What kindergarteners already know about Pinterest

Kindergarteners know that it isn’t okay to copy someone else’s work without permission (and even if we said okay, we’d probably still want credit for it). I know the teacher said it was a compliment that they liked our stuff enough to copy it, but it still didn’t seem fair. That’s because it wasn’t. It was your work. Not theirs.


As adults, copyright laws allow the fairness police to monitor and enforce our right to not be copied… That tricky little rule pretty much sums up what we all felt as kindergarteners.

Now, to Pinterest. Isn’t Pinterest a lot like copying on a grand scale? As a Pinterest-ee, it feels like I’m giving a compliment when I pin an item (and I am), but does that make it okay? It’s easy to feel justified because “pinning” (if done correctly) sends traffic back to the original source. However, take a look at it from the kindergarten kid’s perspective again. You just copied someone’s work without his permission…even if you gave credit to Johnny (for some reason, it’s always Johnny), it’s now attached to you as well. It’s part of your “board.” So, is it wonderful marketing for Johnny as it continues to get “repinned” or is it just incorporating his work in with yours, hanging on the fridge to show off?


I have a page of wonderful free knitting patterns, that showcases designs that I love. Only a couple are my own. For all the others, I contacted the designers and asked permission to use the picture and link back to them. Every person, not only said “yes,” but thanked me for asking. They loved having their work included and felt good about it because I asked.

For people who do a lot of pinning, it isn’t very realistic to contact every person or site whose work you’re snagging. And, you’re probably right that most people won’t care at all. But, from a legal perspective and from a kindergartener’s perspective, is it okay? I am by no means advocating boycotting Pinterest or suggesting that you don’t pin my stuff- please do; I’d love the traffic! I just believe that you should think about it first with sites where permission isn’t explicitly given. You know… Think before you pin.

And, that whole conversation doesn’t even address the fact that Pinterest can actually change those links too. Then where does that leave you? For more on that, read the linked article below.

How You Could Get Sued For Using Pinterest

Also, have you ever wondered how Pinterest makes money? Check it out here.

[Update]: If you haven’t seen this post by Christine Gilbert, take a look. It’s a great discussion of copyright issues on the Internet. Also, for more on Pinterest, check out this article by AmyLynn Andrews

9 thoughts on “What kindergarteners already know about Pinterest

  1. “In other words, if you upload an image that doesn’t belong to you and Pinterest sells it, you could be sued for copyright infringement.”

    This is a little concerning, since so many social media gurus recommend pinning less of your own stuff as compared to other’s stuff.

    Honestly, Pintrest has been a great referral source for my site, resulting in new subscribers, so it’s been good for me. I would think it has done the same for those I have pinned their stuff too.

    Thanks for raising awareness on this, it makes me rethink my pinning habits to maybe only pin from someone’s site rather than using the Pin It from my toolbar.

    • I feel the same as you, and have been trying to sort it all out in my head… hence the post. One thing I wonder about is a button, link, or notice of some kind that gives permission on your site. I suppose it would be like Creative Commons. It may be able to be done in some way that would actually encourage people to pin your stuff when they wouldn’t otherwise think of it.

      I like Pinterest and think its a wonderful referral source and way to help with marketing great sites and products. Maybe sites need an “I encourage pinning” disclaimer? There’s got to be a way to make it work without infringing on peoples’ rights to their work. I understand the need for copyright laws, but they make it tricky sometimes.

  2. Very thoughtful post in a confusing area. Thanks for bringing it to the front for discussion and hopefully, some satisfying resolution. Pinterest has the potential for being a win-win site, but as you point out, it can be abused, even unwittingly.

    • Copyright issues are so frustrating because it’s not often not easy to do what’s right. I really try to be good on my site with being sure I only use pictures that have appropriate permissions and that I link them to their source, but it’s WAY more work to do it that way. Pinterest benefits the “pinned,” but I can also see how it isn’t our right to take. I just wish there was a simple way.

  3. I have been wondering the same thing lately. My sister told me she saw one of my knits pinned and sent me the Pin. I followed it and this person and some others have a whole page of my knitting and crocheted images. It felt unnerving. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. I don’t plan on making money with my images, but it would have been nice to have been asked. I felt guilty at first for not taking it as a compliment, but I just don’t.

    • At the bottom of my post, I added a link to a post by Christine Gilbert that I think is a good presentation of the details of copyright issues on the Internet. Take a look and see what you think.

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