Blocking Pinterest From Your Site – Should You Be Able To? And Should You?

Question of the day – should you be able to opt out of Pinterest and block people from pinning images off your site?

Insta-response – Uh, yes.

Short answer – It’s a free country and if you don’t want your site to be pinned or pushed in a way you didn’t approve, that is absolutely to be respected. Conversely, you DON’T have a right to just use someone’s content against their permission or wishes. That’s all there is to it.

Long answer – You have a right to protect your content or determine the terms under which is it shared. But is there a reason why you’re being so protective that you’re refusing what is, in effect, free advertising? That too on a social media platform that’s on everyone’s radar at the moment? That part, I do not get – and would love for you to tell me about more in the comments section.

Yes, there are ways to keep people from ripping off your images. A very good thing if you do need it!

I do get that people don’t always credit images. Sometimes it’s outright theft. Sometimes, it’s laziness. About which, I will say, even if there is nothing explicitly stopping you from doing so, it’s just good manners to let people know (either by embedded URL or straight up email) that you liked their stuff enough to want to refer to it in your own material.

This is not hard. I’ve long relied on Morguefile ┬ábecause I have no budget to buy images. And there are several sites out there, Flickr, for instance, where images range from “go ahead, use me!” to “Don’t you dare, this is mine.” For the most part though, people want their stuff to go viral and will tell you exactly how little or how much you can use their work, and if and how they want to be thanked. As I said, not hard.

Besides which, if someone’s site explicitly tells you to use only with permission or attribution, why on earth would you do otherwise? There is no hiding on the Internet. Off on a tangent…

But sometimes with Pinterest, I think it’s sheer excitement. As in, “It was really late, I was completely enthralled with the posters out there and I was a pinning fool who didn’t think to give credit where it’s due on the spot and either didn’t realize or now can’t find out the original image and credit. Oh crap!”

You know what? That last bit happens. I may have been guilty of this early in the game when I didn’t realize that Pinterest – which is still evolving – doesn’t automatically build in the URL into your image for all to see on your boards.

Hard as it is, might you be better off taking it as a compliment that someone so loved your stuff that they got carried away with it? I think that’s the question to ask. Because nine times out of ten, I bet if you wrote and said, “Um, you know that was my image, so please give credit where it’s due,” I bet you’ll get credit ASAP. Call me naive, but in my experience, most people usually want to do the right thing and be good citizens, digital or otherwise. What is it that Maya Angelou once said? “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”



  1. “‘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” from their TOS
    which raises the same concerns as twitpics’s did

    also see

    Pinterest ‘s TOS also states that anyone who pins work to the site has permission of the copyright owner to grant the site the right to “sell” They have not answered requests from artists to explain what they mean by these terms.

    • Joe – thanks for visiting and for the comment! Question – would you be more comfortable sharing your content if it was all watermarked? So that you were clearly credited? For instance, I used an Oxfam image that I found through Flickr in my last post. The only way to use it is to use their code, which clearly goes back to their site. Just wondering. Please feel free to respond! This is an evolving issue and we’d all benefit from a discussion.

  2. That still does not address the fact that Printerist has not explained what they mean by the right to SELL images that a 3rd party links to their site, They are copying to their servers images that are 400px in the long dim. So far, I have not found any of my work there, BUT the action of making that copy means that the artist no longer has control of his work!

    • Thanks for clarifying. Although I checked out your site, and you’re pretty clear about not wanting to be pinned. You SHOULDN’T find your images on Pinterest – unless the pinner wants a serious suit and bad web karma on their hands.

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