What You Absolutely Must Know to Use Pinterest Safely

Yes, it’s all the buzz.

But did you catch the recent article in Boston Business Journal about how you could get sued for using Pinterest?

Or this one from ReadWriteWeb about just exactly how it is that Pinterest doesn’t get in trouble for copyright violations when they allow users to share your content?

Want to know how creative bloggers feel about you pinning their stuff?  Here’s a blogger’s perspective from Amy of LivingLocurto.com.

Here, photographer Sean Locke discusses exactly what part of Pinterest violates a photographer’s copyright and how it’s different from Google image search (which has been ruled legal in court battles).

On the other side, here’s an amazing argument from Trey of StuckInCustoms.com not for why violating copyright on Pinterest is okay, but for why photographers (and other creatives) should embrace sharing their images.

So what are those of us who want to use Pinterest, but don’t want to violate copyrights, to do?

I am NOT a lawyer, nor do I pretend to be one on the internet.  So do your own research and if you’ve got questions you may want to seek real legal advice.  But here’s the rules I’m going to play by to keep myself as safe as possible.

1.  Only upload images you have the rights to.

If you don’t own it or have permission to share it on Pinterest, don’t upload it.  Period.  This is part of the Pinterest Terms of Service you agreed to when you created your account.

For graphics designers, if we create something for a client and the rights transferred to them (like logos) then we need their permission before we upload those images to share.  Since Pinterest takes the rights to share and even sell what we upload it’s not the same to feature it in your own website portfolio as it is to upload it to a Pinterest board you’re using as a portfolio.  (Note: Since the original date I posted this blog, Pinterest has updated it terms and this no longer applies. Yay!  But it’s still important to get permission before you share something you’ve created for someone else.)

It’s really the same as your blog or any other website.  You can only upload content that’s yours or that you have permission to use.

2.  Make sure all images I upload link to their source.

If I’m sharing something I’ve created it, it links back to me, of course!  This is how we can generate traffic from Pinterest.

If I’m sharing something I got permission to share from someone else, then I’ll make sure they’re listed and linked as the source.

3.  Check the source links when re-pinning.

Check that link and make sure it’s not from a Google images search but that it’s linking to the original owner.   If I’m re-pinning, I didn’t upload it originally, but it’s just being a good netizen to check for that credit link.

4.  Report infringement and violations when I see them.

If you see an image you know is copyrighted and not okay to use on Pinterest, report it.  If you see something hateful or obscene, it’s against Pinterest terms, so please report it.

5.  Don’t use Pinterest solely to self-promote.

It’s not what Pinterest is for.  Share awesome stuff.  But don’t pin only images of your products, links to your blog posts or ebooks, etc.

There are ways you can use it to build your credibility and make personal connections with people.  Do that.

Do you want real legal advice?

Oh, and if you want advice from a real lawyer, please take time to read this post from Sara of SavingForSomeday.com who IS a real lawyer with a legal degree and everything.  ;)  It has great tips on how to stay safe on Pinterest as a user.

Within the next few weeks I’ll be doing more research on how Pinterest affects us not as users but as bloggers and what we need to do to stay safe when it’s super easy for others to share our content.

And now, pardon me while I go re-check everything I’ve pinned, since I’ve got rules for myself after all this research.

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  1. I knew you’d do a great post on this! Thanks for the articles. I’ve been trying to make sure that I link the images back to their original sources, but it’s difficult to find them sometimes. I do fall flat on that, and have no pinned some things because of it. Thanks for the reminder!
    Amethyst recently posted… Top 3 Ways to Beautify Your BusinessMy Profile

  2. Thanks for sharing these great tips. It will be interesting to see how Pinterest changes things considering how fast it’s taken off already.
    Nicole Bandes recently posted… Facebook Fan Page Tips Anyone Can DoMy Profile

  3. Thanks for this important perspective on what we pin. Now I’ve got to go back and check that I’m playing safe on this rollercoaster. In the meantime, I have 2 questions:

    First, please recommend an acceptable fraction of pins linked to my blog.

    Second, please rank these in terms of effective engagement: comments, likes, re-pins, and follow-up messages on Facebook or Twitter.
    Robbie Schlosser recently posted… What Makes Professional Experience Valuable for Wedding and Party Music?My Profile

  4. When I pin someone else’ image, I always make sure that they get all the credit. These are awesome tips Michelle
    Herbert recently posted… Blogging with Ease Using ShortcutBloggingMy Profile

  5. Great post, it’s going to be interesting with the very fast rise in popularity in Pinterest how it all plays out. I’ve been dabbling in it for a couple months and just been wondering what path people who don;t want to share the credit for are going to be taking us all down
    mike recently posted… Social Media FragmentationMy Profile

  6. I am new to Pinterest, many thanks to let as know how to use safely the Pinterest. We all get
    benefit from this tips.

  7. Great info Michelle!

    I have recently got onto Pinterest, and all this is surely news to me. While I do agree about giving credit or linking only to the main source of the photograph, I wonder how can we keep a check on each photograph we come across to see if it’s linked correctly? That would be too time consuming. I hope Pinterest comes up with some restriction where people would not be allowed to pin pictures from any other place, except where its legally permitted. May be they would come up with such things in due course of time.

    Thanks for sharing :)
    Harleena Singh recently posted… Easy Ways to Achieve WellnessMy Profile

  8. Great information, Michelle – I’ve noticed that Pinterest has suddenly gotten much more popular, so your post is very timely – thank you! ~ Suerae
    Suerae Stein recently posted… Fab Foto Friday – Water DropletsMy Profile

  9. Great post! I love Pinterest and using it with clients to understand their style. I would love to see a post on Pinterest self-promotion etiquette!
    Janice recently posted… Win a Bluebonnet Mini Session {Janice Reyes Photography}My Profile

  10. Thank you. I went to Sara’s blog and tweeted/Facebooked (is that a verb?) her blog post on staying safe. Now I have to find the time to to back and look at what I have pinned. Most of them are repins. Sigh, nothing is ever easy anymore.
    Alana recently posted… Civil War Sunday-Hate in Virginia Cancels My TripMy Profile

  11. I’ve yet to dive into Pinterest, just ready a HubSpot report about it and your post (as always) was very timely & helpful. It’s always good to give credit where credit is due. Sounds like it may be a little tricky with Pinterest. There’s always something new to learn.
    Thanks @Michelle.
    Debra Jason recently posted… Are You Playing the Blame Game?My Profile

  12. Great advice Michelle! I had just joined Pnterest and find it fun. Although I have not used it long enough to get into trouble, I am glad to have read your post! So far, when I have the time, I will go to check out what others have posted that I am interested in, mostly nature scenes and have re-pinned. I am still trying to figure out what to use it for, but since I got a decent camera, I will try out my photography skills! (hoping to learn some!)
    Rusty recently posted… Mistakes, Blunders and Boo BoosMy Profile

  13. Certainly, Pinterest is fast emerging as a social networking platform people love to spend time with. The visual bookmarking tool is all the rage with online marketers, particularly those that manufacture products. However, Pinterest can be equally useful to those who are not retailers. Regardless of the type of business you run, you can also share images to share your company’s work culture, employee status and things that carry on behind the scenes.

    Pinterest can be plenty of fun, when you abide by the best practices and guidelines to avoid any kind of discrepancies in future. The articles makes some interesting points on how to take a safer approach to using Pinterest to your benefits.

    Thanks for the tips, Michelle!
    Obaidul Haque recently posted… A Four Step Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Grow Your BlogMy Profile

  14. thanks for bringing this to our notice, i have not really taking thought of using pinterest, i am going to give it a trial.
    bloggingtips recently posted… 4 Reasons Why You Should Comment on High Page Rank BlogsMy Profile

  15. Michelle,

    There has certainly been a lot of buzz around Pinterest lately. When I first saw my daughter using it several months ago I knew it was a mater of tie before the marketers (on a mass scale) got wind of it. And isn’t it a shame how markters can ruin a good thing.

    Well it seems that Pinterest is trying hard to avoid that with their rules and TOC…as well as they should. It is also interesting how there are stories of people taking down their sites out of fear of being sued. I’m still watching it closely for the human interaction concepts intrigue me.

    Ken Pickard
    The Network Dad
    Ken Pickard recently posted… 10 Quick Tips To Increase Your Productivity Part 2My Profile

  16. This was chock full of useful content … all of your posts are. There are always kinks to work out with any new venture and it’s no different with Pinterest. Forewarned is Forearmed.
    Thanks for helping us to be successful marketers on the ever changing world wide web.
    Adalia John recently posted… 10 Movies Featuring Successful WomenMy Profile

  17. I added this to pinterest-I hope that’s ok. I’m very concerned with giving proper credit (and not getting in trouble!) I love pinterest and have found so many new blogs to follow through it.

    1. and also, I love your pink hair =) I have pink hair too.

  18. There are some great tools also that are going to be coming out within the next months, this is a trend that will be coming about, something like http://www.pinerly.com would probably be worth noting.

    Hope that helps,


  19. Thank you for mentioning my article about Pinterest.

    Much gratitude,
    Sara at Saving For Someday recently posted… Walgreens Deals 3/4-3/10My Profile

    1. Happy to share it — very helpful article. :)

  20. I am so excited to learn more about Pinterest and helping my blog! This is going to be awesome!
    Stephanie recently posted… goldsilverfactorMy Profile

  21. I have removed a lot of my boards on Pinterest. I loved it, but have not been back, dreading the job of removing my pins and more boards. I will start it over and do the things you mentioned. Building my business is important but I did not want to lose it due to a site like Pinterest. Thanks for such good information!
    katlupe recently posted… Our Birds Return HomeMy Profile

  22. As I don’t know how to use pinterest. This post teaches me a lot. With the help of this post I’ll be able to use images in Pinterest.
    Ayesha recently posted… Five best SEO keywords selector toolsMy Profile

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