Pinterest and Copyright: Where Do You Stand?

Colonial Golf Club, Gold Coast

Colonial Golf Club, Gold Coast

Pinterest changed its Terms of Service with effect from 6 April 2012 and reinforced its stance on copyright.  This was in response to a growing debate on the Internet concerning copyright issues and the impact of Pinterest on particular groups such as professional photographers, sites that sell images, websites with original images and photo sharing sites such as Flickr.

Pinterest in its recent Terms of Service has made it very clear that you pin and repin at your own risk.  You are licensed to use the site provided you abide with their policies.  Under the Acceptable Use Policy of Pinterest you agree not to post content that:

…infringes any third party’s Intellectual Property Rights, privacy rights, publicity rights, or other personal or proprietary rights.

[Photo Source: Copyright 2012, Ron Passfield]

Pinterest: The Copyright Issues

Kirsten Kowalski, in a landmark blog  post,  highlighted the ethical and legal dilemmas for users of Pinterest.  Her post attracted over 650 comments and led to discussions with Pinterest’s founder which, in turn, influenced the changes to the Terms of Reference effective from 6 April 2012.  The title of her post is telling:

Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards

When you breach copyright while pinning images to Pinterest, you carry the responsibility not Pinterest.  A case in point is unauthorized use of images from other’s websites.  Some webmasters (particularly in the Internet marketing field) are very aggressive about the copyright of images on their websites and explicitly exclude their use through their ‘Terms of Use’ statements.

Flickr too has license restrictions on the use of images.  Flickr contributors can specify the restrictions on images they submit to the site.  There are a wide range of licenses involved.  The one that has the least restrictions is ‘Creative Commons – Attribution License’ – which enables you to use or remix images for non commercial or commercial purposes provided you acknowledge the source in the way specified by the creator.

Professional photographers have a special interest in copyright because their photos represent their livelihood.  Many photographers now have hidden watermarks on their photos and tracking systems that can show where their photos are being used on the Internet.   In situations of unauthorized use of their photos, they can request payment or sue the copier.  Professional photographers were the group that were very keen to talk to Pinterest about their Terms of Use.

Repining brings its own copyright risks.  For example, if you repin a Flickr photo from another Pinterest user, how are you going to ensure that you have provided the attribution in the form specified by the creator or that the initial pin did not breach any license restrictions?

So Pinterest involves legal copyright  issues and the basic ethical issue of respecting other people’s rights.  I know when someone copies an article of mine and claims authorship, I am very quick to insist on its removal from the article hosting site.  I suppose the age-old motto should prevail here, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you!”

Pinterest and copyright: My stance

There are some Internet marketers who say that the controversy over copyright issues with Pinterest will all blow over.  They argue that since many people are already abusing copyright on Facebook, it is okay to do it on Pinterest – especially if there is the possibility of earning income.  This unethical and illegal stance contributed to the development of the draconian SOPA legislation which has been shelved (for the time being).   While Internet marketers continue to abuse other’s rights, we are going to have a backlash which will end up in some form of legislative constraint.

I have decided that the stance I will adopt for my Pinterest site will follow these guidelines:

  • use my own photos wherever possible (like many others, I have hundreds of these)
  • use public domain images such as those provided by Pixabay where appropriate (link to the site will be automatically generated by Pinterest if I use the bookmark tool)
  • repin only where I am confident of the original source of an image and where I can legally use and acknowledge that source (e.g. a Flickr photo with Creative Commons – Attribution license)
  • create my own quotes and infographics
  • use images I have paid for through sites such as BigStockPhoto.

The creators of the Pinterest Traffic Blueprint have recently added a bonus training video to address the copyright issues.   They provide a list of do’s and dont’s in response to members’ inquiries and concerns.   I highly recommend the Pinterest Traffic Blueprint because it takes a balanced view and provides sound advice on how to use Pinterest.

There are real copyright issues associated with using Pinterest and they should be taken into account when using this fast growing site – so what is your stance?

Social Media for Small Business Marketing

social media for small business


You have to search really hard to find someone who relates social media to small business marketing and does so in an easy-to-understand way. However, Social Media Today has achieved this sharing by assembling a panel of experts who can guide you through the social media maze.

The YouTube video presented above gives great insights into how to use social media to advance the marketing of your small business. They effectively cover Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and relate these to small business marketing. The information is really well grounded and focused on “how to” information – it does not go into the technicalities of each of the social media sites.

The video covers the practicalities of social media marketing:

  • How to use social media to build your small business
  • What social media to use for small business marketing
  • How to avoid the risks associated with social media
  • How to connect with your customers (current and future) through social media
  • Ways to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing.

Without this kind of guidnace, you can easily waste time, money and resources on social media and inhibit the success of your small business.

Core messages for small business marketing using social media

After watching the video and related Slideshare presentation, I distilled eight (8) key messages that relate to the use of social media for small business marketing:

  1. Social media are designed to build community, not to offer a platform for direct marketing (overt marketing can result in account deletion)
  2. Social media marketing is a form of indirect marketing (unless you use paid advertising on social media sites)
  3. Your goals should be to build connections and relationships with current and potential customers
  4. Unless you have a specific strategy when you visit social media sites, you will waste a lot of time for no productive outcome
  5. The essence of social media is conversation with others and sharing – about yourself, your small business, your interests and information relevant to your niche
  6. Effective marketing on social media requires content creation on your part – blogging, podcasts, e-books and videos
  7. It’s important to personalise your business and your staff – profiles and videos help greatly here (you have to present as a real person, with real interests and real staff)
  8. Profiles are critical – make sure they are relevant to your business, up-to-date and keyword rich (for SEO purposes).

Small business owners can use social media effectively if they follow some basic principles and develop a marketing strategy.  The potential of social media is enormous but the realization of this potential requires focus, targeting and discipline.

Social Media: Where Are Your Customers Conversing?

Yosemite Valley


With the growth of social media, small business owners face new challenges in terms of locating their clients/customers.  Added to this is the fact that recent estimates show that 80% of people who have access to the Internet start their search via the Web, not via printed media (e.g. Yellow Pages or newspapers).

One of the key learnings for me in small business marketing was to learn to focus on my customers/clients.  This meant getting to know their demographic, their interests and needs and what appeals emotionally to them.

Now that social media has expanded rapidly, the nature of “word-of- mouth” recommendation has changed drastically also.  Are your products being recommended by others on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Squidoo or LinkedIn?

One of the keys to small business marketing online is getting to know where your customers are carrying on their conversations and joining them there.  For instance, since one of our client groups is professional public sector managers, we have found that they can be reached via LinkedIn.  The secret is to “get in front of the online conversation”.

One way to do this is to join social media sites and monitor what is going on in relation to your niche.  Another way is to use Google Alerts (via your Google account) to check on what is happening in relation to your niche and your business (name).   This will pick up who is saying “what” about you and your niche and where this is being said.   This is an aspect of reputation management as well as direct small business marketing online.

With your customers/clients spending so much time on social media, can you afford to ignore it?

Photo Source:



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