Quelling Your Pinterest Fears (They Won’t Sell What You Pin, and You’re Not Going to be Sued!)

I’ve been reading a lot lately from people who are freaking out about Pinterest’s terms of use. I read one blog where the woman was so upset about Pinterest’s clause that they have the right to sell whatever you pin, paired with the clause that holds you responsible for copyright infringement, she actually painted a scenario that went something like this:

1. You pin a picture of a cat.
2. Pinterest sells that picture to a cat food company who puts it on their bags of cat food.
3. The owner of the picture sues Pinterest, but you are the one held liable.
4. All Hell breaks loose.

I bet that's exactly what happened with this ad.

Those aren’t her exact words, but it was something like that. I wish I could find the original blog post.

I’ve always thought the fears about Pinterest were silly, especially when people interpret them that way. My best guess as to why they had that term about selling images was for their own publicity. I seriously doubt the people who run Pinterest would want the trouble that goes along with selling other people’s property. Besides, they are not in the advertising business.

Well none of that matters anymore, because Pinterest has updated their terms. Just in case you didn’t get (or didn’t open) their email, here you go:

Updated Terms of Service

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been working on an update to our Terms. When we first launched Pinterest, we used a standard set of Terms. We think that the updated Terms of ServiceAcceptable Use Policy, and Privacy Policy are easier to understand and better reflect the direction our company is headed in the future. We’d encourage you to read these changes in their entirety, but we thought there were a few changes worth noting.

  • Our original Terms stated that by posting content to Pinterest you grant Pinterest the right for to sell your content. Selling content was never our intention and we removed this from our updated Terms.
  • We updated our Acceptable Use Policy and we will not allow pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse.
  • We released simpler tools for anyone to report alleged copyright or trademark infringements.
  • Finally, we added language that will pave the way for new features such as a Pinterest API and Private Pinboards.

We think these changes are important and we encourage you to review the new documents here. These terms will go into effect for all users on April 6, 2012.

Like everything at Pinterest, these updates are a work in progress that we will continue to improve upon. We’re working hard to make Pinterest the best place for you to find inspiration from people who share your interest. We’ve gotten a lot of help from our community as we’ve crafted these Terms.


Ben & the Pinterest Team

So quit freaking out, and continue to enjoy pinning. (If you’re curious about Pinterest Etiquette, I wrote a post about that, too.)


4 thoughts on “Quelling Your Pinterest Fears (They Won’t Sell What You Pin, and You’re Not Going to be Sued!)

  1. I think that was a very strange fearfor people to have. When you post something on there, for the majority of us who DIY, it’s because you want to share a better way of doing something. When you hit submit for your idea you let go or any chance to make money off of your idea and run the risk that someone viewing your post will find it helpful in their business and make more money off your way of doing something. Your reward is knowing that you inspired someone, even though it may not ever be recognized. I can see in different categories of someone taken a picture of their art, but that stuff could happen the moment they make their art public. Infringement happens all the time and while it’s not okay it’s tough to track to stop it. I’m glad Pinterest updated their policies to calm everyone down so we can get back to pinning.

    • I totally agree. I post original ideas I’ve had, and I know there’s a chance that someone else will “steal” it and present it as their own, but whether that happens or not, the majority of people will simply use the idea for enjoyment, or to better their own lives. We all share and borrow from each other online, and I really like that aspect. Most people who share their intellectual property online are not itching to sue, so I don’t really get the paranoia either.


  2. Well said! Admittedly, I spend too much time on Pinterest, but I’ve only seen one pin thus far that resulted in a negative response from the original source. (Actually, I get depressed if people aren’t repinning my stuff. It’s like being the last one picked for dodgeball in junior high gym class!)

    • Haha! I feel the same way! Also, when strangers start following my pinboards, it kinda makes me feel like I have admirers, and it boosts my spirits. Pathetic, I know.

      I saw a weight loss blog once where the woman had shared a bunch of deeply personal stuff, along with pictures that were really hard for her to post online (like of surgery scars and such), and she asked that people please not pin them. She also reported pins anytime she saw them. So, I guess I can see how certain people wouldn’t want their images on that site (I’d imagine watermarked images are best left alone, too), and I think that Pinterest users and the Pinterest community at large should respect that.

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