Bad Kitty!

24 Nov 2006
November 24, 2006

You might remember last year I discovered that someone was “hotlinking” to one of my images. Hotlinking is where someone links directly to your image file and places it on his or her own site. This violates a couple key netizen rules:

  1. Don’t steal someone else’s bandwidth. Every time the image appears on their site your Web host charges you for the use of bandwidth.
  2. Always ask.

When coming upon a hotlink transgressor there are effective strategies of dealing with him/her. Using some coding to my site’s .htaccess file I can ban them from linking to any images on my server. For example, I have banned all sites on MySpace.com –a major source for hotlinking– from linking to any of my images (why don’t the heads of these major sites educate their flock?). Or, I can replace any link they make to one image with one going to another image. Some bloggers have used this tactic by swapping the hotlinked image with one of a questionable variety (as in “not safe for work”). Embarrassing humor ensues. I prefer a slightly different, but related response.

Top: Zeus hotlinks to one of my images.

Cat blogger Zeus hotlinks to one of my images. Bad kitty!

Earlier this week I was going through my referrer logs to see who was linking to my posts and I found another site linking to one of my images. This time it appears the blogger is a cat named Zeus who pens a blog called The Zeus Excuse.

Rather than ban the image, I created a special Photoshop file just for his site. I show the purloined image in the background but put a message about hotlinking in the foreground. Usually, the blogger sees the new image and replaces it. But, poor Zeus must be off in catnip heaven at the moment and hasn’t noticed the change to his recent post.

Zeus, there is no excuse. Bad kitty!

Update: It took about a week but Zeus finally got the hint. The post has been taken down. (For the record, dear Zeus, I only asked you to stop using my image without permission. You didn’t have to nix the entire post.)

7 replies
  1. Myke says:

    You have to remember too that there are people possibly like Kitty that aren’t very web savvy. It’s visible that she uses Blogger which means she has no means to host images locally. I know that is no excuse to hotlink but in addition to your tactic and comment on her blog you could have also referred her to a free image hosting site such as imgfly.com so that she doesn’t commit the offense again elsewhere. Don’t worry, I already took care of it.
    What you did is quite funny (and tasteful) though.

  2. Jeff says:

    Myke, I agree with you. And, in fact, here is the image I usually substitute (via my .htaccess file) when I find a site hotlinking. I just couldn’t resist creating something special for Zeus.

  3. Donna says:

    Am I right that you took this image off the TV? How did you get the image to begin with?

  4. Jeff says:

    Yes, Donna, that is correct. I recorded the QVC video off the TV and did a screen grab for the original blog post I used it for.
    The important point is that this person (ok, cat) is using my bandwidth on her/his site without asking and with no attribution. It costs me money.

  5. Donna says:

    Ah, yes, I see. I’d say that is one embarrassed kitty. The blogs for dummies should also explain the hotlinking rules.

  6. lia says:

    It’s visible that she uses Blogger which means she has no means to host images locally.
    Untrue! All Blogger users have easy access to Picasa.

  7. Myke says:

    I take back what I said. After further examination of Blogger I can see that you can also upload images from your computer. It would have been just as easy for her to save the photo (with permission) from this site and then upload it from her computer.
    Not to mention Blogger clearly states the use of web images from external sources:
    “If you choose to “Add an Image from the Web” using the image upload feature in Blogger, you shouldn’t use an image location that is hosted at someone else’s expense without their permission. Sometimes this is referred to as “stealing bandwidth” because every time your blog loads, the image is loaded from their server, and this person likely incurs an expense.”

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