pics of my dog or my post titles all day!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Ha ha! You have lots of stuff to pin. So, I just got a plugin for WordPress. It puts a pin it button on every post. And, you can take it off certain posts if you don't want to encourage pinning. (like photos of the kiddos).

  • The Bearded Iris on said:

    Thank you so much, Chelsey! This is FANTASTIC information and I love your buttons! You’ve inspired me to clean up my pins and pin more responsibly moving forward.

  • pattilouwho on said:

    Thanks so much for pinning this. I am off to go start making sure my pins are sourced properly. Love your blog, by the way. 🙂

  • Laura on said:

    Very well put! I try to pin from the original source as much as possible because I want to give credit where credit's due. 🙂

  • Emily S. on said:

    Thanks for the info! I feel a little bit better about Pinterest, now. I, too, wondered if I should delete my account.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Yeah. I wasn't sure if I was going to delete or not. BUT, I feel like as long as I do what I can to give credit where it's due…. I'll be ok. I think. 🙂

  • Candy on said:

    Thanks for your tips, they are all very helpful. And a good reminder. Even though I usually go to the original source to check before pinning, I sometimes get lazy. Also, I ought to watermark my own pics for my blog, although I usually think 'who would want to steal my pics anyway'. But I should do it to be on the safe side. Thanks again.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      There are some real crazy people… who knows why they would take them. But, they do. :/

  • Some Girl on said:

    Thanks so much for sharing the "Pinterest Friendly" Images! I will be sure to use them on my blogs 🙂

  • Kiki on said:

    I completely agree with your thoughts on Pinterest. Thank you so much for the cute Pinterest buttons! Such a great idea and I'm so glad you're sharing it. Thanks again!

  • Sadie on said:

    Great advice! I knew this conversation was bound to come up when I first found Pinterest last year. I am uncertain yet whether I want to watermark all my photos on my new blog. How do you watermark yours?

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I use Photoshop. But, you can do it on a bunch of free photo sites. I think you can do it in photo bucket. 🙂

  • torie on said:

    The problem is I know so many people on Facebook who use Pinterest, don't blog, nor do they read blogs, and do not do the Twitter. so they are kind of out of the social networking scene. It will be hard for everyone to be aware of this. But I do agree with you. Sometimes I forget to check the link so I probably have a ton of "going no where" pins. Oops

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Yes. Maybe some sort of tutorial before you start on Pinterest would help!

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  • mamapier on said:

    Thank you for this! I've actually been doing a photo challenge and pinning my photos and have noticed that people have repinned my
    images 🙁 I've started watermarking my photos and will be more careful when I pin others' images as well! It's upsetting.

  • Mandy Chiappini on said:

    I totally agree with everything you said. I was not surprised at all to hear about all of the controversy about Pinterest and the copyright issues. I am not really THAT upset because after all, I have a very public blog and by opening up my blog/pictures to anyone who stumbles across it, I'm doing that knowing that people will be pinning my photos. Or just plain stealing them. That is why I ALWAYS watermark. It's not just so much about pinning to me, as it is posting pictures responsibly. It's a chance we all take by posting pictures in public places. Bottom line – if you don't want someone taking your photos, don't post them. Wow thats a book I just wrote. Ha ha.
    Great post lady!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I completely agree. It's hard to expect the photos you share online to not wander off your site. If its in a public format… Blogs/photographer sites…. I think people should know their images will be shared on other sites. It just happens. That's why you need to take all the steps you can to protect your photo in this big 'ol Internet world. Protecting a photo: starts with the owner of the photo I think.

  • kmgoff30 on said:

    Thank you! That was very well put! I will definitely pin this because my number one annoyance is the lack of 'linkability' of pictures people link!

  • Just Jenn on said:

    Great post! For some reason, I haven't heard about this problem. I am with you, though. I always want a working link on everything I pin. There is no reason to have something pinned if you have no clue how to make / get it. I complain all of the time about how people don't link correctly.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      It can be so frustrating. But, I think just spreading the word and reminding people to check their links will help. I've found many pins are linked to spam/scam websites. Definitely don't want to direct anyone to those.

  • Amanda on said:

    Thanks for posting this! I think you bring up some really good points that would be easy to overlook. And I like that you assume the best out of people…..that's refreshing!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I just think of people that aren't bloggers and don't spend a good chunk of their life online…. like my mom, Don't know they're doing anything wrong.. She wouldn't have known if I didn't tell her.

  • courtney @ larking. on said:

    Thanks for your $.02 on this — I definitely understand the issues some folks are having with Pinterest (especially when it comes to professional photography), but mostly it seems like a great way for bloggers to get some publicity, especially when people pin their recipe or tutorial posts — they're already sharing them with the world on their blog, right? I've found some of my favorite blogs via pinterest! Anyway, copyright infringement is no joke, so it always helps to be careful…thanks for the pointers.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Oh yes. And, it's mostly just people that have no idea that they are walking towards copyright infringement. when i first started pinterest last year…. I just pinned everything I saw! Never checked the sources. Never thought about the link not working right. Which is why I'm now wandering back through my old pins…. So many.

  • Sonja on said:

    This is really great. I recently deleted my Pinterest after realizing that I couldn't trace MOST of my pins back to their original source and felt pretty frustrated and depressed about it – not just because of potential copyright infringement, but because I *wanted* to credit the original source and simply couldn't! (I watermark all of my images for this reason – not because I fear someone stealing them, but so that credit doesn't get lost in the shuffle).

    Deleting my account was definitely a bit impulsive, and I'd absolutely like to get back into Pinterest at some point, but I've been thinking a lot about these issues of copyright and attribution and it's really great to see other bloggers working through the same thoughts I've been having!

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      I went through the "should I delete my account thing"…. And, I just couldn't. Pinterest has been an amazing tool for blog. I love it.

  • Lily Beltain on said:

    I'm glad you pin from the original source. I'm not a blogger, but I use pinterest on a daily basis (somewhat addicted!) and it drives me mad when I find a pin of an item/photo I love and can't find out any more about it! I love to know who took the photo or where Ican buy the items in question 🙁 I think if used responsibly it can be a great way to get your blog out there to other readers. I've found many a new blog through pinterest.

    • The Paper Mama on said:

      Yes. It's a wonderful site. I think each user needs to be a responsible pinner…. To keep it a lovely site. 🙂 I find some lovely blogs through pinterest too.

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