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Should You Block Pinterest on Your Blog?

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Pinterest recently released a new bit of code that you can add to your website which will block anyone who tries to pin your posts. It’s pretty simple. You just add a line of code to your header/footer and would-be pinners will receive a message when they attempt to pin anything from your site that says the site doesn’t allow pinning. Hear that? It’s the sound of Pinterest haters everywhere rejoicing.

But whether you use this social network or not, is blocking Pinterest a good idea? In my opinion, no.

At least, not for most bloggers. There are a few exceptions:

  • If your blog is photography-based, with posts containing little content beside your pictures, it might make sense to block Pinterest.
  • If your blog is about showcasing your artwork and, again, contains little written content, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.
  • If you hate traffic, it might makes sense to block Pinterest.

Okay, I think the last point probably doesn’t apply to anyone here…but the first two certainly might.

Pinterest has been getting heat lately because the platform basically makes it easy to repost any picture you find online. Pinterest does abide by DMCA rules and will remove pins when asked to do so by anyone who owns the picture in question, but this new opt-out code will make it even easier for bloggers to just say no to Pinterest.

Only…why would you want to?

I’m not arguing that artists and photographers should share their work for free. I believe everyone deserves to get paid for the work they do. However, Pinterest isn’t about stealing your work to use for some kind of personal gain. It’s about sharing your work so that others can find it. Curation is the theme here. Pinners are trying to help drive traffic to your site, not hoping to get away with not paying you for your work.

When someone steals a picture from Google images and publishes it on their blog without buying it (or crediting it properly/getting your permission if that’s what is required by the license), they’re using your work in a way that robs you of the money or traffic you’re supposed to get as the picture’s creator. They’re doing so because they don’t want to spend the money to pay you for your time. It’s the same as copy/pasting my words and posting on your own blog without permission – it’s wrong.

For example, let’s say that I am blogging about cake. Mmmm cake. Instead of taking a picture of a cake myself, buying a picture of a cake, or finding a free image to use, I steal a picture of cake you took for your own blog. It’s wrong. I’m using that picture for my own gain because I’m too lazy/cheap to do the right thing. You get no benefit.

Pinners, however, aren’t using your pictures without permission for their own gain. They don’t own their pin boards any more than we own our Facebook profiles. They’re using your picture as a preview in order to encourage others to be fans of the posts you create. It’s a recommendation, the same way it would be for someone to share a link on Twitter or Facebook. Pinterest just happens to create visual links, like a little preview of your site to encourage people to click through.

And because most people are visual learners, I think as Pinterest grows, this could lead to more traffic for any visual-based site (food, crafts, fashion, etc) than any social media site where just links are shared. Think about it. You’re more likely to be interested in a recipe if there’s a picture of the finished product to entice you, right? Allowing pinners the ability to pin your posts can lead to a LOT more traffic than places where people just share the title/URL.

Of course, like with every social media site, some users are jerks. They pin pictures without linking to the original source. They copy/paste the entire blog post into the description so people aren’t encouraged to click through to your blog. They change the pin URL to lead to their own site. They download your pictures and then upload them as if they own them.

But these users are a VERY SMALL percentage of users, at least in my experience. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the bunch for you. Pinterest is working to make the platform better (for example, there are plans to limit the characters in a description to avoid c/p of the entire post). You should definitely contact Pinterest if some users are pinning your work incorrectly…but don’t give the middle finger to the entire platform! You’ll be missing out on the potential for lots of new traffic if you do.

Now, like I said, the opt-out code could make sense for some people. If your website or blog is all about your artwork (photography or otherwise), it might make sense for you to say “thanks but no thanks.” Personally, I would want as many people as possible sharing previews of my work, but I can also understand how you’d want to limit the way people share. For the typical blogger, though, blocking Pinterest just doesn’t make sense in my opinion. This platform is such a cool new traffic source, and unlike some other recent networks *cough*Google+*cough* it seems to have attracted the attention of the general public, not just people who blog and use social media. For most people, blocking Pinterest is cutting off your nose to spite you face. Before you make this decision, I recommend you at least spend a few weeks giving the network a try first-hand.

Feel free to disagree with me in the comments! Will you block Pinterest on your blog now that this option is available? Why or why not?

Allison Boyer freelance writer and content marketing consultant. She also runs the food blog The PinterTest Kitchen with her mom and sister. You can follow her shenanigans on Twitter (@allison_boyer) or contact her at allisonmboyer@gmail.com.


Feedback

40
  • kirstenwright

    The small amount of users who are utilizing pinterest in a way that is unfair to the original creator is small. The benefits of leaving your site open for pinning are so much more than the pitfalls. I am a firm believer that all sites should be open for pinning. Especially because the true credit can always be found with a little digging :)

    • allison_boyer

      @kirstenwright And the entire point of Pinterest is to share original sources so you can find more cool stuff, so I think a lot of users are going out there and doing the digging work on things that are pinned incorrectly.

  • blogworld

    @amanda0620 thanks Amanda. That means a lot coming from a Pinterest addict =p

    • amanda0620

      @blogworld I do have a serious problem. I need a pinterest addicts anonymous group. You made some excellent points about its value :-)

      • blogworld

        @amanda0620 dont ask @typeamom you guys will just enable each other =p

        • typeamom

          @blogworld @amanda0620 oh yes. Let’s enable. ;-)

        • amanda0620

          @blogworld @typeamom But enabling is so much fun!

        • typeamom

          @amanda0620 @blogworld yes it is!

  • Wendykol

    @BudgetFairyTale didn’t get through the whole article yet..but I love when mine get pinned! Everyone should put their watermark on images

  • favorcraver

    Excellent post from someone who GETS content curation! RT @BudgetFairyTale Good article on the Pinterest debate. http://t.co/oNTiFtTu

  • piercingmetal

    I’ve not seen the value of Pinterest to a site like mine YET, but I surely don’t mind people pinning articles that they find interesting on boards that they have for their followers to examine. Since my site is based on review of music, I feel the more who share it the better the band I am speaking about does at the end of the day. With my blog its a little different in the dynamic but still, more exposure is better than less. I just have not really figured out how to make it work for me.

    • allison_boyer

      @piercingmetal I think it takes some time to get into the pinning groove. And I think one of the things I’ve found is that this isn’t a social network you can approach from a “how will this work for my blog” angle as much as you just have to use it as a consumer and go from there. But even if you decide it’s not for you, I don’t see the sense in blocking other pinners from pinning stuff on your site. Like you said, every share is a little more exposure for the bands you’re promoting!

  • iPRB

    @RizzoTees what differentiates Pintrest from Tumblr? Both largely link photos and re-link photos without much sourcing of content.

    • RizzoTees

      @iPRB By sourcing, you mean giving credit to the source?

      • iPRB

        @RizzoTees yes

        • RizzoTees

          @iPRB I do not know what differentiates them besides the fact that Pinterest has a ton of buzz surrounding it currently

        • DicemanSTL

          @rizzotees @iPRB I still don’t really “get” pinterest… I have an account but am having trouble making it useful

        • RizzoTees

          @iPRB I believe that, quite often, the source URL is provided, which is good for driving traffic

        • courtsloger

          @rizzotees @iPRB At least for me and my friends, Pinterest is much more of a consume-to-do site than consume-to-enjoy like Tumblr

        • courtsloger

          @rizzotees @iPRB And, it’s highly visual and easy to search, which makes great for recipes, fashion, DIY, home, art, photo, etc.

        • courtsloger

          @rizzotees @iPRB And regarding sourcing, I’ve discovered a bunch of new blogs never would have through Google result.

        • iPRB

          @DicemanSTL @rizzotees yea I think I will skip it. Don’t know what it really adds to my life. One individual only needs so much social media

        • RizzoTees

          @iPRB @dicemanstl I am working to figuring it out. What’s worth noting is how much ppl LOVE it. I hear no such talk or interest in G+

        • RizzoTees

          @iPRB @dicemanstl There are many social sites out there, but I’m afraid this one deserves attention

        • iPRB

          @courtsloger @rizzotees that makes sense.

  • atanas

    @HilaryPerkins Right. I am not concerned. I want people to pin my stuff.

  • PinterestClone

    Pinboarding is a create way to organize content. I am surprised it has taken so long for this to take off. Pinterest has done a great job and their growth over the last several months is a testament to that. I think you will see a lot of people cloning this like what happened with groupon. There are already companies doing pinterest clones like http://www.pinterestclones.com

  • Jane | Problogging Success

    I wouldn’t block Pinterest on my blog, not yet atleast lol. But I’ve also heard about skimlinks and stuff. Probably we should give Pinterest some time to test and see if it works for us :)

    • allison_boyer

       @Jane | Problogging Success I definitely agree with that – we need time to see how Pinterest develops.

  • Chromama

    I’m still at war with myself over the Pinterest issue.  I’ve done some pretty intensive research since I first posted about this issue on Sunday and while I *think* I’m following along with the viewpoint in the comments below, I did want to throw my 2c in re copyright in general.
     
    There appears to be four main issues that the Pinterest naysayers have.
     
    1) Original source pinning – most Pinterest users assume that by following a pin back to a blog or website and then pinning it again ‘from scratch’ from there, that they are covering themselves regarding attribution.  Not always the case.  If a third party has already ripped off your image and used it in a blog post of *theirs*, and that’s the post you’re pinning from, it does nothing to give credit where credit is due.  Kirsten mentions that true credit can always be found with a little digging – that might be true in some instances, but not all, and let’s be honest, nobody’s going to go on a ‘source crawl’.  That’s why the problem is so large in the first place – people just pin.  And Pinterest makes it very easy indeed to put as little thought into that process as possible.
     
    2) Original resolution images – unlike Google, which makes each image into a thumbnail (there was a court case recently that deemed the using of images in thumbnail format constitutes ‘fair use’) and does not store anything on their servers, Pinterest *does* store images and at whatever resolution it was first pinned at.  For example, my husband is a photog and offers his stuff for sale through a photography sale website that requires a hi res image (so that if someone orders a huge print, it will be crisp) and no watermark.  He has had images taken from this site, and they now flood the internet.  They are also on Pinterest, because either people are uploading them to Pinterest themselves under the guise of being the owner, or others are pinning from these sites assuming the website owner is the copyright owner of the images.  Flickr, though it has introduced a ‘no pin’ thing recently, is also incredibly easy to lift content from.  Once it has been downloaded to someone’s computer, and reuploaded to Pinterest as the ‘anchor’ to a blog post, it’s virtually impossible to trace ownership.  Pinterest can only remove what it is told about, and there’s no way to pinpoint every single time an image is repinned illegally.  Even if a copyright owner demands the original blog post remove the image, Pinterest has already stored it – and an exact duplicate, to boot.  Once it’s there, it’s as simple as right click and ‘save image as’…wha-la, free stock photography at hi res.
     
    3) Pinterest owns your photos – whether you’ve pinned them yourself (and their own T&Cs discourage self-promotion) or someone else has done it, once Pinterest has an image, it has the right to modify, distribute, and sell the image.  FOREVER (perpetual rights) and FREE.  You agreed to this when you signed up – it’s right there in the terms and conditions.  It doesn’t matter that an image might not be yours to pin – Pinterest says the onus is on you to only pin stuff where you can not *just* verify the original source, but where you have PERMISSION from the copyright owner to do so.  The vast majority of pins – millions and millions of them – do not even comply with this.  Essentially, just because you can verify the source and give attribution, it still doesn’t constitute legal permission to distribute.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy the idea of the perpetual licensing being granted to any site, but I hate it worse knowing that *others* are giving away my rights without my knowledge.
     
    4) Pinterest has no legal responsibility whatsoever should an individual pinner be sued by a copyright owner (who would be in their legal right to do so).  In fact, Pinterest states in their terms and conditions that not only are you liable for your own court costs, but ALSO Pinterest’s should they be included in the lawsuit as well.  Again, you agreed to the T&Cs when you signed up.  And no, the likelihood of a pinner being prosecuted is very small, but that’s not really the point.  Pinterest will leave you out to dry in a heartbeat – after all, you agreed to let them do it!
     
    I am the *first* person to laud the praises of Pinterest – I love it with the power of a thousand blazing suns.  BUT – just because everyone does it, just because Pinterest makes it obscenely easy, just because you give attribution….none of that really matters.  No matter which way you spin it, you *still* don’t own the images you post, and you’re *still* doing something illegal.
     
    That said – I agree that 98% of people who use Pinterest are not doing it for personal gain – I certainly didn’t when I collected my 900+ pins.  And I want to *keep* pinning.  Most people I’ve spoken to appreciate the extra traffic Pinterest brings and even photographers, or artists, or Etsy folk or bloggers don’t tend to be terribly upset if you pin one of their images as the anchor back to their site/post.  I wouldn’t.  I completely adore the visual aspect to bookmarking that Pinterest brings.  BUT – it’s still a very murky issue.  Pinterest does need to address the concerns about copyright infringement – the opinions of the majority, unfortunately, do not have the luxury of negating the legal rights of a few :(A quick note about the ‘opt out’ code – one statistic I read mentioned that a massive chunk of pins come directly from Google images, and not private websites or blogs…meaning an opt out code will only be useful in solving half the problem.
     
    http://www.chromama.net/2012/02/issues-of-copyright-is-this-the-death-rattle-of-pinterest/
    (If anyone is interested, this is the post I wrote on Sunday…there are some really good links at the end that might be helpful)

    • Rick

      Thank you for a really great comment Chromama! I bet almost no one knows about the T&Cs you mentioned in point #4. Scary stuff.

    • allison_boyer

       @Chromama I think you make some really good points here. And although I think Pinterest does have some problems (some of which have been recently fixed or at least worked on, some of which have not), I think we’re moving in the right directly. I like your idea about thumbnails. If Pinterest only allowed small thumbnails of an imagine, rather than storing the full size, it might help with some of the copyright issues since people would HAVE to click through to the original source.
       
      I also think that pinning directly from Google imagines should not be allowed.

  • Kristi Hines

    If the worry is about people not pinning directly from your site, but downloading and uploading your images as their own, then that isn’t just a Pinterest issue – that’s an Internet issue in general.  Using the opt-out code won’t make a difference.  If someone wants to steal an image badly enough, they can do it with or without the help of a social network.  I think they shouldn’t have allowed users to upload images directly in the first place to prevent image theft.

    • allison_boyer

       @Kristi Hines I agree that Pinterest isn’t really to blame here – it’s the users, not the platform! I’m not sure what I think about not allowing uploads. It’s a good concept, but then, I also like to see pictures of craft products, food, etc. that people who are bloggers upload to the site legitimately.

  • Melissa Clark

     @lgladdy I would love to use this on my WordPress blog, but I’m on WordPress.com. I haven’t been able to figure out how to use their “no pinning please” meta code on my blog site. Any recommendations?

  • GregMercer1

    @TheNerdyNurse @blogworld Thanks!

  • Annabelle83

    If you hate traffic? Yup probably bot many people with that reason to block Pinterest. I do have a photography website where I showcase my work – no text – so maybe this is something for me to think about.

  • sociallysorted

    @SunCoastGourmet Absolutely keep pinning! Check this out for some great examples: http://t.co/8WsnWNRn

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