I woke up this morning to an email from Pinterest. Not your average Pinterest email, though. Oh no. This time I’m in trouble.
“We’re getting in touch to let you know that we received a copyright complaint and have removed one (or more) of your Pins …”
After about twenty minutes of absolutely freaking out (because I LOVE to overreact), I figured I should probably calm down, work out what had gone wrong, and put steps in place to avoid a copyright complaint again in the future. Pinterest is important to me and my blog, and copyright strikes can lead Pinterest to disable your account permanently. I don’t want that. No, thank you. Pinterest account importance aside, I don’t WANT to copy someone else’s stuff, accidentally or otherwise.
I started by taking a peek at the Pin itself, just in case I had used the same template as someone else and accidentally closely copied a design or something like that. It’s a good Pin, but it’s not my style. It’s not a Pin template I would use for my blog, so it couldn’t have been a design issue that caused the copyright complaint.
I then checked the title/text on the Pin. It was an Instagram marketing-based Pin, similar to some of the stuff I post on my blog, but it wasn’t a title I’d actually covered. I also check my work for copyright issues before posting to the blog. I was already pretty sure it couldn’t be a text-copyright issue. (And just in case you’d like to check out my Instagram tips, tricks n’ musings, you’ll find them HERE.)
To be honest, it took me quite a while to figure out what the problem was. The email sent by Pinterest wasn’t overly helpful, just a standard “you messed up” note that also had the option to “file a counter notification”, with a link to a form. I couldn’t do that all the while I didn’t know what I’d actually done — how I’d ‘copied’ someone else’s Pin. I did read through the terms and conditions, specifically, the copyright policy, and found an email address to contact so that they could forward me the copyright information they were given (with personal details removed).
It was when I clicked through to the link behind the Pin that I figured out the problem. The Pin’s link didn’t direct the reader back to the original site from which it had been Pinned from. Essentially, that particular Pin was a very popular one and had been “hijacked”. Someone had replaced the blogger’s original post link/URL with a different one. The link didn’t actually go anywhere, though. It simply opened up a larger version of the image. Either way, the blogger who created and then Pinned the Pin wasn’t getting the traffic they should have got from it, and I had a Pin on my feed that not only didn’t lead anywhere, but also looked to have been ‘stolen’.
No original blog link = no image credit = copyright problem.
I schedule Pins using Tailwind. It keeps my Pinterest feed constantly moving, and it also helps me to place things in the correct colour spot for my adopted rainbow theme.
As I trawl through Pinterest, reading blog posts, drooling over the most delicious recipes, and planning a closet I’m probably never going to own, I save posts that I find beneficial. But I don’t save them straight to my feed. I “send” them to Tailwind, saving them for later. When I schedule Pins for my own blog posts, I drop in the ones already saved.
I’m adamant that I check every single Pin before scheduling it, usually at the point of saving it for later. But today’s copyright issue kinda proves I’ve shared at least this one Pin without first checking where the link goes. I can only assume I straight repinned rather than saving it to share later (at which point I’d have noticed the weird link), or perhaps I just got a little complacent and missed it? Either way, the original Pinner requested that Pinterest take it away and give me a little telling-off, and that’s just what happened.
I felt so bad! 🙁
I thought about shooting the original blogger/Pinner a message to apologise, but there’s a little part of me that would have preferred they’d emailed/DM’d to let me know of the problem (which would have been clearer than Pinterest’s generic and vague warning email), rather than going through the DMCA takedown route. I’d have replaced the link, apologised profusely for my error, and made doubly sure to check all future Pins. I mean, I’ve shared quite a few of that particular person’s Pins in the past, all with checked, correct and working links back to their site …
They are well within their rights to do what they did, though. The non-accreditation (no link back to their site) is a copyright infringement. My vape photos are ALWAYS being stolen by vape companies, blogs and websites. It’s 10/10 annoying and I wholeheartedly appreciate how annoyed that blogger would have felt. I accept my smack on the wrist. Lesson learned.
How to Avoid *THAT* Pinterest Copyright Complaint Email
You *SHOULD* check every Pin before you share it on your feed.
You’re running the risk of sharing spam, of getting yourself in copyright trouble, and of leading your Pinterest followers to crap/not-relevant websites from hijacked/stolen Pins if you don’t. And for what? Saving two clicks (to the website and then back to Pinterest) and a couple of minutes of your time? It hardly seems worth it when you could be faced with actual copyright action for making a mistake.
As Pinterest says:
“If your account gets too many copyright complaints, you could lose the ability to save Pins on Pinterest, or we may disable your account altogether.”
How many copyright complaints is “too many”?
I honestly have no clue. This is my first warning. I’m going to make damn sure it’s my last … Just in case.
Don’t EVER change where the user is taken once they click on a Pin that isn’t your own.
This means putting a different URL in the link space to “hijack” it.
Why would someone do this?
To take advantage of a viral Pin.
If one particular Pin is getting shared all over the place, changing the URL of that Pin would direct traffic to the new URL rather than the one it originally promoted. In theory, it would enable the hijacker to steal that lovely influx of traffic. The reality is usually quite different. Smart bloggers check their Pins to make sure they aren’t hijacked, and then they fill in copyright complaint notices on the social platform when they spot Pins that have been. As previously mentioned, if you get enough of these complaints, you’ll get shut down.
Crappy Pinterest marketing strategy, right there.
But what if a link has been changed by someone else?
I actually think that’s what went wrong in my scenario. I repinned something that had already been Pinned incorrectly. Although I didn’t change the URL or deliberately use that image (Pin) without giving appropriate credit, I still shared something that had essentially already been stolen or hijacked. If I’d clicked through to the link before I Pinned the image, I’d have known that the link wasn’t right and I wouldn’t have shared it.
Sometimes, though, you won’t know if a link has been changed. How do you really know whether one website has “hijacked” an image that actually belongs to another?
Here are a couple of hijack signs:
Does the Pin have a logo or website/blog name on it?
Smart bloggers make sure that their website/name/logo is clearly visible on Pins, just like it is with images they’d share on social media/a blog. This acts as a watermark of sorts. You can use that watermark to tell whether or not you’re sharing content that could have copyright issues. If the logo on the Pin clearly states “ukwordgirl.com” but the URL directs you to best-ecig.co.uk, you’re probably looking at a hijacked Pin.
Does the Pin relate to the website/blog post?
If you’re clicking on a Pin that reads “5 Simple Ways to Amp Up Your Social Media Strategy” but the website you land on is a clothes shopping site, you’re probably looking at a hijacked Pin.
Can you see the Pinned image on the page you land on?
This isn’t always obvious now, because many bloggers, including myself, hide Pinterest-worthy Pins in posts to avoid screwing up the aesthetic. (There’s one hidden in this blog post. You can find more information about that here >How to Hide Pinterest Images in a Blog Post.) However, I have personally seen cases where Pins originating from Instagram have been hijacked — beauty/makeup images.
Let’s say that a beauty Instagrammer shares a makeup look on Pinterest and it gets a whole bunch of repins, going viral. A beauty roundup site (for example) could hijack that Pin, adding a link to one of their roundup blog posts. If you click through and don’t see the Pinterest image anywhere on the page, there’s a chance that you’re looking at a hijacked Pin. The roundup site is simply trying to make use of the high volume of traffic that the Instagrammer was receiving.
I really hope that I can help stop you from ever getting that Pinterest copyright complaint email with these tips, but I’d love to know if this has happened to you. Has someone hijacked YOUR Pin? Maybe you received one of these emails too? Let me know in the space below this blog post.
And to the blogger whose Pin I repinned when it was hijacked — I’m so sorry!