copyright infringement via pinterest

Yep, another Pinterest Post.  It seems that everyone has something to say about it.
I love the site, I think its amazing not only for storage of your favorite things (instead of having to use your computers bookmarks feature), but also to discover new things!  I have found so many new blogs & shops that I might have not found if it wasn't for Pinterest.

This post isn't to tell you how to pin properly (don't worry I already covered that), instead this is a post to share the impact of Pinterest on an artist when not used properly! In a matter of a week I have heard how someones creation (from over a year ago) wound up on the cover of a magazine with no credit to them, I have also seen knock offs from big retailers of things that originated from the handmade community.  This is just one small story of a problem that is getting larger everyday.  Artists have started to call copy cats out.

I firmly believe in DIY & creating things for your home or personal use, but making revenue from stealing is wrong.. this is why we believe rules should be set in place to protect artists!  If these artists are not protected they might have to put blocks on their photos they share, where will the inspiration come from then? xo heather


Hello Just Lovely Readers! Its me, Leonora again. Heather asked me to do an important guest post based on a very recent experience I just had which in regards to a recent post she wrote about sourcing work on pinterest.

But before I get there let me start by saying that I am the shop owner and designer for Yellow Heart Art. I went to school for graphic design (yeah I know I'm shocked one can major in "Making things look pretty 101" too) What I loved the most about being a graphic designer was the fact that I could stare at a blank screen and then POOF ya start to add some fonts, some colors, some illustrations and bada bing ya got yourself a pretty fun looking graphic.

When opening up shop I knew I had to give Yellow Heart Art "a voice". Something that when people experienced my shop they can see my prints on someone's blog or someone's pinterest and go "ahhhh THATS HER!". I wanted my prints and artwork to be fun, light hearted, playful and unleash everyone's "inner kid".

Here is the breakdown as to what goes into one of my graphic prints (same goes for designing my plushies and necklaces!)

• Come up with a rad saying
• Go cross eyed by browsing through hundreds and hundreds of fonts
• Lay out the art work in black and white
• Go back and start to add color
• "never falling in love" with my first draft and revisiting it to see how to make it better (by adding more KAPOW if you will--will you?)
• See if it needs an illustration, if it does then create the illustration from scratch on the computer
• Save my art as a low resolution jpg to be uploaded to my shop
• Come up with a product description that involves sizing, materials, shipping timeline and fun facts about the print

In total creating a piece of artwork from start to finish could take me anywhere from 3 days to a week. And thats just the creating process, thats not factoring in my ever growing Microsoft work doc of all the fun sayings that pop into my head that I jot down all the time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I woke up to this in my inbox yesterday:

"Hi, I have long been a huge fan of your if you get eaten by a dinosaur print - i have a niece who would love it! I was looking on the Australian version of Etsy today, which is Madeit, and noticed three of your designs - I am hoping it is you, but people stealing others work is my bug bear at the moment, so I wanted to let you know! here is the link to the ones that I saw that reminded me instantly of your work…."

((Links to the other artist in question are not included in this blog post because honestly its not the right thing to do. The point of this blog post is to make people aware of stealing someone's art, not completely blowing up someone's spot by showing people their version of my stolen art))

I quickly clicked on the links and there it was--my art duplicated.

Now, I'm not talking about a "coincidence" I am talking 110% total COPY.

There was my colors scheme, my fonts, my illustrations, MY WORDING.

Days and days and days of original art that I worked hard on just stolen by somebody else that probably took them a few hours to do.

The best part? They actually watermarked the artwork so "no one else could steal it".

You can't make this stuff up.

After thinking long and hard what in the world to say to this artist I finally came up with this:

"Why Hello There! Do you recognize my user name? You might, since I have an etsy account by the same name. I have noticed there are 3 items in your shop that are 3 pieces of my original artwork.

The links in question are below. I'm a graphic designer who opened up their handmade shop as a way for me to have a creative outlet, create 100% original art, and have my artwork brace the walls of people's homes that really loved what I made. It was an amazing feeling knowing out there somebody wanted *my* artwork. I am so hurt to have stumbled upon your shop, see *my* wording and *my* artwork up for sale. My heart is sad because I took such a long time to come up with those sayings, those color schemes, those fonts, those ideas...and there it is up for sale in someone else's shop.

When you have a handmade shop *YOUR* personality should shine through, not someone else. You should be proud to stand behind your work knowing it is 100% your own. You should be proud to let your customers know that they are purchasing something you designed. I would really like it if you stopped selling my artwork. Like I said, I am more hurt than angry that another fellow graphic designer would steal another designer's work. Thank you for your time, I look forward to hearing back from you.

Sincerely, Leonora

PS-in case you are unsure which pieces of artwork I am referring to I am attaching *my* artwork below"

aaaaand exhale. I really had no idea what the person would write back.

Would they put up a fight? Would they deny ever seeing my art? Would they just shrug their shoulders, blow me off and leave it up anyway? Would they say sorry and just take it down? Will I have to take this to the next level? Why would they just copy another artist's work and claim it as their own?

As all these thoughts were running through my head I received a message back from the seller.

"Hello, Please note, I have removed the prints from sale. I'm sorry to have hurt you, I stumbled across your prints on pinterest, and being unable to trace them to a source, decided to recreate them. My apologies."

I'm sorry? You found my work on pinterest and because it "wasn't sourced" you just thought "oh hey, let me just re-create these bad boys and make it my artwork instead". Sourced or not sourced you DO NOT steal another person's artwork. Just because you can't find who originally made it does not mean it is "up for grabs" for the taking. Obviously SOMEONE designed it and SOMEONE worked hard on it. Even still, how do you even sell something to your customers that you are claiming is your own work that ISN'T your own work. There is no doubt in my mind that everything in that woman's shop was all stolen art. Her shop had "no voice". There was no originality, no creativity--nothing.

Do not get me wrong, I am THRILLED that she was so willing to take down the artwork. I mean, she really had no leg to stand on and did admit point blank "yes I copied your work". But just the fact that someone out there would do this is so discouraging. If I never got that email on etsy from that fan who found my art on another site I might not have seen it right away. By then that person might have sold a ton of *my* artwork.

I know this happens to a ton of artists who are not just graphic designers. I know people who design purses are hair accessories are dealing with "copy cats" as well.

Obviously we can't stop people from copying us. But we can try to source things correctly on pinterest-it might discourage others from claiming something that they think is "untraceable" as their own. Or maybe you are guilty of copying another artist's work, all I ask is that you stop and think for a moment what you are doing. Think about all the time that person put into coming up with that design. If the shoe was on the other foot would you want it done to you? And don't forget, you might have some nasty legal issues on your hand if you copy another artist's designs.

Pinterest is an amazing free tool to us, the abuse by people not understanding how to use it will cause this tool to possibly go away.  Respect others, use common sense and lets all be able to enjoy pinterest!


  1. That is actually quite worrying that someone thinks that is ok. Last time I checked, Etsy was supposed to be a community of people who make original and creative things... since when has printing people's artwork been considered creativity? That's just printing (and stealing!)

    Thanks for bringing this to light. I will never again lazily repin anything. x

  2. Makes me sad that this is such an issue.
    Its definitely one thing to create for yourself something you find, but selling it and claiming it as your own sad!

    You handled it very well! Better than I would have, for sure!

  3. I really appreciate this post. i come from a family of artists and see it time & again. It really does get your heart pumping when you see stuff like this. ya wanna pull out your fists of fury and go beat someone up, haha...i'm glad leonora took the high road.
    this is so frustrating. case in point:

    the real deal from my sisters:

    the copy-cat...actually saying it's a "look-alike":

    1. wha the WHAAAAT?! that is NOT a look alike that is point blank copying! how the heck do you DO that?! Not ok, thanks Danielle for sharing this and understanding where I am coming from, I am so sorry for your sister taht is TERRIBLE

  4. Thank you so much Leonora for sharing your experience in this compassionate, honest and intelligent way! I love posts like this-it isn't about calling out or finger pointing or I made it first. You so clearly express the love and talent that goes into your art + how hard you work to build a business that reflects your own personality. Sharing how hurtful it is to see someone claim that time/talent as their own you make it very clear how dangerous sites like Pinterest (& Tumblr + blogs that don't credit etc) can be.

    I hope that the more we raise these concerns and read/share/discuss these stories the more we can encourage businesses to think ahead + all of us to carefully consider before we get onboard with the next new thing.

    Our online creative world is small-we all need to take the time to create ethical business foundations, have a strategy, and respond to concerns from our community. So does Pinterest! I think they need to revisit their terms of service, issue a public statement and rebuild their service to be opt-in only + make it impossible to pin without a source/credit. If they start being open quick and work on changing these core issues they can save themselves from polarizing the makers of the content people are so quick to pin. There is an opportunity for them to set the stage for how people share content online while still protecting the rights of creatives.

    We are just revisiting our ethics theme that was so popular last March making this post is very timely for me. Would it be okay if I shared attributed quotes on Oh My! Handmade this month? I've also invited Anile to share her thoughts on Pinterest that she outlined so well here: love if you could make it to our Twitter chat on the topic! I bet we can make Pinterest hear us loud and clear then!

    ps-thank you for linking to my copycat/copyright post from our last ethics theme & sorry for my essay:)

    1. Jessika I REALLY enjoyed "reading your essay" :) at times it is not always easy to "take the high road" BUT I have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they didn't realize what they were doing was wrong so I try to educate people as well as mention my process as an artist when confronting someone.

      Unfortunately this is not the first time I have had this problem, thank goodness though each "confrontation" has always ended well with the person stealing my art or publication apologizing to me.

      You are right, we need to definitely emphasize the importance of this issue, as artists we have the right to be creative, put our work out there and have it be respected :)

      Thanks again Jessika! Bear Hugs!!! <3 <3 <3

  5. That's so ridiculous. I can't believe someone would actually think it was okay to copy your art and THEN SELL IT just because they couldn't find a link to you. I could maybe MAYBE understand liking it, hunting for it for a month or two, and then if still not being able to find it for sale anywhere, creating their own version for their personal display on their own walls, which is still not okay. But how can they not understand that this is practically the same thing as stealing your money?!

  6. So well written. Thank you! And thank you for not only sharing your story, but showing others how to handle it with grace. My goodness... you've got a very kind heart.
    Good Karma is sure to follow you :)

    Best of luck.

  7. I have emailed so many people at Etsy that their products are on major fashion websites(with no attribution) and I've told everyone, screaming from the mountaintop, to get the google search image app to track photos/images (and it does so brilliantly). I even have a page on my Tumblr Crafts' Blog titled: Dear Bloggers: Tumblr and Pinterest are NOT Sources. The argument from some people on Pinterest is, "I don't have the time to find the original source." And my answer is, "Then don't pin it." I track fashion, jewelry and crafts on Pinterest and its gotten totally ridiculous the number of pins that are from Tumblr or another websites that doesn't document the source either. I don't know what the solution is because people have pinned tons from my blog without going to the source (because I always compulsively link to the source) or to my specific post (they seem to have a harder time knowing how to pin Tumblr posts). And then I go through the boards trying to correct the pin that has by now been pinned thousands of times ie the LEGO Heart Pendant from Instructables that I collaged together for a very detailed post about where to get the cheap parts. Pinterest has to get its act together and do something because this is becoming so much more nightmarish than Tumblr.

    1. Thank you!!! "Google Search by Image" is awesome!

    2. Also, I might add that the foreign site duitang is publishing a massive amount of entire tutorials on their site that have been clogging up (due to the fact that they are entire tutorials) pinterest and even Craftgossip pinned from them (an original ragehaus how to make a sealing wax stamp) until I commented on the post. Also, the metspicture just published the same tutorial (unattributed) and again it ended up on Pinterest. My Pinterest is becoming horrible to look at because I'm having to scroll through long vertical photosets! And yes, google search image is awesome!

  8. Lovely post. That really sucks that people are so willing to copy, but at the same time, it's awesome the other seller was willing to take down all of your art work. If you hadn't contacted her though, it just makes me sick to think she never would have stopped selling the work! It sucks that people can't be more original and genuine...
    xo Heather

  9. That is terrible that someone would completely copy and then make a profit on your work.

    I used to love pinterest too and used it almost every day. That is until I was informed that anything pinned to the site becomes the property of pinterest and they can change/exploit/profit from it as they wish. That has completely turned me off from the site. You can also be liable for copyright infringement for pinning anything that you do not own the rights to or do not have permission from the owner.

    It's too bad because I got so much inspiration for there. I am hoping that with enough people talking about it there will be a change.

  10. I think this is fabulous. Seriously - one of the best blog posts I've ever ever read! (Although, I'm so sorry this happened to you. But kudos on taking your frustrating experience to educate others!)

  11. This is why if I put something from Pinterest onto my blog, I always link the image back to the original website. I want to make sure that proper credit is given! Thanks for pointing this out!

  12. I honestly try my best to make sure I am getting it from the correct source. I disagree in making a copy of someone else's work then making a profit on it.

    What is everyones opinion in copying someones wore purely for yourself? Not for payment of any kind..just to hang in your own home. This is something I find myself doing.

  13. This is such an important issue--thank you so much for bringing it up. I think blogs and all forms of social media have made it harder to protect our creative ideas and projects. I just joined Pinterest yesterday, and I am glad I read this post.

  14. Things like this drive me crazy. Yes the net is a fabulous way of finding art/crafts/inspiration, but it seems to be way to easy to steal other peoples work. I am getting more and more annoyed with the lack of sourcing on Pinterest etc. I may not be a great photographer, but that doesn't mean I want people stealing my photos. I do put a watermark on there, but it's very easy to remove these with items such as photoshop. How do you prove that something is yours apart from adding a watermark??

  15. Lady, you just articulated everything I think way better than I ever could have. Thank you! Srsly, enough stealing other people's creativity and hard work. Enough is enough.


  16. The web is supposed to enhance our creativity via inspiration but i guess it seems to be working for only a few of us.

  17. Ugh! I cringe hearing people's copycat stories (i've had my fair share when I was doing my stamped jewelry.)

  18. Wow. Seems so unbelievable that this happens, even though it happens all the time. Makes my heart feel heavy. Blah. Glad to read you were able to resolve your issue.

  19. Normally I do not learn article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thank you, very nice article.
    Also see my site > cialis

  20. I hate when someone copies whatever I do. Sadly, most people are copycats. You did well on calling out the ripoff and hopefully this will make you even a better artist since they are people ripping your art off.