Journal Entry

Hotlinking Summer 2004

Ah, the world of Internet crime. I have been hotlinked left and right, here lately, so now I'm going to rant about it.

What is Hotlinking?

A hotlink is a direct link to a file on someone else's web site. Usually this occurs with image files but people also link directly to mp3s, mids, zips, pdfs and others.

Why is Hotlinking Wrong?

Hotlinking is a crime. It's against the law and the person who does it is a thief and a criminal. Not only is it breaking the copyright law: Redistribution of artwork without the artist's permission... It's also bandwidth theft.

Bandwidth is the data transfer that happens every time you view a web site online. The more people who view the site or download stuff from the site, the more bandwidth gets used. Personal web sites always have a set amount of bandwidth they can use. If the site uses more than the allotted bandwidth, one of two things will happen: the site will be shut down (temporarily), or the site owner will have to pay for the extra bandwidth.

Hotlinking can quickly put a big dent in allowed bandwidth. Quite often, images are hotlinked from forums and discussion boards... if it's a large image, and the forum is popular, the site being hotlinked could be shut down or charged for the extra bandwidth in just a few hours.

More importantly, hotlinking is a copyright crime. A hotlinker is displaying someone else's art on a site not affiliated with the artist.

What Can Happen?

If someone hotlinks to me, I could sue under the copyright laws. Of course, this is highly unlikely.

However, hotlinks are ridiculously easy to track. When I discover a hotlinker at a forum, I will email the forum owner. The forum thread will be deleted and the hotlinker may be banned from the web accounts he/she is using.

I could remove the image that is being hotlinked. The hotlinker now has a broken link and nothing of mine to look at.

Or I could perform a "switcheroo". In other words, I could simply change the image. Since hotlinkers are linking to files on someone else's web site, they have absolutely no control over the content...

I could replace the image with a few choice words. Something along the lines of "This image has been HOTLINKED. Hotlinking is illegal and the person who posted this image is a criminal! Please view the original at"

Or I could get really quite obnoxious. Images could be replaced with porn (which leads to a higher probability that the hotlinker will be banned, since many forums do not allow porn). Images could be replaced with an image to make fun of the hotlinker, in a delightfully cruel way. Some inspiring web sites:
Image Lifting Imposter Prank
Switcheroo: Reasons Not to Direct Link Images

Instead of Hotlinking...

Please link to the original web page that contains the image or file you want to refer to.

For More Information

Peoii's Place: Hotlinking

So You've Decided To Hotlink And Steal Bandwidth

Stop and Prevent Hotlink Bandwidth Theft, Hotlinking and File Leeching

R.I.G.H.T.S. Redistribution In Graphics Has To Stop

U.S. Copyright Office

What Is Copyright Protection?

Update October 2004

Okay folks, hotlinking is no longer possible from Static8.

For More Information

Htaccess Disable Hotlinking Code Generator
This is where I got the code for my .htaccess file. You fill in the blanks, it gives you customized code. You create the file and upload it, and then you can check to see if it works. Nice and easy!

Guide to .htaccess
Learn a little bit more about the .htaccess file and what you can do with it. Includes preventing hotlinking code.

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