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This post refers to Pinterest’s original terms of use agreement, which was changed on April 6,2012.  Please see the following post, Update: Pinterest, for additional information regarding the new terms.

Here’s one good reason I will never use Pinterest.  Do you realize that when you upload your images to Pinterest  YOU ARE GIVING ALL RIGHTS TO YOUR  IMAGES TO PINTEREST, FOREVER? This has changed; this post discusses the original EULA  to which members agreed, prior to April 6, 2012.

Don’t believe me?  Here is part of the user agreement:

By making available any Member Content through the Site, Application or Services, you hereby grant to Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, sell, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services.

(My emphasis, because Pinterest would rather you didn’t read this carefully.)

You post it, they own it, no matter what they chose to do with it in the future.  When you sign up for Pinterest, you agree to give up all rights to the images you post there.

This is the sort of EULA (end-user-licensing-agreement) that gives websites a bad name.  As it should.  Your images should never be given to any other entity unless you know exactly how they will be used, when, and where, AND you are in complete agreement with that use.

Do you think this is acceptable?  I don’t.  I don’t want anything I post on my blog to turn up in business materials produced by Cold Brew Labs, the owners of Pinterest.  I don’t want the images I willingly share, on my own blog, used in advertisements for Pinterest.  Or on  websites Cold Brew Labs might produce.  Or in books Pinterest may produce.  I’m not working for Cold Brew Labs; I chose to share what I share publicly for the benefit of my readers, and for myself, on my terms.

I won’t give up the right to do that, and I hope everyone who wasn’t aware of this paragraph in yet another of those hardly-read EULAs gives some serious thought to what Pinterest is asking you to give up.  Pinterest is NOT your own bulletin board; it’s a device for others to collect your intellectual property and then do what they wish with it.

As a side note:  How sleazy is it of Pinterst to hide these terms within a document they know perfectly well almost no one will read?

Most of us in the sewing/craft community love to share — that’s why we have blogs.  Many of us are sweet people who would never dream of an organization grabbing their property and using it for the corporation’s own devices.  But that’s exactly how Pininterst is set up.  You no longer own what you post there.

Pinterest could have set this up so that they allow you to keep the copyright you automatically own on your own intellectual property.  That’s how Pattern Review works, for example.  You allow Pattern Review to post your reviews and images, but YOU keep the rights to everything you post there.  Pattern Review does NOT own what you post. Taking away your rights is not part of their user agreement.  Pattern Review does NOT claim to own what you post on its website.

Pinterest DOES. This is a nasty business model, and, in my opinion, unethical.  It’s completely legal — you have to agree to the EULA before you can post — but it is, in my opinion, unethical.  I won’t contribute to that kind of business model, and I don’t think anyone else should, either.

Update, 5/2/2012:  The new terms still leave a lot to be desired.  As noted above, the next post discusses some of those issues.

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  1. LindaC
    May 2nd, 2012 at 11:25 | #1

    It looks like Pinterest changed its Terms of Service effective April 6, 2012. They must have listened to their users. I still won’t post pictures on the internet that I don’t want shared. 🙂 Wouldn’t the internet be boring without pictures? Anybody remember those “old days”? ha!

    • May 2nd, 2012 at 11:55 | #2

      Yes, you’re quite right, LindaC. I’ve left this post up because it addresses issues of concern, and because user agreements just like this one do turn up. For a look a the new terms, see the next post Update:Pinterest.

  2. May 1st, 2012 at 23:00 | #3

    Thanks for bringing this up.

  3. May 1st, 2012 at 20:57 | #4

    I have read the USER agreement, and cannot find the wording you quote above. Here is what I see:

    “Your content.
    Pinterest allows you to pin and post content on the Service, including photos, comments, and other materials. Anything that you pin, post, display, or otherwise make available on our Service, including all Intellectual Property Rights (defined below) in such content, is referred to as “User Content.” You retain all of your rights in all of the User Content you post to our Service.

    How Pinterest and other users can use your content.
    Subject to any applicable account settings you select, you grant us a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license to use, display, reproduce, re-pin, modify (e.g., re-format), re-arrange, and distribute your User Content on Pinterest for the purposes of operating and providing the Service(s) to you and to our other Users. Nothing in these Terms shall restrict Pinterest’s rights under separate licenses to User Content. Please remember that the Pinterest Service is a public platform, and that other Users may search for, see, use, and/or re-pin any User Content that you make publicly available through the Service.”

    This is from the document current as of April 6, 2012. The wording is different-it does not now claim the right to sell, or exploit, your content.

    All that said, I am respectful of your concern (as you well know). I continue to use the site as it is such a treasure trove and a great place to organize my creativity (NAYY).

  4. May 1st, 2012 at 19:13 | #5

    No, I didn’t know that! And I *thought* I read the EULA. I just use pinterest for inspiration photos that are from all over the ‘net; not personal blogs or websites. I never planned to post anything of my own there anyway; now I for sure won’t.

    • May 1st, 2012 at 19:21 | #6

      If you’re like most people, Lisa, your eyes just glaze over when faced with small print in a tiny box! Kind of what people like this count on.

  5. Shams
    May 1st, 2012 at 17:39 | #7

    Noile, quite a few of images from your blog have been posted on pinterest. You can see them here: http://pinterest.com/source/noile.net/

  6. LindaC
    May 1st, 2012 at 13:16 | #8

    I agree with you and it’s the reason why I don’t post pictures on the internet. I can control what I do with my pictures, but once they are on the internet, it’s difficult to control what others may do with them.

    Even well-intentioned people use photos from other blogs and websites without realizing that they are stepping across a line. What if one of those well-intentioned people post a photo on Pinterest that they found on someone else’s blog or website, like the photos from Anthropologie? Once it’s out there, it’s out there. One of the biggest problems I’ve read about Pinterest is that photos are losing their original ownership documentation.

    • May 1st, 2012 at 13:49 | #9

      LindaC, it’s true photos can lose the original ownership documentation as they travel and are posted by unknowing people. Unless the image’s metadata is erased, though, the original information remains with the image. No casual posted will go to the trouble of trying to erase the metadata.

      Some bloggers post images that are watermarked, which is easy to do, and that is another way of identifying your own. Well-intentioned people will not go to the trouble of removing watermarks to post on a social site, and serious image-thieves are unlikely to target personal blogs. They open websites like Pininterest, instead.

      Pininterest will have a huge battle on their hands if they try to use those second-party, third-party, and so on images. But they shouldn’t even be claiming ownership of first-party image posts. And it shouldn’t take a lawsuit to change that.

      A commenter here mentioned that she had posted an image of mine on Pininterest, and I asked her to remove it (explaining my concerns, of course), which she did immediately. That’s really the answer; it’s making sure that people really understand what happens with those images.

  7. Shams
    May 1st, 2012 at 10:52 | #10

    I agree, very sleazy. I haven’t posted to pinterest in ages, but I also have never ever posted any of my own pictures. I think if Pinterest starts claiming they own photos posted by people who don’t own them, they will be in legal hot water pretty quickly.

    For example, there are zillions of Anthropologie’s pics posted on Pinterest, but not posted by Anthropologie folks. If Pinterest starts re-using Anthropologie pictures as their own, the legal beagles at Anthropologie can come down hard. And they will win.

    Is this much different than Facebook? I hear they have a similar clause. That they own all pics that you post there.

    Sleazy sleazy.

    • May 1st, 2012 at 11:07 | #11

      Yes, Shams, I think Pininterst is looking for a world of trouble here, but nobody should have to file a lawsuit to make the point. Laziness is what unethical clauses like the EULA Pininterest uses counts on. Anthropologie has the bucks to fight Pininterest, but most bloggers don’t. And individuals users will have trouble recovering (their images or damages) if they’ve agreed to the EULA, which they all have. It will take a lawsuit to invalidate the EULA before individuals will get any relief.

      Staying off Pininterest is the best, immediate, plan. I like that option a lot, personally. Also publicizing these sleazy practices.

      You’re right that Facebook has similarly unethical policies, but, sheesh, is there ANY excuse for not knowing what sleazeballs the owners of Facebook are? They’ve compromised their users in every possible way, and the firestorm over their “privacy” (and other) policies are all over the Internet. FB depends on the ignorance of the vast majority of their users, many of whom seem to go nowhere else on the internet. It’s working for them, so far. No doubt Pininterest found the sleaze inspiring. I’m hoping people tempted by Pininterest will take a good look at what’s involved before they agree to that ridiculous EULA.

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