Once you're signed up for Pinterest, the next step is using it as courteously and thoughtfully as possible. Whether you're a photographer or not, the work that goes on your page needs to be handled respectfully, so here are a few tips for being courteous on Pinterest. If you're a photographer, you know that it's the right thing to do. If you're not, remember that we're the ones with the cameras and we can make you look just horrible in pictures that will later be tagged on Facebook. You've been warned.
First things first: The only way to operate on Pinterest without the risk of running into copyright issues is only to pin your own work. Once you pin something from another site, you're stepping into an intellectual property scenario that is still playing out. Pinterest operates under the idea of fair use. Their users are commenting on the images, which, for the time being, makes them fair game for the site. That hasn't been tested in court, though, and it almost certainly will be in the future. Until then, know that the copyright situation surrounding Pinterest is a tricky one and thanks to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, all of the liability for violations falls upon the users who do the uploading (or in this case, the pinning). Will you get arrested or sued for pinning images? Very unlikely. Will this get more complicated going forward? Almost certainly.
Always try to preserve the original source link
Sometimes, when you're browsing images online, it's not always possible to tell where they came from. Especially with Imgur links, which are common on Reddit, there's often no way to find out who shot it. But, re-pinning an image like that is just further spreading an image for which the photographer is getting zero credit. Refrain from reposting stuff from sources that don't link back to the original. And if you're willing to take the time, don't be afraid to find the image on the photographer's own site and pin it from there if they allow you to do so.
Don't eschew safety precautions
As I discussed earlier, it will often be in the best interest of many photographers to enable Pinterest sharing from their own site so people don't just upload it somewhere else. But, if they have disabled sharing, don't run for the print screen button. You've basically just been told that the person who owns this intellectual property doesn't want it shared, and going around the protection and doing it anyway is disrespectful and possibly illegal.
Put the photographer's name in the caption
Many users cruise through images at warp speed and only a small fraction actually go to the source site from the image, so putting their name in the caption helps ensure that credit is given where it's due. That little thing could really help a photographer with stuff like his placement in Google search results.
Never EVER crop off a watermark
As I mentioned before, watermarks are a polarizing issue. They make some people downright mad. But, the fact of the matter is that the person who created the image put it on there and you have no business taking it off.