Pinterest, Copyright, Confusion . . .


This Mother & Child photo is the lucky result of a roadside stop to take a photo of this horse . . .


It took 15 minutes to get her to turn around, and meanwhile, a little sheep family ran up in the field across the highway. They wanted tp know what I was saying to the horse.


Of course, once I spotted the baby, I grabbed my telephoto lens for the portrait of Mom and Baby.

This all took place along a highway on the way to Fredericksburg, Texas, and a Llama and Shetland pony were involved too.

So what does this have to do with Pinterest and Copyright, etc.?

After yesterday’s post, I got email from many of you who are excited by Pinterest, got a request in Comments for a little how-to, and another reader sent along a link she found while searching for Pinterest, which brought up some copyright issues.

I thought maybe, I could address all that, but could not think of any photos to go with the topic, so you get to meet the folks above.

And, I guess these photos are on topic because, when I post them in this blog post and have given you permission to Pin them, they enter the fray of confusion about copyright and Pinterest.

The confusion is well founded because, in the act of pinning to a public board on Pinterest, you are republishing an image without permission – unless, you have been given permission via a Pin It button on a website, or a statement of permission as I posted last time.

Now, the Fair Use section of current USA Copyright Law says something like this:

Copyrighted work can only be used without permission when someone is criticizing it, commenting on it, reporting on it, teaching about it, or conducting research.

I am no lawyer, but it seems to me that when you Pin an image, and type your comment to go with it, you could be doing any of the above. Certainly, you are commenting on it, and I have yet to see a Comment that was not singing praises (although I have read that there are snarky folks on Pinterest too.)

I have said this in conversations we have had about copyright in the past: Copyright Law is about money. It takes a long time and a lot of money to get a copyright case to court, and when you do, you have to show that economic harm has been done to you in order to win it – that someone else is making money with your image, and therefore, harming your ability to make money with that image. End of story. Nobody gives a hoot about your pride of ownership or hurt feelings. Were you harmed economically? Otherwise, go home and quit wasting the court’s time.

Having people come to your blog or website or Etsy shop because your image has been shared on Pinterest, would not be considered economic harm. Quite the contrary, in fact.

If you are not publicly posting your images on the web for attention in the first place, then why are you doing it? So, the more attention, the better, right?

People are busting their humps trying to figure out how to gain followers and customers and visitors for their sites. Pinterest is a very good way to do that.

With those thoughts in mind, here are some tips on being an upstanding Pinner who is not lilkely to get in trouble:

Pinterest Tips

When Pinning from a blog or website, be sure there is no notice on the site or on the image saying that Pinning is not allowed. Those notices are usually quite evident.

Look for a “Pin It” button on the site or blog and you know it’s alright.

The biggest problems on Pinterest come from Re-Pinning. When you are viewing the boards you follow, there will be a Re-Pin button on each item. By clicking it, you pin that item to your own board. ALWAYS add your own comment to stick with Fair Use sharing principles.

Unfortunately, the source of that image may not have been pinned correctly.

BEFORE repinning, click the image to go through to the source. Make sure the source is a direct connect to the creator of the image – their blog, website, etc. If you click through and land on Google images, Flicker pages that do not belong to the originator, or Tumblr pages that are not the artist’s own page, DO NOT repin.

If you really like and want to pin the image to your own board, Google search the artist’s name and find the source of the image that way. Pin from that page and you will be linking to the artist.

DO NOT copy/paste the whole tutorial, recipe, story, article, etc. in your pin. That is prime territory for trouble. Remember that Pins are reminders and you are MEANT to click through to the source.

To make your boards really interesting – and to call attention to your own creations, Pin your own content. Strangely enough, many folks don’t realize how easy this is. At the top of your own Pinterest account page is an ADD button. When you click it, you have a choice to Upload a  Pin. Click that and choose any photo from your own computer to put on your board with a comment.

This is a good start. If you have more questions, please ask and I will try to answer.


By popular demand, I will run another live session of the Inktense Soup to Nuts Workshop starting March 15. Here’s the page:



10 thoughts on “Pinterest, Copyright, Confusion . . .

  1. Sheila Johnston

    Love the sheep! We are wintering in Mexico and everywhere you drive there are animals by the roadside, quietly grazing. We’ve seen sheep, horses, goats, burros, so far. Most of them are tied up, so they can’t move far.

  2. Shelley

    Thank you for the Pinterest tutorial! I knew there was probably more to consider than met the eye. It’s a fun place for sure, and I can see how it could be very helpful to drive business to your site.

    That said, I can also see how it could eat hours of “spare” time (whatever that is!), so I am attempting to not become too enamored with it!

  3. jessica Post author

    Great picture, Elaine. I resized it so everyone could see.

    Maybe the color identifies a certain kind of wool?

    To show up in comments, photos should be 72ppi and nor wider than 600 pixels.

    Here is Elaine’s original comment:

    So fun to see your sheep. I photographed sheep in France but unfortunately they had big colored bloches sprayed on them. Apparently this is a European requirement but it’s not very beautiful for picture taking. Here is a photo of some hungry animals.

  4. Cathy in AZ

    I don’t know for certain but maybe the spot is like branding. Plus it would be easier to ‘spot’ your sheep from the distance or to sort if they meet up with another flock.

  5. linda g

    I always learn something new from you Jessica! Thanks for adding the tip on pinning a picture from my own computer….without my own blog though, no one would be able to repin…right? I’ll have to be careful about making sure I leave my own comments….sometimes when I can only look for a few minutes, I quickly repin so I can go back later to explore the source.

  6. jessica Post author

    HI Linda – Sure, people can repin your original cotent – the repin would send new viewers back to your board on Pinterest.

    I love your quilts, Marilyn. I sure did go to Fredericksburg – one of my favorite and most freguently visited places. I have some photos and stories to share.

  7. Sandie Reid

    I can almost imagine what that horse is thinking. thanks for the lesson on Pinterest and pinning, very helpful.

  8. Sherri

    Hi Jessica!
    I love getting your emails, so much fun to see what you’re doing!
    I’d love to try photography, especially using telephoto lens to get close shots like the ones above. What is a good “beginning” camera? Any tips for someone who wants to try something more than a point-and-shoot?

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