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Stealing Bandwidth

May 27th, 2004

Here’s where the value lies in checking your stats.

There’s something called “netiquette,” a kind of Emily Post for the Internet. Certain rules you shouldn’t break. One of them is plagiarism, a universal breach of etiquette. If you take someone else’s words and reprint them, you give credit–and with blogs, you link to the source, so that the person who originally wrote something not only gets the credit deserved, but also possibly more traffic from the link.

Just as bad is something called “hotlinking.” If you use an image from somewhere else, the least you can do is save the image on your own site. But some people don’t do that; instead, they link directly to the image on the other site. So that when someone visits the hotlinker’s page, they see the photos as if they were native to the site. But each time a visitor views the hotlinker’s page, the images are loaded from the original site. This results in the content being displayed on the hotlinker’s site but the original site does the heavy lifting–the original site has to do the sending of the photos, which takes up bandwidth, which is a resource that people pay for.

Let me put it this way. Let’s say you write software, you create a program. Another person comes along, steals the program and publishes it under their own name. And then they add your home phone number as the tech support line, and tell people to call collect. That’s kind of like what this is.

When I checked my stats this morning, I noticed that some guy had done that to one of my blog posts. He had taken my blog entry verbatim, and had hotlinked to the two photos in it. No credit, no link, nothing. As if he’d written it and he was hosting the photos.

So I played a little trick on him. The danger in hotlinking is that the original images are not under your control, but are controlled by the person who owns the originating site. If that person changes the photos, then your site changes without you knowing it. So I replaced the photos on my own site with blank cards announcing what this guy did. For my own site, I re-uploaded the original images under new names and edited the posts accordingly so the images display correctly on my site. But the hontlinker gets busted–on his own page.

Yeah, I’m a vindictive stinker. But it is a little piece of justice, and I do so enjoy it. When the guy eventually finds out what happened and changes his post, I’m turning the hotlink protection feature of my site on. Until then, this guy’s page will look like this:

Update: this guy’s not paying attention to his site. I even sent him a blog comment, and still he hasn’t edited the post. I have had emails of interest about it, so what the heck–here’s his site’s URL and the URL for the specific post. Let’s see if we can’t give him some business.

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  1. May 27th, 2004 at 16:15 | #1

    Well done, Luis! He’ll think twice before stealing any of your stuff. Unfortunately, he might just move onto other “prey”. People like that should have their accounts cancelled.

  2. May 29th, 2004 at 09:09 | #2

    Good for you. We need more posts on netiquette…

  3. May 29th, 2004 at 09:14 | #3

    PS I just blog rolled you…

    Thanks for the “Advice.”

  4. Anonymous
    April 24th, 2005 at 16:00 | #4

    For a while my website was pretty well visited. I had a lot of pictures, and alot of video clips online for people to enjoy. Bandwith theft was pretty common, and occasionaly happens still, so I found this little picture on the web.


    Allthough kind of rash, I found it to be very effective in preventing future “unauthorized linking”. I got a couple of furious e-mails from a couple of ignorant people on this account I must admit, which still cracks me up 😀


    Btw. Feel free to copy the image above for personal use, but please dont link to it directly … o_O

  5. Luis
    April 30th, 2005 at 03:59 | #5

    Can you believe that this Matthew Scott idiot still has the stolen-bandwidth images up? Apparently, he just abandoned the site not too long after he ripped off my entry. Both a thief and lazy. What a winner he is, huh?

    As for the image you suggest, it’s funny, but a bit too much over the top for me. Stolen bandwidth now happens seldom enough for me that I can personalize each image to suit the situation.

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