Pinched Pelican Problem
January 5, 2009 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Is it acceptable for a website to reproduce around 20 images on their front page, approximately 150k each, from our website while keeping them hosted on our server? I've never really understood the etiquette or protocol in this situation, but our bandwidth suddenly doubled and it obviously wasn't hard to find out who the culprit was. There seems little point in linking to the sites in question, but what have others done in this situation? Thanks in advance.
posted by jonathanbell to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hot-linking is a no-no unless you explicitly permit it. Among the things you can do are:

1) Write a polite email
2) Change the names of your images
3) Do #2 and then replace the old filenames with images that are more... creative.
posted by rocketpup at 12:01 PM on January 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

Yes, hotlinking, or inline linking, is not kind. It is possible, however, that the offender just doesn't understand the way things work, and a simple email -- as noted above -- is all it will take.
posted by nitsuj at 12:03 PM on January 5, 2009

If you can't absorb the increased load, this is usually handled by using your web server to block/redirect any requests that don't come from your own site. Your images will work from your site, the images they are linking will have their site as the referrer and will be blocked.

This is generally the nuclear bomb option since all their images will break.
posted by smackfu at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2009

I would simply change the file names. Or, if I was feeling vengeful, turn the tables on them, and link to some of their pictures, and drain their bandwidth.
posted by Solomon at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2009

Not acceptable, they are making you pay for bandwidth that only benefits them.

Any of the suggestions given above will work.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2009

Here's what one MeFite did to ameliorate a similar situation. [mildly NSFW - page contains the word "ass" in a largish font]
posted by Liver at 12:10 PM on January 5, 2009

well, is the hotlinking site a servie like FFFFOUND or cpluv that links to your images to highlight you or are they using them for their own purposes? if it's the latter, I'd be an ass and change the images to something fun like goatse or an image from

hotlinking is a bad nono. they are taking advantage of you if they're i.e. a furniture store. think about what they really don't want to see on their homepage and make your image just that. they gave you the billboard, it's up to you to use it.
posted by krautland at 12:10 PM on January 5, 2009

No, it's generally viewed that what they're doing is not acceptable. They may not know that, but that's neither here nor there. They're costing you money, and not giving you anything in return. They didn't even have the decency to host the damn images themselves.

If I were you, I'd replace the current images with penises. I wouldn't bother to email them.
posted by Netzapper at 12:13 PM on January 5, 2009

Here is a good article on how to change your htaccess file on your server so that whenever someone tries to use an image off your server on another site, it will replace with another image. (i.e. when someone tries to use your images on a different server, they get a different default picture saying something else)
posted by Deflagro at 12:14 PM on January 5, 2009 [2 favorites]

Rewriting your images to goatse or tubgirl can prove satisfying, if juvenile. Some examples.
posted by rodgerd at 12:19 PM on January 5, 2009

If I were you, I'd replace the current images with penises.

Would replacing it with goatse be too obvious, too passe?
posted by jayder at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2009

To answer the question of whether this is OK: no, it is not.

Regarding what to do, the most "adult" option would be to use mod_rewrite or similar to redirect any off-site links to a generic "Please Do Not Steal My Bandwidth" image. The most satisfying option is probably the same, but with goatse or tubgirl.
posted by tocts at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2009

Try a polite email first, if contact info is available. If they ignore you, or say NO, then you're completely justified in burning their retinas with
posted by chrisamiller at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2009

The person doing this probably just does not understand how these here intarwebs thingies work. Send a nice email asking them to stop. If they do not comply or ignore you, goatse the images.

If it's a HUGE bandwidth suck for you, then redirect the requests so your server's bandwidth is not used up.
posted by camworld at 12:26 PM on January 5, 2009

Assuming that you're running Apache, then here's an online wizard that will make an .htaccess file for you to prevent image leeching (which is what I've always heard it called)
posted by holloway at 2:49 PM on January 5, 2009

Level 1 - Contact them. Maybe they're complete morons and new to the intertubes.

Level 2 - Blacklist requests from their server. People above have given you links to do that.

Level 3 - I'd suggest against the goatse/penis route unless it's the kind of site that people who are already familiar with goatse would visit. Nothing says you can't put ridiculous pictures up that will embarrass the hell out of the guy though.
posted by JFitzpatrick at 5:02 PM on January 5, 2009

Best answer: You could also put a visible watermark on the versions of the images that they are 'borrowing', so that everyone knows, "hey, site A is stealing this image from site B; maybe I should just go directly to site B". I did that for my highly borrowed "punk" image. I still get a good 15% of my traffic as background images to people's myspace pages, but now I get the occasional effective click thru.
posted by nomisxid at 6:28 PM on January 5, 2009

It's definitely not cool to hotlink, but I'd suggest being a bit more mature and not swapping your images for something that some might find objectionable. You don't indicate what sort of site it is that is using your images, but if it's one that is generally assumed to be SFW and children accessible, it really wouldn't be acceptable for you to post something repulsive like the many suggestions above. I mean, seriously you don't need to scar innocent people for life just to get your point across. If I were in your place, I would probably take down the images or change their URL.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:18 PM on January 5, 2009

I always put up an image that says "This ass is stealing bandwidth" when they hotlink to my images.
posted by SuzySmith at 10:39 PM on January 5, 2009

Change the image URLs/links on your own page to something else.

Change all the URLs they are hotlinking to Goatse.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:51 PM on January 5, 2009

Here's what one MeFite did to ameliorate a similar situation.

I find that a lot of people would prefer I not be identified as a "MeFite". I give you guys a bad name.
posted by jscott at 11:51 PM on January 5, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. The site has proved impossible to get hold of, unfortunately, and the nuclear option seems a bit, well, nuclear (and also a massive hassle to me), so I shall just wait until the post falls off their front page. Many thanks again.
posted by jonathanbell at 2:13 PM on January 8, 2009

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