What to Do About Stolen Pins on Pinterest

When someone steals your pin, they are usually stealing TRAFFIC. Here's what to do about stolen pins on Pinterest, how to file a DMCA notice with Pinterest for copyright infringement, and how to report stolen pins you run across from other people.Stolen pins are my nemesis. If it hasn’t happened to you already, chances are it won’t be long before someone steals one of your Pinterest pins.

Pinterest can be amazing for driving traffic, which is probably exactly why stolen pins are so rampant. Here’s what to do about them, along with ways to find out if someone has stolen one of your pins.

I tried to provide a through explanation of all things stolen pins, so this article is really long. If you want to just jump to a particular section, click one of the links below.

What does stealing a Pinterest pin mean?

First, let’s talk about what stealing a pin means. Basically, stealing a pin means that someone has taken a copy of a pin image you made to promote your blog post and:

  • uploaded that image to Pinterest with the URL going to their own site instead of your site
  • or uploaded that image to their own site (often as part of a roundup post)
  • or sometimes both

Why would someone want to take a pin?

There are several reasons someone might want to take someone else’s pin and use it for their own purposes. But the three major reasons are because they’re:

  1. trying to do a roundup, and use your pin image in their post
  2. a spammer trying to drive traffic to their site from as many different pins as possible
  3. an unscrupulous blogger trying to drive traffic to their site using other people’s viral pins

Let’s talk about the (likely unintentionally) stolen pin first, which typically happens in roundups.

1. When your stolen pin is used in a roundup:

Let me get this out of the way real quick: there’s nothing wrong with roundups that are done the right way. Roundups can expose readers to new blogs, and be a helpful way to create content quickly or to share related ideas. I am not saying roundups are bad. I’m saying that roundups done wrong can cause some bad things to happen. (More on that later.)

How it can happen:

For some reason, many people (wrongly) believe that anything they find on the internet is free to use, so they think nothing of including another person’s pin in a roundup without asking. They just download the pin, upload it to their blog, link to the site, and move on.

They see other people doing the same thing and assume it’s ok, not realizing it’s stealing. But in the US at least, images and blog posts you create are automatically copyrighted at the moment of creation.

They may even be trying to be helpful by taking a Pinterest image from your blog post and adding it to their site as part of a roundup post with a link back to your site. Then when they promote their post, they do so using their own independently-created pin. That’s usually the sign of a well-intentioned person who just doesn’t realize the problems uploading your pin to their post could cause. (Because if it’s done the wrong way, a roundup post can actually hurt your traffic instead of help.)

Roundups can be great IF you’re ok with another blogger using the Pinterest image you created in their post, and IF the roundup is done the right way.

Doing a roundup post the right way means:

  • getting permission to include the other blog’s pin in the roundup (such as by asking the creator, seeing a blanket notice on their website that it’s ok, or finding it from a roundup group where the creator gave permission.)
    AND
  • either adding nopin=”nopin” to the image source of that pin using code like this: <img src=”imagename.jpg” nopin=”nopin” />
    OR
    embedding the pin in the post instead of uploading it and adding it to the post (instructions for embedding a pin are here)

This is super important, because…

Here’s what can happen if a blogger does a roundup wrong:

If the other blogger has uploaded your pin to their site without marking the pin image as nopin, here’s what can happen.

Basically, any of the OTHER blog’s readers can easily pin that blog post with YOUR image. When that happens, whenever someone clicks your pin they go to the OTHER bloggers site.

Not yours.

It’s even worse if the pin that goes to the wrong site takes off, spreading all over Pinterest and going viral. Pinterest’s algorithm sees that version of the pin as super popular, and starts promoting it everywhere instead of the version that goes to your site.

Your traffic drops like a rock and goes to the other blogger instead. You will literally lose out on readers, page views, opt-ins to your email list, and MONEY if your site is monetized.

Why you should not ignore incorrectly done roundups, even if they are bringing you traffic.

Sure, you might still get a few people (or even hundreds of people) clicking through to your site from the roundup post each month. If you don’t get a lot of traffic right now, that could sound awesome, but that is nothing compared to the tens or even hundreds of thousands of clicks you could be getting from Pinterest itself from the viral pin. Traffic the OTHER site is likely now getting instead of you. Longterm.

So do not ignore incorrectly done roundups, even if they are bringing you traffic! (If your pin is good enough to include in a roundup and get traffic, chances are it’s good enough to get even more traffic on its own. Traffic that goes to your site.)

If someone uses one of my pins in a roundup, and isn’t doing it the right way, I politely email them and ask them to change it by adding nopin or embedding it instead. Their response (or lack of response) determines what I do next. (I’ll talk about how to report stolen pins later in this post.)

That about sums up the “good” kind of stolen pin, where maybe the person is just well-intentioned and confused, uninformed, or not technical. Now let’s talk about the other kinds.

2. When your stolen pin is deliberately placed on Pinterest:

There are many fake Pinterest profiles out there that are filled with obviously-stolen pins, often taken from many different sites. Those fake profiles are generally trying to drive traffic to one or more (possibly shady) sites that they are associated with in some way.

Those pinners (or maybe bots) straight up download your pin from Pinterest and then re-upload it to their own Pinterest account. They replace your link with the link to the site where they are trying to send traffic. (They’ve just chosen your pin because it came up in their search.) They are just plain stealing traffic. This happens even if the pin has your URL or logo on it. (Put your URL or logo on your pins anyway. It can make it easier to get spammers banned.)

Other unsuspecting people come across the stolen pins on Pinterest and share them because they look good. Still more traffic starts going to wrong site(s) instead of yours. Still more people share the wrong pin, etc. It’s not pretty. It’s even worse if they happen to have done this to one of your viral pins.

Now let’s talk about the last kind of stolen pin, which is sort of a combo of the other two kinds.

3. When your stolen pin is incorrectly added to a post and THEN deliberately placed on Pinterest:

This is actually the worst way to steal a pin, if you ask me. It’s unscrupulous bloggers stealing the hard work of other bloggers. (Luckily, it’s also the type I’ve seen the least. Most people are great.)

It happens when someone scours Pinterest for viral pins on a topic and creates “listicle” style posts using those pins. Note: They don’t take pins from people who have given permission. They just take as many of the most viral ones on their post topic that they can find.

They then upload those viral pins into their listicle post – leaving them completely pinnable – add a sentence or two about each one, and publish the post.

Next, they go around saving their post multiple times to popular boards, using a different stolen pin each time as the image to save. It’s this last bit that has me convinced they know exactly what they are doing. It’s why I report them with strikes all day long. (More on that later.)

The do this over and over again. Some of these blogs may not have any original content at all, beyond the few sentences they add in their posts.

They know those pins are doing awesome on Pinterest and bringing traffic to the creator, and they want that traffic for themselves. So they steal it, and profit from it using traffic-based advertising.

The bad thing is, they don’t have fake profiles filled with junk. They share other people’s pins too, in addition to those stolen viral pins. This means their profiles fill with great pins everyone wants to share, so their/your pins really spread, and it’s much harder to get Pinterest to ban them.

How to tell if your pin has been stolen:

How do you discover that people are stealing your pins? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way. (I sure wish could think of one!)

BUT there are several indicators that one or more of your pins have been stolen, plus a few ways to actively search for them. (See the Find Stolen Pins section later for details on how to search and find stolen pins.)

Signs someone may have taken your pin:

  • One of your pins went viral, and then suddenly your traffic drops like a rock. Viral pins can last for YEARS. Don’t assume that drop in traffic is due to an algorithm change, because chances are it’s not.
  • You start noticing traffic from an unexpected site in Google Analytics. When you check it out and go to thank them, you discover that your pin is in their post AND you are able to pin it from their site. (Remember, they may not realize why that could be a problem.)
  • One of your pins shows up in the Smart Feed or comes up in a search result, and it doesn’t go to your site when you mouse over it or click on it. (I’m pretty sure Pinterest would never deliberately suggest your own pin to you, unless you have multiple websites on similar topics, and multiple Pinterest accounts.)
  • Another blogger lets you know.

If you suspect (or know for sure) that someone has stolen your pin, it’s time to take action.

What to do when someone steals your pin:

So what do you do when someone steals your pin? It depends on the situation. You’ll sometimes hear people saying not to worry about it, but that’s the one thing I absolutely do NOT do. (Because stolen pins aren’t like stolen blog posts, which are often just disregarded by search engines.) I take action every time.

Here’s what I do when someone uses my pin incorrectly in a roundup, when I find spammers on Pinterest itself who are stealing lots of pins, and when I’ve found a blogger deliberately profiting off my pins.

If a pin is being incorrectly used in a roundup:

I try to pin it from the roundup to a secret test board of mine. If I can’t successfully pin it with my image, then I just thank the blogger for including me and let them know I’d like a heads up first next time. (So I can approve the use of the pin; sometimes I can’t allow them to use it, would prefer they use a different image, or don’t want them to do so at all. Although that last is rare.)

But if I can pin their post with my image:

1. I look to see if the person who used my pin in one of their posts also pinned their post with my image. If they have, I handle them like an unscrupulous person.

2. If they’ve only pinned the post using their own specially-created pin instead, or haven’t pinned it at all, then I email them and thank them for including me in their roundup. I explain that I’ve been having a lot of trouble with people pinning my pins with links to their site when my pins are used like that. Then they spread all over Pinterest, and I lose out on a lot of traffic. I ask them to either use the nopin=”nopin” tag on the image so it can’t be pinned from their site, or to embed the pin instead of having it uploaded to their site. I give them the link to how to embed. (Sometimes I even offer to guest post for them, since they must like my content.)

3. I file a Pinterest DMCA notice on all the stolen copies of the pin I can find, without giving strikes. (More on how to do that without hurting your own versions of the pin later.)

Basically, I try to be nice and helpful, because I’ve seen no sign they’re doing it deliberately. People like that are usually great to talk with. I’ve even had one share my post to their Facebook page later, sending a ton of traffic my way.

If it was stolen by a spammer:

Spammy sites and profiles are usually easy to identify. The sites may be filled with poorly worded or stolen content, and the profiles are filled with pins that mostly lead to the site(s) they’re spamming for. If I come across a pin of mine that’s now going to someone else’s site, and the URL it’s going to is something like example.com/keyword-heavy-page-link.html then I do the following using the desktop version of Pinterest:

  1. Open the pin in a new tab so I don’t lose it.
  2. Click on the profile of the person who pinned it, click Pins, and mouse over their other pins to see where they lead as well.
  3. If the vast majority of the other pins lead to normal sites, I just submit a DMCA notice to Pinterest for my stolen pins without giving strikes.
  4. If the other pins on that profile also lead to a bunch of spammy sites, and I can easily email the bloggers they’ve stolen from, I do so. (Usually along with a suggestion to report them with strikes, and to NOT choose Remove all.)
  5. If it’s not clear which sites the pins were stolen from, I open 5 or 6 of the pins in new tabs, and report them to Pinterest as “this pin isn’t useful”. (More on how to do that later.)
  6. I submit a DMCA notice to Pinterest for the ones they’ve stolen from me, and give them strikes. (More on exactly how to do this later.)
  7. I go to https://www.pinterest.com/source/example.com/ (changing example.com to the url of the spammy site) and look for additional pins stolen by that site. I report and/or submit DMCA notices as necessary. Try to keep from going too far down the rabbit hole here, as it can get time consuming otherwise. But I at least try to find mine and report a few of the most obviously stolen ones from other people.
  8. For spammy sites that keep coming back after Pinterest removes them (usually with a redirected URL), I report them to Adsense and Amazon if they’re using those to make money. Try to hit ’em in their wallet, in other words.

If your stolen pin is incorrectly added to a post and THEN deliberately placed on Pinterest:

Luckily, I’ve only discovered this happening once. A site took one of my very viral pins AND several other people’s viral pins on the same topic. They created a blog post, uploaded the pins to it, and pinned it with links to THEIR site instead. They’ve done the same to many other people in the past. While I didn’t follow this exact process when it happened, it’s what I’ll do if it happens again:

  1. File a DMCA notice with Pinterest on all the stolen copies I can find. I give strikes on every single instance pinned by the thief, but NOT on instances that regular people repinned. (More on how to remove pins without hurting your own versions of the pin later.)
  2. Save a copy of their webpage that contains my stolen pin using File > Save As in the browser.
  3. Email them and tell them exactly why what they are doing is wrong, and explain that they need to change all instances of stolen pins by either making them nopin=”nopin” or embedding them.
  4. Demand a specific remedy such as them repinning my ORIGINAL pin (with a link to my site of course) multiple times to every appropriate board they have and promoting my post on all of their social media channels.
  5. See how they act in response to that email. If they don’t follow through by doing the right thing after a reasonable amount of time, contact the other people they are doing this to so those people can report them as well.
  6. Consider reporting them to any advertising networks they are using.
  7. Consider suing them for copyright infringement.

If that seems harsh, it’s meant to be, because they are literally making money off my hard work by stealing traffic — traffic that should have been coming to MY site instead. Traffic that WAS coming to my traffic instead in fact, until my viral pin was overtaken by their version.

How to actively find stolen pins

If you want to actively search for pins of yours that may have been stolen by spammers, there are a few ways to do it with Pinterest itself. You can use Pinterest’s text search, visual search, and “More like this” features to do so. Unfortunately, the best method is pretty time consuming, but it could be worth doing for your viral pins.

Using Pinterest’s text search feature

You can do a search on Pinterest for an exact phrase that you know is in your pin description, or for the general subject of your pin. Just add the phrase to the search bar, do the search, and scroll til you can’t stand it any longer. (This is typically the best way to find pins stolen by spammers.)

Here’s an example of how I did that for one of mine:

I searched for a phrase I know my pins relate to:
Example of doing a Pinterest search to look for stolen pins

Then scrolled through the results to see if any of my pins showed up.

Sure enough, I discovered this one:

I moused over the pin to make sure it went to my site and not someone else’s. It did go to my site, so I kept scrolling until I came to a different pin of mine that WAS stolen by a spammer. I opened that pin in a new tab and saw this:
A pin someone stole from me

I clicked on the suspicious-looking profile of the person who pinned it, click Pins, and moused over the other pins there to see where those pins led.

It turned out that their profile was filled with a bunch of obviously-stolen pins, plus a few valid ones. I searched through their pins to find ones to report, and started that process.

Using Pinterest’s “More like this” feature

You can do something similar using Pinterest’s “More like this” feature. To do so, you’ll first need to go to one of your own pins. Click on it to open it, and then just scroll down to see a whole bunch of pins that Pinterest thinks relate to your pin in some way.

Each time you see one of your own pins there, mouse over it to make sure it’s really going to your site. If it doesn’t, open it in a new tab so you can report it later.

Side note: this is also a cool way to find valid pins from other people to repin.

Using Pinterest’s visual search feature

This method can be pretty hit or miss, depending on the pin itself and what Pinterest thinks it look like. But it’s easy to do.

You just:

  1. Click your pin to open it
  2. Click the visual search icon:
    Visual search icon
  3. Scroll through the results that appear along side it.
  4. Open any stolen pins in a new tab so you can report them.

How to find additional copies of your stolen pin

Stolen pins are a little bit like roaches: if you see one, there are probably more lurking. To stamp them out, you need to be persistent. This is ESPECIALLY true for your stolen viral pins that ended up on Pinterest via a large site and/or a popular pinner.

Start by finding as many copies of that particular stolen pin as you can. Each time you find one, copy the entire URL of that pin and save it somewhere. If the person/site who stole the pin pinned it, make a note to report that instance as a strike.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this for pins that are actually IN someone else’s blog post is with an advanced Google search. If you’d like my free step-by-step cheat sheet on exactly how to do that, just fill out the form below.









Want the search cheat sheet?

Just sign up below to get the cheat sheet plus occasional tips.


Privacy Policy

Once you have the URLs for as many stolen copies as possible, file a DMCA notice. (Pinterest will take them down shortly after they get the notice.)

You’ll probably need to do this process multiple times to stamp out the stolen versions, especially for viral pins. I actually do it every couple of weeks for one of mine, and it’s finally starting to die down. It’s a pain, but it’s worth it. My traffic started coming back right away though after I did a strike against the person who stole that pin.

How to file a DMCA notice with Pinterest without hurting your own pins

It’s actually really simple to file a DMCA notice with Pinterest, since they have a form you can use. Here are step by step directions for filing the notice there once you have your list of stolen pins.

  1. Go to Pinterest’s Copyright Infringement Notification Form at https://www.pinterest.com/about/copyright/dmca-pin/
  2. Enter your Name, Address, Country, Phone Number, and Email Address. (If you have a PO Box as the business address for your blog, use that.)
  3. Leave the Please describe your work drop down set to An image.
  4. Paste in the URL of where Pinterest can see the pin on your own site.
  5. Scroll down to the Identify the allegedly infringing material on Pinterest section. Paste in the URL of the first stolen pin you found.
  6. Important: Always leave the Remove all checkbox blank, unless you want all your own copies removed too. (Not sure why someone might want that…)
  7. IF the thief pinned it, check the Strike checkbox. Otherwise leave it blank. (Pinterest may terminate users who have multiple copyright complaints, which is a good thing.)
  8. Click Add another to add the next pin you want to report.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 until you’ve added the URLs of all the copies of the stolen pin you found.
  10. >Check all of the checkboxes under the By checking the following boxes, I confirm: section.
  11. Type in your name and click Submit.

How to report other people’s stolen pins

Sometimes you run across other people’s pins that are obviously stolen. Since those pins aren’t yours, you can’t personally report them using a DMCA notice. Contact the person the pin actually belongs to and have them file a DMCA notice with a strike. (Warn them not to click Remove All.)

DMCA notices are ideal because they are much more effective, but the person who holds the copyright has to file it. If contacting the blogger isn’t possible, you CAN still bring the stolen pins to Pinterest’s attention. Here’s how.

  1. Start by opening some of the offending pins in a new tab.
  2. Click the 3 dots on the pins to get the Report Pin option.
    3 dots
  3. Once you’re on the Report pin option for each pin, choose the most appropriate option:
    • This is spam > This pin is from a fake account (if they’re clearly being pinned by a fake/spammy profile)
    • This Pin isn’t useful > I can’t find the image on the site (if the pin can’t be found when you try to pin it from that page)
    • This is spam > This pin is spam (Pinterest’s support has said this is a valid way to report it, even though the pin ITSELF isn’t spam. But since there’s no way to know how Pinterest handles that, it’s safer to contact the person the pin actually belongs to and have them file a DMCA notice instead.)

How to help stop the spread of stolen pins

There are some easy things you can do to help stop the spread of stolen pins.

If you’re pinning from a desktop, mouse over the pin and make sure the URL it’s going to matches the URL or logo on the pin.

If you’re pinning with the Pinterest app, click the pin you’re planning to repin. Make sure the URL or logo on the pin matches the “Article from” section. Of course, if you do come across a stolen pin, report it real quick 🙂

Since I know this was a super-detailed article…

Here are the section links one last time in case you need to jump back to one quickly:

I hope this has been helpful! If you have questions or comments, let me know in the box below.

4 comments

  • Are you sure marking a pin as spam will not hurt the original pinner? Since Pinterest can recognize the image, will they mark every pin with that image as spam? Kind of like what happens when you report and check ‘remove all.’ Or does it just mark that pin or pinner or url? Sorry so many questions. I just want to make sure I’m not accidentally hurting a real blogger! I know a lot of bloggers who get marked as spam, and their websites are blocked for weeks! I would hate for that to start happening more. 😲😲😲

    • Jackie

      Pinterest’s support has said all 3 ways I mention above ARE appropriate ways to report a stolen pin, but I’m nervous about that too since I can’t know their internal workings. So I usually just stick to these 2 methods the vast majority of the time, as I don’t see how those could possibly hurt the original creator of the pin: This is spam > This pin is from a fake account (if they’re clearly being pinned by a fake/spammy profile), and This Pin isn’t useful > I can’t find the image on the site (if the pin can’t be found when you try to pin it from that page.) In other cases it’s ideal to email the actual owner of the pin and have them file the DMCA notice. I’ll update the post in a bit to make that clearer. Thanks for the question!

  • Amy

    Great post! Thank you so much! I’m a seasoned Pinterest blogger, but you taught me some new things!