Is Pinterest Bad For The Cross Stitch World?

In the past, I’ve looked into two of the biggest online platforms in the cross stitch world and asked the questions is Etsy good for the cross stitch world? and is AliExpress both saving and ruining cross stitch, but the biggest thing about both of those sites is they both charge for things.
However, for almost a decade there has been another player in the cross stitch world which is all about giving things away for free, but also one that struggles with its own issues.
Today we ask the question; is Pinterest bad for the cross stitch world?

What is Pinterest?

The fact of the matter is that Pinterest, for good or bad, is a collection of images. These images come from all over the internet and are collected by anyone who wants to. What makes this slightly more interesting than say, Google Images, is that Pinterest has ‘boards’ you can create. Smaller collections with specific pins YOU want to add.
These boards get very, very specific.
Cross stitch patterns? Yep.
Cross stitch patterns of video games? Yep.
Cross stitch patterns of video games from the 80s? Yep.
Cross stitch patterns of video games from the 80s, only tabletop arcades, only male characters and from only one Japan-specific brand? Yep. It has 500 patterns in it.
These boards, despite how specific they are, still have loads of patterns and inspiration.

Good – Inspiration

There sheer volume of content on Pinterest is its best quality in my mind. Not only are there cross stitch and pixel art-related things, but general art too, meaning its perfect for spiking your interest in something new. That’s why we named Pinterest as one of the best places to get cross stitch inspiration.

Good – Free Patterns

Let me start with a small caveat here; free patterns that are legally free. This will be important later, but for now, let’s just look at the positives.
There are free patterns all over the internet. These might be from well-known designers, up-and-coming designers, or just someone drawing a pattern on paper. The sad thing is that unless those images are hosted on sites with good SEO, Google will never show them to you. This is where Pinterest really shines. Cross stitch patterns are filling up boards at a matter of rates, and most are from the deepest corners of the internet that don’t get any exposure.
One of the biggest areas that benefit from this is cross stitch fonts. We’ve spoken in the past about how hard to get hold of they are, and we even offer free cross stitch fonts and alphabets to help, but you might want more options. These images aren’t normally well-tailored to appear on Google, so are often overlooked. But thanks to Pinterest, there are loads of them. In fact, we even suggest Pinterest as one of the best places to get cross stitch alphabets and fonts.

Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)
Free Cross Stitch Fonts On Pinterest (Source: Pinterest)

What makes Pinterest even better is that it records things, things that might not be available anymore. Sadly, patterns do get lost over time. One of the most well-known instances are LittleMojo’s cross stitch patterns which were lost for about 10 years before we were able to get these back. Pinterest was instrumental in doing this.

Bad – Copyright

This, sadly, is where the problems start creeping in though. Those free patterns? Aren’t all that they seem. Copyright in cross stitch is a fairly large issue, and sadly, is the biggest detractor from an otherwise great platform.
The reason we looked into Pinterest was actually a whole series of Facebook followers approaching us to inform us of how many patterns had copyright issues. And so we looked into it.
We took 500 boards, and took the first 100 pins from each (50,000 total images) and traced every single pattern back to its source.

  • 5% We just couldn’t find the source of. These were mostly out print patterns from pre-copyright days.
  • 45% We’re completely copyright free.
  • 5% We’re from recognised designers or sold on Etsy.
  • 45% Had permission issues but weren’t necessarily a copyright issue.

Copyright is an odd beast, and we should state that whilst it looks like 50% is fine and 50% have issues, this isn’t actually as cut and dry as it looks.
The 5% that were from recognized designers are an issue, for sure. However, Pinterest has a solution for this. As a designer, you can report them. I’ve even had issues of this in the past on my transforming robot cross stitch pattern, and to be fair to Pinterest, they took down the pins within seconds. But my patterns had the included copyright information on them, most don’t.
This also doesn’t look into the issue of how you, a user are meant to know if they’re copyrighted or not.
But it’s the 45% that have ‘some’ issues that are the real issue. Copyright only really applies if someone is trying to profit from it. Etsy sells patterns, getting them in hot water, but Pinterest is free. This is where the grey area of copyright exists. In our opinion, you should care about copyright in cross stitch, and you should know to spot the issues. But we also know this is a rose-tinted glasses way of looking at the world.
These patterns have copyright issues, such as using Disney characters, but they aren’t able to be taken down as no one is profiting (Pinterest technically makes money off adverts, but this doesn’t count). But does that mean you should stitch them?

The Verdict

As with all of these posts, finding a verdict isn’t as easy as we’d like. Pinterest is a fantastic resource for inspiration, and it has loads of genuinely free patterns, including many lost to time, meaning it’s a great place to go. However, it does have a dark underbelly.
It is annoying for designers, but with Pinterest’s copyright claim function, the 5% are OK as far as we’re concerned. You should be checking things like Pinterest as a designer (it’s tough, but part of the business). But that 45% of patterns that aren’t easy to take down do have issues. But overall, if you follow the rules of finding a quality cross stitch pattern, Pinterest is good for the cross stitch world.
Happy stitching!
Lord Libidan

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Nathalie

    As a designer whose several models are published and stolen on Pinterest, I totally disagree with your analysis based on 100 images ??? !!!!!!!!!!!!
    Is this a joke ?!
    You put down statistics with 100 images and on top of that you claim that 45% Had copyright issues but weren’t necasary an issue. But it’s criminal to say that !!!

    1. LordLibidan

      Hi Nathalie,

      Looks like I wasn’t too clear. We took 100 images from each of the 500 boards, so in total, we checked 50,000 images. I’ve cleared up the text to make that clearer. Whilst this is a “splash in the pan” when it comes to the millions of posts added daily to Pinterest, this was the largest test pool size we could use in our budget (it took 2437 man-hours to do the analysis).

      The 45% that are “not necessarily an issue” is a complicated point. If you read more under the stats I try to quantify this. A copyright breach is only made when someone profits from a pattern. Whilst these were uploaded without permission (an issue in itself), they aren’t a copyright breach. I explain in the paragraph about this group, that I truly believe that these are the “real issue”, as whilst copyright breaches can be removed from Pinterest easily (and regularly very quickly), these 45% “not a copyright issue, but no permission given” images cannot be so easily removed from Pinterest.
      The post makes regular reference to the ethicality of using patterns on Pinterest, and how we see these 45% as “basically copyright”.
      That said, I changed the wording on this too as it could cause issues with regional translations.