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Defeating hotlinking

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Sunday October 29, 2006 )

Have you ever noticed in your stats or server logs an image from your site being requested thousands of times, when the page it’s displayed on is only requested a few dozen times? You may have fallen victim to hotlinking.

Hotlinking has become a growing issue for site owners, much of it due to the increased popularity of social networks.

Basically, hotlinking is where an image or object from your site is displayed on another site – and often without your permission. The problem with this is that you’re the one footing the bill for the bandwidth and your server is carrying the load; not to mention that it’s also an infringement of your copyright.

The other issue is the quality of the sites where your images may show up. Particularly vindictive individuals may find it somewhat of a hoot to have an image of you on their seedy site. More often though, hotlinking is perpretrated by people who may be ignorant of the problem they are creating; i.e. social network users.

Like content theft, you can drive yourself nuts tracking down hotlinkers, sending cease and desist letters and then monitoring outcomes – you have better things to do with your time. Bearing in mind that prevention is better than cure, thankfully there’s some relatively simple solutions to protect your site from the hotlinking epidemic.

Learn more in my new article/tutorial on hotlink protection


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