Hotlinking is when a website embeds an image from your site into theirs. Everytime somebody loads their page, the image is actually being loaded from your host making it bandwidth theft. The only positive thing about having your images hotlinked by other sites is that once you find out about it, you can change the name of the image and put up whatever you desire to be shown on their site.

For example, when a christian site decides to steal bandwidth from me by hotlinking, I can do something like this:

Any questions?


  1. I just realized the photo in the top right (of the contributors, I presume) is not likely hosted by them as well…I have FF set to prevent off-site scripts and junk and didn’t see that pic when I went there.

    Needless to say the one here didn’t load either until I clicked it.

    Way classier than just tubgirl-ing them, too.

  2. I think they used blogger to host that pic gorckat. Looks like the ones they are using in their posts are mostly hotlinked which is silly since blogger hosts photos for free.

    Actually, to some xtians, Darwin is probably more offensive than goatse or tubgirl šŸ˜‰

  3. OK, unwashed masses want to know: what was the original image? šŸ™‚ No, really, what a christian could have linked to on THIS site?

  4. I guess he was reviewing Jesus Camp. I skimmed the review and it seems that he found the movie disturbing, but only as a movie not in practice.

  5. To be fair, it’s effective bandwidth theft but probably not deliberate sabotage – more likely ignorance of how bandwidth works. I used to do the same thing till someone put me wise: I just thought it was a simpler way to get an image than copying it, saving it, uploading it etc.

  6. Sometimes though, hotlinking is a good thing…two of my sites get a lot of free advertising through it ( and When people hotlink them in forums or on pages, my htaccess throws in a little watermark at the bottom of the image.

    You can also set up your htaccess to either completely block hotlinking or selectively block it based on url.

    Also, as a side note Chris, I didn’t notice when you moved over to wordpress, and only recently wondered why cynical-c wasn’t in my bloglines anymore…you may want to think about using feedburner so your rss feed is always the same (and you get nifty rss stats to boot!)

  7. Friends.

    I am the thief in question. Generally, Christians make terrible thieves, but given that my thievery was not even intended makes this event all the more anticlimactic. Seriously- I have been blogging for a year now, and I am an attorney, and your tirades are catching me very much by surprise. Unless you are referring to an Intellectual Property law on point that I did not hear about in my intellectual property courses, I am very much in the dark as to what the problem might be with “hot” linking to an image available over the public domain. The Jesus Camp image is available all over Google Images. I simply selected the first one I saw. Let me know what I should be doing to correct my sinnin’ ways in the blogosphere. Thanks and best-

  8. MM,

    When you take an image from somewhere, it is proper to download the image and host it on your site. You were simply embedding the image link from mine which means everytime somebody loads your page with the image from my host, I get charged for the bandwidth.

    The problem isn’t the taking the image from a particular site, it’s that you aren’t hosting the image on your dime. I hope this clears that up.

    Generally, Christians make terrible thieves
    You are much too modest.

  9. I do not find any reason to contribute and spread your ideas throughout internet. Your banwidth es excessively expensive, because you have nothing to give, and so I certainly will not hotlink to you.


  10. Hi, how do I know if I am being hotlinked?

    I receive lots of visits from Google image search, particularly for two images I have stored at, one of them made by ME.

    Are they real visits? how do I know if someone is stealing my work?

  11. Fernando, Look through your weblogs. If an IP address is requesting an image, but NOT requesting the webpage where the image is placed, then that person is hotlinking to your image.
    Use .htaccess to not serve images unless the referrer is one of your web pages or your domain.

    I just squished loads of MySpace hotlinkers the other day. It felt good to look at their sites with my artwork missing.

    .htaccess rules!

  12. …I keep getting so much traffic at my blog from this post that I had to visit again šŸ™‚ Chris, you clearly have enough compatriots in your complaint to file some sort of class action against Google for providing an open grab bag for hot linkers. That could just be so exciting…

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