Pinterest – whose image is it anyway?

Pinterest logo

So an awful lot of us have been getting into Pinterest lately. For those not yet signed up, Pinterest lets you ‘pin’ images from around the web, sort them into ‘boards’ (themed by interests such as crafts, music, art, style etc) adding your own comments, sharing them with your followers and vice versa. According to stats published in Monday’s Metro, Pinterest now has 11.7m users worldwide. with 200,000 users in Britain. Its trajectory of growth makes it one of the fastest growing social networking sites ever. What’s not to love?

I’ve read two articles recently that pose fairly serious questions about copyright and ownership around images shared on Pinterest. According to this article by, Pinterest’s service agreement ‘gives it the right to sell images that users upload’. Here’s the fine print laid out on Pinterest’s site:

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.”

So basically you’re granting these guys at Cold Brew Labs the right to use your images in any way they wish, forever and ever. And what if you upload someone elses’s images that had previously not featured on Pinterest? I have just created a board called Sewing Friends Super Creations, wherein I pin pics of fabulous projects from blogs I follow and love. (I should add I also provide a link back to your blog!) Is that wrong now? Will my sewing chums worry that their images will be abused or used in some nefarious way?

There is a way to protect your blog images from being used. Pinterest has provided a line of code here that you can add to your site  if you don’t want your pics to be pinned.

I for one, won’t be using this code. I’m pretty relaxed about content-sharing, especially within the sewing blogosphere. I’ve never heard of anyone trying to pass someone’s else’s work or art off as their own. But what do you think? Would you prefer your images not to be shared and distributed, with little or no reference back to your site/blog? Do you sell your projects online, and worry that perhaps attribution may be lost as your images are shared over and over? Does it bother you that your image is being put out there by people you don’t really know?

I’d also be interested to hear from you if you’d prefer me not to share images from your blog as I’d hate to offend anyone!