Enough is Enough – hot-linking is wrong, folks.

I was really surprised to find out how much of my bandwidth was being stolen. Yes – stolen.

When you hot-link to an image on someone else’s site you are, in effect, stealing their bandwidth.

Last month I had 632 MB of bandwidth stolen from just one server.

Wikipedia defines Hot-Linking as:

Inline linking (also known as hotlinking, leeching, piggy-backing, direct linking, offsite image grabs and bandwidth theft) is the use of a linked object, often an image, from one site into a web page belonging to a second site. The second site is said to have an inline link to the site where the object is located.

Now Hot-Linking in and of itself isn’t always bad. If you link to an image on one of my sites and have a conversation on your site about the image, or at least my initial post about the image, and you give me a trackback, then I consider that fair use – I am getting something in return for you using my image. I’m getting potential traffic to my site. That is a lot different then just stealing data (and bandwidth) from my site.

But if you just re-purpose my image for you own needs you are stealing my bandwidth (not to mention the image).

So what to do about it?

.htaccess. This is a “magic file” that is very powerful – and it can be used to a) prevent hot-linking completely, or b) replace the “stolen” image with one of your choice.

I implemented b).

So if someone hotlinks to any image on my site, the actual image that is displayed on their site is:

This is pretty easy to implement, and you can read more about it here.


  1. Just make sure that you are allowing some sites to access it. I submitted my articles to a few sites and sometimes they “grab” an image/screenshot from my blog and it’s the “replacement” image that appears lol

    Michael Aulia’s last blog post..My impression on the new Avast antivirus v4.8

  2. @Stu – would be cool to find out!

  3. Rob,

    Nice work on taking the 2) option. It’d be interesting to see how many places the new “Thief” image shows up :).

  4. @Michael Aulia – yes – I had over 13K DVD Cover-art images for my DVD database. Was amazed how many of those were being linked!

    Thanks for the info!

  5. Wow… 632 Mb is quite a lot, especially if your hosting only gives you limited bandwith per month 😐