One of the images I had removed from Pinterest. Obviously the poster does not believe the copyright notice means anything
Pinterest and stolen images


November 4, 2015

Every now and again I do a quick Google Images search to see which of my images are being used in various media around the world. It gives me a really good idea of what types and styles of images are in demand and I can then ensure that I include a good selection of such images in each shoot that I do.

I usually only look at the first few images as much of my work is supplied through the photo agencies I work for and therefore there is a lot of my work out there. However, today I decided to take a deeper look and was horrified at how many of my images were published without permission or, of course, any form of licensing fee.

One of the biggest offenders is the social media site, Pinterest. Taking a look at the pages on which my images were prominently featured it became obvious that this is a haven for individuals stealing copyrighted material.

Interestingly, Pinterest absolve themselves from all responsibility for the material posted on their site, stating in their terms of service “Pinterest has adopted and implemented the Pinterest Copyright Policy in accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For more information, please read our Copyright Policy.” In other words they will not accept any responsibility for the material that anyone may post on their site – irrespective of whether that material is someone else’e property.

Another even more worrying clause states “You grant Pinterest and its users a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, store, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify, create derivative works, perform, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest solely for the purposes of operating, developing, providing, and using the Pinterest Products. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict other legal rights Pinterest may have to User Content, for example under other licenses” In plain English, once material is posted to the site Pinterest can use it in any way they want, further breaching a copyright holders rights.


Irrespective of whether you are a professional photographer or a complete amateur as soon as you press the camera shutter button you have created something that belongs to you, and no-one should have the right to use that image without your permission.

Now, Pinterest does provide a mechanism by which a copyright holder may make a claim that an images is being used without permission and they do undertake to remove such images – which I have done with all the images I have so far found. But in reality, I don’t have the time to go to this site regularly and search for ‘stolen’ images. Surely it should be incumbent upon Pinterest to educate their users and take a stronger line on infringements. If an image has a great big copyright sign plastered on it, is that not a pretty good indication that the user does not have the right to use it?

Sooner or later someone is going to be sued for posting images on the Pinterest site. I am aware that several actions are currently pending and it will be interesting to see how this develops.

If you are a “Pinner” be warned – do not post images without permission


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