Studio Musings

Monday, October 14, 2013

Penny for your Thoughts: Pinterest Etiquette

While I have a Pinterest account and a few boards, I’ve never felt completely comfortable using it.  My biggest issues revolving around copyright – what did/do I owe to the person whose image I’m pinning?  
A friend’s post last week brought that question back up to the forefront for me.  Halinka’s post was prompted by the discovery that another woman had copied one of her designs and posted an instructional video claiming the pattern as her own.  Totally not cool.   Much of Halinka’s post revolved around the topic of attribution – how do we keep our names associated with our designs in cyberspace? 
In the course of the post she focused on Pinterest, offering a series of suggestions for Pinterest etiquette, and I thought it a great topic for discussion.  Pinterest has grown up so fast, that I don’t feel it’s ever really been truly addressed.  
I know that most of the people who read my blog are artists and designers themselves.  And it seems like a careful look at how we all use Pinterest is a great way to help support our fellow artists.  We can all be Artist Heros!  :)
Figuring this out would definitely make me feel more comfortable using Pinterest.  Every time I pin an image, I find myself wondering what do I owe to the person whose image I’m pinning in terms of proper attribution?  Does my use fall under the fair use of copyright?  
So here are Halinka’s suggestions, with my commentary in itallics.  
  • Ask me first.  I'm not sure how practical this is, as it would require a full round of emails and removes the immediacy that I think is part of Pinterest's appeal.  On my blog at least, this is definitely not required.  If someone did want people to ask them first, or did NOT want to allow pinning at all, how would they let people know?  Create a 'No Pinning' badge?
  • Leave a Comment.   I love this suggestion for works pinned from blogs.  That way the blogger can link to my board if they'd like, or they can even ask me to remove their image if they prefer.  Either way, I feel more like I've acknowledged their claim to the design and my limited use of it on my board.  
  •  Make sure that the link back goes directly back to the original designer’s page.  If it doesn’t, include the full link in the comment section. 
Some additional suggestions I came up with based off of Halinka's post:
  • When pinning from a blog, include the name of the designer if you can find it. Such a simple way to help keep the designer connected with their design!  This is something I'm going back through my boards and adding. 
  • Think carefully about the titles of your boards and what you include on which board.  Unless the design is offered as a pattern or tutorial, don’t include it on boards with titles like “Designs I’d Love to Make”.   Instead maybe it could go on a board called  "Jewelry Inspirations" or "Designs I Love" or "Cool Uses for Tila Beads" – again something to indicate that you know someone else’s creativity went into that design.   
What do you think? I’d really love to hear how you work with Pinterest, and your comments or additions to the suggestions.


  1. I saw Halinka's post and it got me thinking as well. I love pinterest and I love how it can lead you to a new designer/beader. I also love how it can be a source of inspiration.

    I don't love how some people use it, though -- they don't link directly to the designer or website, or don't acknowledge the designer, or (worst of all) pin designs from foreign webisites that are scanned (stolen).

    Until I read Halinka's post, though, it didn't occur to me to let the blogger/designer know that I was pinning her photo. I do think this is a great idea and does give some of the control back to the designer/blogger. It is something I will be doing from now on with jewelry/patterns/tutorials.

    I also agree with your suggestions on the titles of boards. I doubt that the majority of pinners will sit down and replicate a design, but "designs I want to make" as a title is off-putting and a slap in the face to the designer. Your alternate suggestions are perfect.

    1. Thank you Tanya! Halinka's post gave me one of those 'ah ha' moments where I suddenly saw how I could use Pinterest in a way that made me feel comfortable with the usage. A way that truly does help other designers.

  2. If you do not want to allow pins from your site, pinterest has a way for you to block them. You can also ask them to remove things that have been pinned from your site. Another discussion of pinterest and embroidery can be found here:

    1. Thanks for including this link Mary Ruth! While I am fine with people pinning from my site (especially if they let me know in a comment), this is a nice addition to the discussion.

  3. Hi:
    I know,that 'You can block,You can ban' Your pics to appear in *Pinterest*,but I've checked it and it doesn't work-nobody 'listens' to Your complaints.
    My main issue is:
    Once I made the decision to have the blog here-on Blogger and I like it.I like the community,kind comments and it seems really enough for me.
    Because I love comments-let the 'Pinterest' collectors coming here,on Blogger,ask me first ad LEAVE A TRACE in my blog.That's essential,because this is their main source to take the photos from.I think, I and not only I - we All deserve it.This expresses not only the respect towards the copyrights,but towards the Author - personally as well.

    Of course...this is in the sphere of my dreams only.They still come and load my photos-I can see it in my counter and I can do nothing,it's like talking to the wall.

    Warm Greetings-

    1. You are right Halinka; the problem will never go away completely. But I'll bet your simple suggestion will make a difference to many - I know it has to me.

      Thanks for providing the spark. :)