Flattered or Pissed off? Hotlinking

I’m not sure if I should be flattered or pissed off. It’s 10pm, this weeks 24 is over, and I figure I’ll have a quick game of killing people online to wind down for bed. My pings are aweful, so I run iftop on my server. I’m seeing a lot of downloads of images from my site, which normally isn’t a big deal, but there’s a lot of them, and they are big ones, or relatively big 100k+ files in my photos directory. Also the referrers are pretty similar, they are coming from a site called myspace.com and a BBS system or 2. A bit of investigation finds that this is from

  • people who take a 100k, 600×800 pixel image and use it as their avatar at around 50×50 pixels and
  • people who post the image to their friends blogs, but “hotlink”, posting it using my server as the image host, instead of being polite and copying it to their own webspace.
  • Robots from .jp addresses sucking down my entire gallery, including the fullsize image versions.

I know that if you want people to see something of yours on the internet you can’t prevent them from “stealing” it with silly javascript to disable menus and whatnot. However, using off of someone elses server is just rude in my opinon. Why the hell should I have to go off and rename pictures of mine because someone is too lazy to copy it to some free hosting service? If they don’t have one, at least ask permission, and don’t do something stupid like use the full size image scaled to 50×50!

So do I add in some hotlink prevention magic to apache, not post anything larger than say, 50×50, or what? I’ve already registered on a couple of these BBSs for the sole reason of posting a very polite message asking the person to please use their own webspace, but doing that for more than a couple is stupid (though my experience from the past says it does work…. some people just don’t know better until you educate them). What do other people do?

3 Comments on “Flattered or Pissed off? Hotlinking”

  1. Well, the first thing you do is correct your grammar. The second paragraph should start
    “I know that if you want people to see something of yours on the internetS…”
    The second thing you should do is simply hunt down the bastards that are doing it and kill them. They stole your popcorn, dude,

  2. You seem to be seeing Ss where I don’t dude… I’m not your president you know, I only believe in one internet!
    And would you agree that the only way to be sure is to nuke them from orbit?

  3. I had BIG problems with that.
    RewriteRule [^/]+.(jpg|jpeg|gif|png|bmp)$ – [F]
    Solved my problems…. For a while I had it redirect to an image that said “BANDWIDTH STOLEN FROM…”. That sure got a reaction from people!!!;)