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Pinterest Changes Let Website Owners Opt Out of Being Pinned


  But should you do it?




Pinterest, the wildly addictive social network that allows people to pin things they find online to virtual “boards”, has made some changes this week that will possibly make many website owners concerned about people “stealing” and pinning their content to their boards very happy.  They have provided a bit of code that you can add to the head code of your site to stop people from pinning your stuff.

They made an addition to their help section that says, “What if I don’t want images from my site to be pinned?”:

Pinterest code for websites to stop pinning



People who try to pin from a site that has the code embedded will see a box like this:

Sample of Pinterest no pinning notice:

sample of Pinterest opt out image


Lots of people have been going on about people “stealing” their content and pinning it, and how it's copyright infringement or in some way harming them.  Now they have this little box they can add, which would be awesome, except for one thing. It doesn't stop people who really want to pin/save something and are determined to do it from just saving the image to their hard drive and uploading it directly themselves or taking a screenshot,  and then maybe giving the original site a link back..and maybe not.

All using this code is going to do for some sites is strip away the link and possible huge boost in traffic they would have gotten from their content being allowed to be shared on Pinterest. Some website owners are reporting HUGE boosts in traffic from Pinterest. Last I checked, lots of traffic and people sharing your content on social sites was a good thing. Yes, there is the potential for things to get pinned wrong, or in the pinning and repinning your link could get lost in the shuffle and your content is just out there. It happens all the time on Pinterest, but it also happens pretty much anywhere people share content. Does that make it okay? No, of course not, but people are all freaking out about Pinterest in particular and how it’s evil and illegal and should be shut down. If that’s the case, then we should shut down Facebook, Google Plus, WeHeartIt, Tumblr, Piccsy, Clipboard,, Imgur, Photobucket, Flickr, YouTube, and pretty much any social networking site where images are shared.  The linking back systems on many of these sites is decidedly flawed. Tumblr, in particular, is a nightmare for trying to find the source of things.  There is another huge issue about Pinterest possibly taking people’s images and selling them or licensing them, because their TOS says they can. This is a whole other huge post that I will address later, but again, most, if not all, of these sites I mentioned in some way profit from their user-uploaded content. Most of that content does not belong to the people who uploaded it.  How about LOLcats and the whole slew of sites dedicated to nothing but uploaded pictures and videos?  You think they’re not making their money? Do you think most of the pictures uploaded belong to the ones who uploaded them?

I’m not saying people shouldn’t be concerned about their images being used without permission and should just let people freely take whatever they like without payment or permission. That’s crazy. There are licensing issues for many people whose images are being used.There is huge potential for abuse and misuse on ANY site that allows people to upload and share things they find online, and people could definitely lose money and hurt their brand as an artist if they’re not careful. I just think that vilifying sites like Pinterest for the supposed evil TOS and for encouraging people to pilfer all the pretty pictures they find online and pin them, is a bit short-sighted, and placing the blame in the wrong place.

On the photo-sharing site Zooomr, for instance, I was able to find this picture of this cute kitty and use the embed code they provided next to it to embed it here.

DSC02708 by quake on Zooomr

I was also able to easily pin it to my Kitteh pinboard


Kittehs - pretty kitty..(2)

even though the photo was posted with an “All Rights Reserved” license,

DSC02708 - Zooomr Photo Sharing

I could still take it and post it online for use in this here blog post, with no payment or least until the owner tracks me down and objects. I could do anything I want with it, if I chose.  Granted, this photo is probably not something the owner posted with intent to sell.  He/she is maybe not a professional artist or photographer, and I get the difference. There is a big difference.  It isn’t mine to take legally, just because I like it, but I did.  Unfortunately for some, good or bad, this is how things currently work online. Most people think that if it’s posted online it’s free for the taking, and you can do pretty much anything you want with things you “find”, as long as you just give a link to where you found it. There are serious issues in terms of copyright and curation everywhere on the net, so the smart thing to do is protect your creative properties of any kind when you make it available for viewing/use online. Instead of targeting sites like Pinterest, blocking them, and shouting about their evil ways, embrace them as a way to bring more attention to your work, learn how to control your content as best you can, and adapt.

How Do You Protect Your Images Online?

1.  When posting your work to your own website, use a lightbox plugin, so all pictures open up in a lightbox if someone right clicks on them. They can’t be pinned or right clicked and saved from inside the lightbox.  I’ve also heard good things about the NextGEN Gallery plugin

2. Post a very clear notice on your site that your images are not free to be used without permission and exactly what is and isn’t allowed.  That may stop some people from taking them.

3.  Watermark all of your photos, or at the very least put your name and the url to  your site on the picture. That way, unless someone deliberately cuts it out of the picture, no matter where the picture ends up it clearly tells people how to find you and your site.

4.  Only post thumbnails or low-res images, that will make them unsuitable for use on a lot of sites, including Pinterest.

5.  You can create a private site to post your images to if you want to share higher resolution images with no watermarks, and make people have to sign up and log in if they want to see the full images. That way, people can’t just randomly land on your site and swipe things, and you can build yourself a nice mailing list of potential customers who may buy from you in the future.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think the potential benefits from allowing your content to be pinned and shared far outweigh any risk. To each their own though, so those concerned can now opt out and keep their stuff all to themselves.  Pinterest isn’t going away anytime soon, clones are popping up all over, and there are far too many of them already doing exactly what Pinterest does. Pinterest just found a really easy, visually appealing and addictive way to do it.  They are trying to be sensitive to copyright issues and also limited the pin descriptions to 500 words, to avoid people copying and pasting entire blog posts and recipes to their pin descriptions.

If you aren’t a Pinterest member and would like a free invite, just leave me a comment or shoot me a message with your email address and I’ll send you one.

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  • What if, a person is a member of community site that offers photo’s, art, etc., for sale and does not want copyrighted material pinned on Pinterest and the site owners decide not block Pinterest?

    The no pin tag is easily worked around as noted on another blog, ” I grab the URL of an image in my blog post, it allows it to be pinned.”

    Pinning stock images that have licenses and are clearly marked with a large copyright symbol does not prevent Pinterest from pinning the images.

    The users of the site, would be well advised, to read the terms of use, as some may find them selfs on the wrong end of the agreement.

    The terms hold the user responsible for the content uploaded or pinned.

  • Hi Mitch
    Yes, you’re right that people could be opening themselves up for trouble if they are pinning things or sharing them on other sites without permission from the copyright holder. Which they are..A  WHOLE LOT!  The problem is, a lot of people either don’t know that or don’t care. They aren’t taking images for commercial use and they are under the impression that it’s okay to post images as long as you have a link back to the site..and they most likely don’t read a site’s TOS before they join and start posting away. They click the button saying they did, but they really glanced at it, if that. The TOS statements on sites that allow shared content are pretty much CYA (cover your a**) statements they put there to cover themselves, so they don’t get sued.  If they couldn’t do that, there would be no sites that allow user uploaded content (including YouTube, Facebook, etc). They’d all be shut down and buried in legal battles. They know that, you know that. I’m sure they know what the reality is vs whatever their stated intentions and TOS may tell you.  Of course they and their lawyers will deny it. 

    You could sue them, and spend your time and money wrapped up in legal battles. It’s way more than Pinterest, and you could end up in the fight against a lot bigger entities.  Might be worth it, if you want to be the next RIAA and have a SOPA/PIPA type battle on your hands..even though you are completely in the right and have the right to protect your copyright.  Unfortunately, on sites like Zazzle, Redbubble, etc, not everyone wants to stop it, not everyone objects, so the site can’t please everyone. Which puts those who do object in the position of having to opt out, since you don’t own the site. You need to force them to make it opt out by default and allow those who want to allow it opt in. Again, even if they put the code in and allow you to opt out, that’s not going to completely stop people from pinning or uploading them if they really want to do it.  It’s not “right”, but it’s reality.  Protecting your images, hunting them down and issuing DMCA notices on an individual basis could become a full-time job.  No matter what sites do, there are ways around them if someone wants to badly enough, but then it becomes willful intent to circumvent your clearly stated objection and efforts to stop them, and I wouldn’t have a problem personally suing anyone who does that.  

    You’re right that putting copyright notices and watermarking your name and URL where the image was originally posted won”t stop it from being taken and posted elsewhere, but it will clearly mark it as a copyrighted image, and therefore signal to people that it’s not a free, uncopyrighted, public domain image..and give those who want to find the original source of an image they love, and perhaps want to buy it or legally license it, a way to find it, no matter where it ends up.  That’s just smart, whether there’s a Pinterest or not.  If sites don’t allow you to do that, then I wouldn’t post your images there.  

  • Hello. I am interested in trying the Lightbox plugin you mentioned. I have nto found one that disables the pinning. My entire gallery can be pinned in one click. I would greatly appreciate a specific plugin suggestion. Thanks!

    • suze

      Hi I’m pretty sure the NextGEN gallery does allow you to disable right clicking on your images. I haven’t installed it and played with it, so I don’t know for sure but I have seen it mentioned. i will probably be installing it and checking it out in the near future, but I haven’t had time to mess with it yet. If they are downloading your pictures using some kind of scraper program, like snagit or something that can download all the pictures from a site at once, you can use robot.txt files in your wordpress directory to stop that. Again, haven’t tried it, but I’ve heard it works. You’ll have to Google to find out the details of that, because I don’t have the time to explain it in detail. In the meantime, you could try adding this code to every image link on your site.. oncontextmenu=”return false” There are probably ways around it if they really want the image, I’m not sure, but it will stop some of the downloading.

      so if your image html looks like this now
      it would look like this after adding the code to it..

      Hope that helps. I’ll have more on this subject in the future…just haven’t had time to get to it. :O)

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