Wednesday, 2 September 2015

To Pin or not to Pin ...

...that is the question.

Whenever someone asks me anything about copyright my answer/advice is "When in doubt - don't". However when Pinterest was launched I merrily jumped in and signed up for an account. I was one of a few genealogists who was using the tool in the early days. Most of the users at that stage used Pinterest to clip recipes and for home decorating ideas.

I had to go on a waiting list to join Pinterest
Over the next few years I dipped in and out of Pinterest and eventually saw a number of genealogists embrace the platform. Several became pinning evangelists and started giving presentations at conferences so the genealogy community grew. I still couldn't see great personal benefits for this tool and as I didn't have space in my life to embrace another social media platform I just occasionally logged in and pinned something connected mainly with travel or food.

At a genealogy conference earlier this year I was chatting with a genimate that I respect, she shared her enthusiasm for Pinterest so I decided to have another look. Over the past few months I have set up several boards that I and others might find useful.  In recent weeks I have been pinning away and other genies have been repinning my pins.

Then I started to think about Copyright and wondered if I was violating copyright by pinning the images I selected. I did a little exploring on Google and was directed to this 2013 post from Judy G Russell, The Legal Genealogist (I suggest you read it in full. In her post Judy says "So does that mean you should stop using Pinterest? No. It means you need to be careful and stop and think about what it is you’re pinning." In her post Judy mentions things that likely won't get you into trouble.

Well, I haven't been careful. I need to go back to my boards and remove many of the items I have  previously pinned. I will heed Judy's advice when reviewing my pins.  

In future when I think of pinning I will heed my own advice "When in doubt - don't".

Do you consider copyright prior to pinning?


  1. Tough call. Most of my pins are actually re-pins, and there's no way of telling whether you're compounding someone else's error by re-pinning their images.

    Luckily, I'm not a fan of pinterest because I think it's been dumbed down. I commented on its Wikipedia page that their description of it might be doing it an injustice. It has become a glorified photo-sharing social-networking site, and the Wikipedia page was reinforcing that impression Before I played with it, I expected it to be a way of bookmarking items of "interest", found on the Internet, using a visual key, such as articles or even blog-posts. Their own help centre says " creative ideas" rather than "pictures" -- whatever that means. There are posts around the Web indicating how to share videos, slide shows, and even podcasts, but the site's identity is still ambiguous in my opinion.

  2. I not only consider copyright but also just plain old courtesy - always give credit where credit is due (whether you need to or not) and be aware if it is not your work you need to get permission. Err on the side of caution AND even when you do (Tony Proctor's recent article is a good example) you might find the person or company that gave you permission did not have authority to do so. Always try to find the original source (and I get that sometimes that is not easy). Interesting post Jill - and nice link to Judy Russell's post.

  3. Great food for thought. I haven't been careful either, so, I guess I'll be going back through my boards with you...

  4. Thanks Tessa. I am concerned that so many genies seem to be pinning without much thought (and I have been one of them).

  5. Thanks Tessa. I am concerned that so many genies seem to be pinning without much thought (and I have been one of them).

  6. Jill,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  7. I still don't get Pinterest for genealogy. I blog. I tweet links to my posts and helpful resources. I have a Facebook genealogy page. And I sort of use Google+. I can't fathom yet another social medium platform.

    What I would really like Pinterest to do, it doesn't seem to do or I haven't figured out how to do it. I vaguely remembered years ago when setting up a board, you could make it a community board and other people could post to it. Now, you have to specifically invite them.

    I manage the Slave Name Roll Project and would love to use Pinterest as a way for non-bloggers to contribute. But I don't know who those would-be contributors would be unless they tell me. If I had an open Pinterest board, they could pin information there. Instead, I will make another public Facebook page for the project.

  8. Thought provoking post Jill, I too have dabbled with Pinterest, but generally don't have time to be a regular user. I too will have to go back and reconsider some of the things I have pinned.

  9. Good points, Jill. I started off enthusiastic, too, then found out about the copyright issue (probably by reading Judy's post!) and backed away. As with all our genealogical activities, it's so important to check who owns stuff and to credit them if we use it.


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