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Dealing With Image Hotlinkers

Internet bandwidth can be a scarce commodity in the midst of a product launch, so “hotlinking” or having someone post one of your images, audio or video from their website, blog or forum can reduce your total available Internet bandwidth. Here are a couple of fixes for this issue.

Solution 1: Write to them

You could locate an email address or look up their domain whois information and contact them directly to remove the link to the file on your webhost. If they’re linking to copyrighted content, you might get your legal department to send them the appropriate legal response.

This generally takes some time.

Solution 2: Remove/Delete the file

If you remove the file from your server, the file they’re linking to will show up as a broken link (generally a “404 Error – File Not Found”). This means you’ll need to put up another version of your file and link to that instead.

The disadvantage of these solutions are either:

  • Can take time and the owners might drag their feet about taking action
  • Causes inconvenience because your tech support will need to take time out to fix it

I like Solution 3 – Use the opportunity to generate traffic to your site.

Here’s one of my original posts “WhoIsAndrewWee forum launched


Here’s an image hotlinker:

image hotlinker

How do I know they’re hotlinking?

The address for the image points to my blog.

So to deal with the hotlinker, I can create a file with the same filename and create a link to my blog.

Take a look at:

image hotlink

And once it’s uploaded to my server, the hotlinker will still grab the file and…

image hotlinker2

You can then track your stats and see how many visitors flow over to your site.

It’s a simple and elegant solution. (and can bring decent social traffic too).

6 comments on Dealing With Image Hotlinkers

  1. Hawaii SEO
    August 28, 2007 at 5:12 pm (11 years ago)

    Use this WordPress Plugin.

    It’s ingenious. You can set it up so you display images hosted on your site and get the benefit from image search but serve an image hosted on flickr to the hotlinkers with a link back to your blog.

  2. Con von Hoffman
    August 30, 2007 at 5:11 am (11 years ago)

    I think emailing them first is a good step. I was doing this and didn’t even know what the impact was on other sites. Someone swapped a couple of pictures I was linking to with ones similar to those above and I stopped doing it. While that was effective, I would also have responded to a plain old email about it. Don’t automatically assume that everyone who does this is evil. Some of us are just plain ignorant.

  3. Andrew Wee
    August 30, 2007 at 8:23 am (11 years ago)

    Great resources, it looks interesting on a first glance, and I’ll be checking it out.


  4. Andrew Wee
    August 30, 2007 at 8:24 am (11 years ago)

    Hi Con,
    Thanks for sharing your feedback.

    There’s no assumption that hotlinkers are “evil”, though bandwidth leakage still occurs.

    There’s a trade off between emailing all the people who hotlink (and might require further followup – mostly as you say they might be new) and taking immediate action.

  5. Stephan Miller
    August 30, 2007 at 10:56 pm (11 years ago)

    Users at Stumbleupon did this to me once. I made the mistake of uploading huge pictures to my site. Their photoblogging feature burns a lot of people. I found a way to fix it that only allowed urls on my domain to hit the image folder.

    But yours is a better ides.

    Didn’t someone use this trick to get an X-rated picture on an MSN blog once.

  6. Andrew Wee
    September 3, 2007 at 2:00 pm (11 years ago)

    I’m not sure about the x-rated pictures on the MSN blog…
    bait and switching happens all the time, not just with images, but web addresses too.

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