March 10, 2008

Perils of hot-linking

WTF? Thats not what I hot-linked!
One aspect of publishing on the internets that is unique to the medium is hot-linking, aka in-line linking. This happens when one web site incorporates content (usually graphics) from another site without actually hosting the content. I can put one of your pictures on my blog at your expense by hot-linking it. That way, whenever someone views my web page, they are using your bandwidth to view the content. Some folks consider this a form of theft. Whatever you call it, it isn't nice.

The following paragraphs are tedious and rambling. Click here to skip to the good part.

The old feeder has an unconventional view of patent, copyright and trademark laws: they stink on ice. I'd elaborate on why I think these created-by-law rights don't enjoy the same status as the fundamental and inalienable rights enshrined, (not created or granted) by our constitution, but you wouldn't care. The 'rights' these ill-conceived laws protect are personal and shouldn't involve the state. 'Nuff said.

Back to hot-linking. The Plains Feeder publishes lots of pictures, many of which are original digital works, the old feeder uses his own meager personal funds to buy server space and bandwidth to serve up all the pictures you see here. I don't much care for other cats to use my bandwidth and server space without permission or payment.

There are numerous goofy methods to prevent hot-linking, but none of them are 100% effective. Sending out threatening 'lawyer letters- to the offenders is stupid; I've written rafts of such cease and desist threats for clients over the years, and most folks throw them in the trash. Calling the bandwidth police won't help, either; there aren't any.
What do I do when I catch someone hot-linking an image that lives on my server? I re-name the image used on my site and adjust the HTML code to show the new name. If I would delete the old image from my server, the wicked hot-linker would find the picture desaparecido from the offending web page. But thats no fun at all, so I replace the original image with something else. Something the offender would never have dreamed of incorporating (read: stealing). Something funny or shocking shows up in place if the swiped photo.

An example: The picture above this post, showing a buggy Warren Buffet, has been published by for almost a year now. The original image that these bums hot-linked came from this nice Plains Feeder post about Warren Buffet's convoluted love life. The weasels at WiredGC used the image from this post as if it were one of their own personal 'file photos', hot-linking it without permission or attribution. The miscreants haven't caught my switcheroo in all this time; their readers are treated to my buggy Marxist version. WiredGC's readers must think the editors there are nuts.

Vigilante justice doesn't always have to be unpleasant. Cop a laugh.

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