Are you a victim of Pinterest copyright infringement?
Have you heard the hubbub about stolen images on Pinterest?
Or maybe you’re just a smartie who’s thinking ahead.
The topic of intellectual property theft from bloggers and content creators is a distressing one for me. I love to encourage creativity and hate to see creatives taken advantage of.
But I’m going to keep calm and give good advice. So read on.
And learn about a brand-new tool to combat stolen Pins!
What is Pinterest copyright infringement?
When you allow your content to be shared on Pinterest, you’re agreeing to have your image saved, shared, and displayed across the Pinterest platform.
This includes being embedded in Pinterest widgets on other websites.
But you retain copyright on your content, and it should always be linked and credited to you.
Don’t know the Pinterest Terms of Service? There’s lots more. Read them here.
About copyright, Pinterest says,
Pinterest respects the intellectual property rights of others and we expect people on Pinterest to do the same. It’s our policy—in appropriate circumstances and at our discretion—to disable or terminate the accounts of people who repeatedly infringe or are repeatedly charged with infringing copyrights or other intellectual property rights. ~Copyright on Pinterest
When Pinterest users talk about “stolen pins” or copyright infringement, they’re usually referring to Pins that belong to one website being changed to link to another website. This is highly unethical, and almost certainly illegal. Don’t ever do it.
*I’m not a lawyer and don’t play one online. Seek legal advice if you have questions about the law and how it may apply to you.
But I don’t want my images on Pinterest, ever!
If you don’t want people to save things to Pinterest from your website, just paste this code into the <head> section of any page on your site:
<meta name=”pinterest” content=”nopin” />
When someone tries to save things to Pinterest from your site, they’ll see this message: This site doesn’t allow saving to Pinterest. Please contact the owner with any questions. Thanks for visiting!
You can customize the message by adding a description to the meta tag:
<meta name = “pinterest” content = “nopin” description = “Sorry, you can’t save from my website!” />
If you want to turn off saving to Pinterest on a single image, add this tag to it:
<img src = “foo.jpg” nopin = “nopin” />
How can I prevent Pinterest copyright infringement?
Unfortunately, you can’t completely prevent it. No matter what measures you put into place, there are people who don’t know better, or don’t care. 🙁
BUT I DO recommend you put measures into place to mitigate the problem:
- NEVER change the URL on a Pin that’s not yours. Just. Don’t. Ever.
- ALWAYS put your logo, website name, or URL on your Pin images. All my favorite design tools make this easy to do.
- NEVER repin anything without ensuring the linked site is the right one, that is, they have a right to link from that Pin to their site.
I also strongly recommend you develop a recognizable visual style or branding for your Pin images. This will help other Pinners notice when something’s not right, for instance your Pin has been hijacked.
Be careful when saving Pins from Pinterest!
I know, it isn’t always easy to tell if the Pin link is correct. Best bet is if the Pin image has an identification on it that matches the site it links to.
It starts to get difficult when images from another site are used with permission. I constantly get PR companies asking me to post infographics on my site in exchange for a link back. So in this case it’s not only OK for me to post others’ images, but desirable to them.
Here are some clues that the site has no right to link from the Pinterest image, when the identification on the Pin doesn’t match the linked site:
- The image isn’t on the linked page, and the page doesn’t relate to the image.
- There’s no credit and link to the image’s source on the linked page.
- Linked page has lots of ads or otherwise looks spammy.
NOTE: I am NOT saying that using someone else’s image on your site with credit and a link back absolves you of copyright infringement! Only use others’ images with permission. It might be wise to note “used with permission.” Read this for more about copyright.
What happens if I mistakenly save a stolen Pin?
Maybe nothing, except spreading bad content. Someone may click on your “save” of that Pin and find a spammy site. Sharing spam is certainly not good for your own reputation on Pinterest.
And you risk your account being closed. What?
Yep. If the content owner finds the Pin and reports it, and marks a “strike,” you could get a notice from Pinterest that you have a strike on your account.
Even though you didn’t change the URL.
How many strikes ’til you’re out? Unknown. But don’t risk it.
How do I find stolen Pinterest Pins?
If you’re a Pinterest newbie and your content isn’t popular on Pinterest yet, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. It seems to be popular Pins that are targeted for theft.
If you want to look for stolen Pins, here are some things to try:
- Click on one of your own Pins and look at the related Pins that come up.
- Search for one of your Pin titles.
- Click on your branded hashtag, or other Pinterest hashtags you use frequently (spam rises to the top here).
- Search for one of your Pin keywords.
- Check in a Facebook group about Pinterest for a list of accounts that steal Pins.
On a computer, you can quickly mouse over any Pin and see what site it’s linked to.
Can I fight stolen Pins on my own account?
Now there’s a new and better way!
On April 19, 2021, Pinterest announced the Content Claiming Portal.
What is Pinterest’s Content Claiming Portal?
The Content Claiming Portal is a brand new tool that enables creators to claim their content and decide if and how it appears on Pinterest.
To get started, content creators can submit a Content Claiming Portal application. If your application is approved, you’ll be able to upload your original content and select from one of the following enforcement options:
- Mine only: Remove existing and future versions of the images from Pinterest, except Pins originally saved by me.
- Website only: Remove existing and future versions of the images from Pinterest, except Pins that link to my claimed website(s). (This option will only be available if you have a claimed website.)
- Block all: Remove all existing and future versions of these images from Pinterest.
Once a rights holder uploads a particular image, they can specify whether they want that image to appear on Pinterest. If they choose to block the image, Pinterest will remove any matching images they’re able to identify. source
Note: You do have to apply first before you can use any of the CCP features.
How do I use the Content Claiming Portal?
I recommend you ensure you’ve claimed your website on Pinterest before applying, as that will unlock what I consider the most valuable feature: only allowing your images on Pinterest if they link to your site.
Once you’re sure your Pinterest account is in good order, as long as you own copyright to visual content, you can apply here.
It’s a fairly lengthy form. I’ve just shown the bottom here, where you need to:
- Describe your content.
- Assure everything you filled in is accurate.
- Agree to the terms.
- Type your name as your signature.
- Click the red Apply button.
Pinterest will get back to you. I was approved quickly, but I don’t know how they determine who gets approved and who doesn’t.
After your application is approved, you’ll be able to begin uploading your content.
To get started, follow these steps:
- Visit the Content Claiming Portal.
- Click Create claims to upload selected reference files and choose your desired enforcement.*
- Once processed, you’ll see a green checkmark under Status.
*Beware: Block all is selected by default. I think most creatives will prefer Website only. Of course, it’s totally your choice!
There’s no limit on how much content you can claim in total, but you can upload up to 50 works to the portal at a time. We currently only support images, but we may expand to additional file types in the future.
Once you’ve uploaded content, you can check its status in the portal.
What if someone else claims my content?
I won’t be surprised to see this happen, since we’ve already seen unethical people claiming others’ content in copyright disputes, before Pinterest even created the portal.
The process under CCP is that 2 claims on the same content creates a conflict in the system.
Once Pinterest receives a claim from another user, you’ll be notified and you’ll have 7 days to confirm whether you would like to dispute the claim from the other party or discard your own claim. You can dispute or discard in the portal. If you don’t dispute or retract within 7 days, your claim will be discarded.
If both users choose to dispute the other user’s claim, Pinterest will deactivate both claims until they receive a court order establishing who has the rights or ownership of the content. You may reach out to the other party to resolve the issue directly if appropriate.
I hope you never have to deal with this, but here are more details if you do.
How do I report Pinterest copyright infringement?
If you aren’t part of the Content Claiming Portal, you can still report stolen Pins.
If you want to report your own intellectual property as stolen, you can use this form.
DO NOT check “Remove all” unless you want all like images to be removed – including the ones that link to your site.
DO NOT check “Strike” unless you’re sure the Pinner of that particular Pin is the baddie who changed the URL.
DO NOT include your home address in the Contact Information. If the reported Pinner complains, Pinterest may supply your report, which might include your contact info.
You may submit your completed DMCA notice via the web, or by mail, FAX or email:
Pinterest Copyright Agent
808 Brannan Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-4904
Fax: +1 415 762 7100
There’s also a phone number where I suppose you can leave a voice mail.
Telephone +1 650 308 4604
At the time I first wrote this, Pinterest wouldn’t accept reports of entire accounts – even if all the images are stolen content. But it’s worth a try.
You can’t file a DMCA if you aren’t the copyright holder, but you can still report the Pin.
- Click the 3 dots above the Pin image.
- Click “Report Pin.”
- Choose “This Pin isn’t useful.”
- Choose “I can’t find the image on the site.”
- Click the “Report Pin” button.
If your website traffic has tanked due to stolen Pins, you may need to create new Pin images. Users may be wary of images that once led them to unreliable sites.
I believe this prompted Pinterest’s emphasis on fresh Pins that started in 2019.
Learn more about Pinterest’s latest best practices.
What’s next for Pinterest?
If you’re wary about Pinterest after reading this, I don’t blame you.
The truth is, the online space is rife with content theft. It’s inescapable.
I still believe in Pinterest – it’s still my best social traffic referrer. And now they’ve launched a new tool to help fight stolen Pins.
But you can’t put all your eggs in one basket! While Pinterest is still the best place for a new business or blogger to start for traffic, it shouldn’t be your only source.
My goal is to continue making valuable content that people want to read, share, and subscribe to. I believe this should be the top goal of any blogger – not “getting more Pinterest traffic.”
For further reading about copyright infringement (not specific to Pinterest, bold links are on this blog):
I hope I’ve helped you understand the problems with Pinterest copyright infringement and stolen Pins. Leave a comment if you have more tips!