securityguardflickrI do most of my e-book shopping on Amazon, and via my public library.

But sometimes, I come across new books via author blogs and press releases. Pinterest has been a convenient way for me to bookmark these interesting posts for later examination.

I hadn’t thought too much about the mechanics behind it. I figured that if something was private, it wouldn’t be posted online, and that material uploaded to blogs and websites was intended to be discovered. But last night, I got a notice from Pinterest that some of my pins had been removed due to copyright violations.

I was not in any trouble, Pinterest hastened to reassure me. Simply re-pinning someone else’s pin was not a violation—indeed, it’s Pinterest’s primary function. But someone complained about that original pin that I re-grabbed:

“While many copyright owners are happy to have their content on Pinterest, we recognize that some do not want their content to appear on Pinterest, or did not receive attribution for the content. When a copyright owner sends us a complete notice per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), it’s our policy to remove the Pin(s).”

So, what gives? Why would someone not want their work to be “pinned”? Firstly, many blogs make their money based on page views. If a person browses via Pinterest and doesn’t click all the way through to the source page—in other words, the image itself was enough and they did not seek out the context—those blog owners don’t get any compensation for their work, even if the pinned image is very popular. Secondly, many artists post thumbnails of work which is for sale. They would like you to buy it if you like it that much.

Personally, I think we are due for a fundamental shift in how online privacy and control over content is going to work in the future. I have only just begun to introduce intellectual property concepts to some of my classes, and just last week, as part of a photography study, we looked at the monkey selfie story in my Grade 1 class. They readily grasped the concept of the one who takes the picture being in charge of it, and chuckled over the notion that the monkey could go to court in a little suit and ask the judge to give him money. But when I asked them if it meant they could use the picture themselves, their answer was confident, and immediate: of course we can. It’s right there on the SMARTboard!

I think it is going to be an uphill battle to convince this cohort, growing up in a world where the Internet always existed and iPads were a fact of life since birth, that re-pinning a photo on Pinterest is wrong. They will pay for the media they use—I know we do in our house, and our kids will grow up with that reality. But social media is so ingrained with this cohort. It’s going to be hard to convince them that something cannot be shared. They will assume, as my first graders did with the monkey picture, that if someone did not want you to see it, talk about it, or comment on it, they wouldn’t have put it online.

Lesson learned for me, in any case—Pinterest can give, but it can also take away. It’s not a secure place to bookmark content for later. I’ll have to start e-mailing links to myself if I come across an interesting book out there on the web.

Publisher’s note: I myself use Amazon’s wishlist. But of course that may not always be the most convenient approach and won’t work for nonAmazon-sold titles.  – D.R.

Image credit: Here (yep, CC photo).

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. You might want to consider trying out Evernote. Evernote has a web clipping tool that will let you save images and articles just like Pinterest, it’s private to you, and it has web, Android, and iOS apps so you can access your content from any platform. I use it as my own personal notepad app, and Amazon’s web-clipping wishlist tool for my wishlist (since my family use it to pick gifts for me), but if you’re wanting a private memory aid, Evernote might be what you need.

  2. I’ve seen this image of the obese rent-a-cop associated with at least two Teleread articles and in both cases was puzzled by the choice of image. Was I supposed to muster a particular POV to the article based upon this image? If so, I have failed miserably. I didn’t get it.
    As for the story itself, I am unable to discern any real copyright infringement. What exactly was made available vis Pinterest?
    The timidity of online systems in the face of unsubstantiated and possibly overreaching copyright claims is becoming legendary. All of this foolishness is driven by DCMA, an abomination of rational thought but par for American legislative thinking.

  3. @Frank: Many thanks for the feedback. A picture of a cop or rent-a-cop—thin or fat—was useful in making Joanna’s point. I myself chose it. People dislike being policed, and if that opinion came through, then fine. As for the exact items in question, Joanna can respond. Almost surely, however, she was talking at least in part about book covers. David

  4. I’ve not understood Pinterest from day one since it seems to be one big copyright violation to me. Sure – many have climbed onboard and want their work to be pinned but by no means does that mean that if something is online it’s free for the taking/repinning/reproducing, etc.

    I actually found your post in a rather fruitless search for finding out what’s up with Amazon’s removal of the Add to Wish List link on many, many books. I love the wish list function since I’m always coming across books that I want but don’t want to buy immediately and use my Amazon wish list all the time. But Amazon is up to something. I’ve not yet figured out the patterns but it’s affected a lot of books (I’m interested in hard cover or paperback editions so this may very well not be a Kindle phenomenon) and I can’t help but think that Amazon does not have good intentions with this. Nobody seems to have noticed or at least written about it yet.

    • That’s interesting; I hadn’t heard about the removal of add-to-wish-list buttons. Can you provide examples of books thus affected? I’ve noticed books have “Add to List” instead of “Add to Wish List” now, but the wish list is right there as the first choice when you click on it. Are you saying that’s not there either?

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