Thursday, March 01, 2012

Takedown: How Pinterest moved fast to remove my pinned images (#2)

Do you want to get your images removed from Pinterest quickly and easily?  If you do read on.

This is Part 2 of my post about remedies to the problem of images appearing on Pinterest without permission.

In yesterday's post - How Pinterest removed all my pinned images in minutes (#1) - I found how to
  • identify just how many images 
  • reviewed why it is wrong to pin without permission
  • started to comment on the images in question - but got frustrated with the notion of doing each image one by one
I decided the best way to get an instant result would be to try for a site-wide solution.  Not only that I decided to make sure that the take down notice applied to all six sites on which I've already implemented the meta tag which prevents images from being pinned.

The reason for reading on is I succeeded in being able to get images removed from all six sites. I had most images off the site in half an hour and the virtually all the rest within the hour (just one outstanding to date).

What it means is that:

  • you don't need to contact the member who pinned the image
  • you don't need to do endless takedown notices for one image at a time.
  • this is the speedy version!

First study the Pinterest Copyright page

I studied the How to Report a Copyright Infringement page on Pinterest.  This states
In accordance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, the text of which may be found on the U.S. Copyright Office website at, Pinterest will respond expeditiously to claims of copyright infringement committed using the Pinterest website (the "Site") that are reported to Pinterest’s Designated Copyright Agent, identified in the sample notice below
This page provides a numbered process to follow.  I didn't follow all of it because I've done this several times and know pretty much what they need to know to take action.  I explain this in my annotations to my email letter below

Next draft a Takedown Notice

Let me explain a little bit about the background behind the letter I sent them before you read it.  I've been issuing takedown notices for about six years and during that time I've learned a few things.  One is that you need to be very assertive and very firm.  If you know you're right you need to explain matters clearly to the host - and then tell them how long they have to take action - and what you'll do if they don't.

To be honest it just saves time.

the image referenced in the email
The view of the Winter Garden from the Orangery at Dunham Massey

11" x 16", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencils in Moleskine Folio Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Here's the email I sent to Pinterest.  My annotations of the letter are in green.  I always keep in mind that somebody on their website is doing wrong and I am TELLING them to follow the law.

Bottom line - this is NOT  a request - it's a factual statement of the wrongdoing and an instruction as to what they must do as a result.

[UPDATE:  The email address for all letters like this is - I was so sure I'd already included this info - but apparently not!]

This link is to an image on your site which is "all rights reserved" on my blog - see (This provides an example image and provides the evidence of where it came from)

The use of it on your site fulfils none of the "fair use" exemptions for copyright purposes. It is being used for decoration. (This addresses the "fair use" issue)

No permission has been sought for its use. I note that means the action by your member contravenes the membership agreement.  (The Pinterest membership statement says that all images pinned to the site must belong to the Pinterest member or they must have permission to use it.)

Use of copyright protected material without permission is illegal under copyright laws.

My Travels with a Sketchbook blog states (this is my statement of my copyright notice on this blog.  Do you have one on your website or blog? Have you given due warning to anybody wanting to copy your images? You don't actually need to have one if you're British as our law automatically gives u copyright over everything we produce without any need to register.)
Please do not copy without permission
Important Note
Copyright is reserved on all images and text generated by Katherine Tyrrell.
Copyright is retained by originator for all images and text generated by others and used with their permission or within the context of 'fair use'.
Contact me if you want to make a copy and use any text or images for publication elsewhere.
All spam blogs will be reported for copyright infringement.
Copying for commercial use is subject to license and a fee.
"I hereby state that I have a good faith belief that the disputed use of the copyrighted material or reference or link to such material is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law (e.g., as a fair use)." "I hereby state that the information in this Notice is accurate and, under penalty of perjury, that I am the owner of the copyright or of an exclusive right under the copyright that is allegedly infringed." (This is the paragraph that Pinterest ask you to state to them.  I amended very slightly to reflect what I was complaining about)

I live in the UK. My telephone number is ex-directory and my mailing address is private. Both will remain so. You can contact me on this email address. (They asked for personal information which in my opinion they did not need.  I never give my personal information to people who are careless.)

This is merely one of several copyright infringements relating to my own images and images which I have written permission to use on my sites. (This indicates this notice is not just about one image.  I didn't count and state the number of images involved - but I could have done)

Below is a list of all the websites which your website members are banned from (the meta tag is in place on all these sites) (This is a list of all my sites - you may only need to highlight one)
Please ensure that any images obtained from any of the abovementioned websites - and pinned to your website - are removed from your site within the next seven days. (Note I've given them a reasonable amount of time to take the images down given the number of sites I've notified.  This is actually more appropriate to a one person site than one which has a team of development staff)

Please note it is also my practice to report all websites which infringe my copyright to both Google and your host IP if the offending material is not removed. (Been there, done that and got the T shirt - and more than once.  This sentence has impact.  Google can de-index their site.  Their host IP requires them to act lawfully and can boot them off their server.  This is a big deal.)

I will also start calculating the licence fee for the use of the various copyright protected images on your site as permission has at no time been sought by anybody for the use of these images from my websites and blogs (and would in any case be refused). (If you have an established track record in selling artwork and reproductions you have a basis for charging for the licence they do not have)

I have the #3 art blog in the UK and will be highlighting your response to this takedown notice and the length of time it takes if it is not immediate. (not something everybody can say - but in the context of my blogs it's worth a mention.  It's also easily verifiable by looking at my blog!  This statement has PR clout!)

Katherine Tyrrell

Artist and writer Katherine Tyrrell draws and writes about art for artists and art lovers
Making A Mark is #3 in the top 25 art blogs in the UK
1.3 million visitors and counting......
In summary

So in a nutshell, at 23.05 on 29 February 2012, I sent an email to Pinterest.  This is what it did:
  • referenced an offending image
  • identified my copyright statement for that site
  • asserted my rights over my images
  • identified all the relevant site URLs where I want a site-wide approach to be implemented
  • stated what I want to happen and by when (I am not making a request - I'm telling them what they must do in law)
  • advised them what action I will take if they take no action - specifically
    • notify Google and IP host - either of which could effectively  take them off line
    • invoice them for the cost of the use of my images on their website
    • identify how they respond to the Notice in a blog post which has rather a lot of readers
How Pinterest responded

At 23.39 (GMT) on 29 February 2012 a Pinterest member of staff responded.  That's a gap of less than 35 minutes.  Virtually all my images had already been removed from the site. (I'll explain why it wasn't all images in a minute)

This is the email letter I got back.  It addressed the problem and told me that they had resolved it.  It also told me how I could monitor my sites.  It was a very good response.

I'd now expect that all people notifying Pinterest of similar problems will get a similar response.  Please feel free to quote my experience if you feel you're getting the "runaround" - and leave a note on this post.
Hi Katherine -

You recently notified Pinterest of a belief that copyrighted material was being made available through without authorization. We confirm that we have removed such material.
We've removed the pin you cited, as well as all pins/re-pins from the domains you listed. You can monitor a whole site using the following URL convention:

Please feel free to reach out to me personally with any questions.
Aaron Franklin
Pinterest - Community Specialist
I then responded as follows
Many thanks Aaron for the extremely prompt response. It's appreciated and will be duly noted in my blog post.

I'll also be making my subscribers and other art bloggers of aware of this process re websites. It's most helpful.

Can I suggest you introduce:

  • a reminder to people of what the membership agreement states re ownership or permission BEFORE they finish the process of pinning (ie no scope for ignorance or silliness)
  • you provide a "dummies guide to copyright" on your site. I'm constantly amazed at the number of people who think it's OK to pin somebody else's work even when the website states all right reserved.  People need to be very clear and continuously reminded that the fact that you can see an image on the internet does not mean it is in the public domain.
I think the idea behind the site is interesting. I think it could become a good site so long as it diligently addresses the copyright issues.

The thing is I shouldn't have to do anything to preserve my images. The onus is wholly on you to prevent your site being in any way characterised as encouraging copyright infringement as it is at present. I believe there are some useful court cases which provide precedent which you need to be aware of

By you I of course mean the corporate "you" ie Pinterest

Katherine Tyrrell
A little while later I went through and checked every domain - and I was annoyed to find a lot of images were still present on the site So I wrote another letter
Removed from every domain? See A couple of examples - I have a major problem with images where:

Am I going to have to check every single domain every single day?

None of my sites allow ANY images to be pinned.

The next letter goes direct to Google and your IP host.

Katherine Tyrrell

which was then followed up by another email which queried the batch of images relating to

It turned out they didn't appreciate that is different to They'd tackled the first and not done anything about the second. Aaron's reply apologised for the continuing problem
Hi Katherine -

My apologies - I did a thorough sweep of the other sites, but just learned that URLs starting with www need to be truncated to search, e.g.

I've removed the remaining pins - thanks for double checking my work. The pins were pinned before you added the code to your site. Now that you have the code on the sites, you do not need to monitor activity from these sites.

I just want to add that we are aware of confusion with our terms of service, and are working on making our terms of use - and our intentions - more clear. Rest assured, we are listening and putting the necessary pieces in place as we grow. We are committed to making our passion for content discovery beneficial to everyone, including both users and the creators of the content we love so much.

Aaron Franklin Pinterest - Community Specialist
Moral of the story - check all URLs thoroughly!

 My impression is of a team of people who know they've cocked up  - note the admission of the problems being experienced in the final paragraph - and they are trying to remedy the situation.

 I understand that there are moves afoot to change the way Pinterest works so that the terms of use are a lot more transparent and there is less confusion in terms of the inherent contradictions which exist at present.

 Mishaps aside, the customer service I received was very good on the whole.  I'd expect everybody else to get the same quality of service - hence why I have detailed what happened to me.  Please feel free to reference this post by way of setting out your expectations! :)

Now if they could just sort that one final image which has not disappeared from the site I'd be a happy bunny!

 If you want to get to know more about the man behind the site read this blog post by Kirsten Kowalski My Date with Ben Silbermann — Following Up and Drying My Tears.  This followed on from Why I Tearfully Deleted My Pinterest Inspiration Boards which is a helpful explanation of what's wrong with Pinterest in its current incarnation.  So helpful it took down her site as her bandwidth was exceeded by a mile!

What's been your experience?

Do feel free to use this post to describe 
how you've got on with trying to get images removed from the site. 

If you need more help and information see below.

More information See also my two posts about protecting your images and the first half of this post
Plus I'm logging useful links to more information and advice on Copyright - Resources for Artists | Pinterest: how to identify and tackle copyright infringement