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Thread: FAQ: Don't Hotlink to Images and Why We Don't Allow Hotlinking

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  1. #1
    Herder of Hamsters AW Admin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    On the Server

    FAQ: Don't Hotlink to Images and Why We Don't Allow Hotlinking

    Absolute Write Image Linking Policy

    Absolute Write's official policy prohibits hotlinking (also known as inline linking) to images on sites that you do not own or where you do not have an account that is intended for image linking.


    Hotlinking or inline linking refers to using the vBulletin image link tool (accessed via this icon: ) to link to an image on a site that is not yours, or that is not stored on your account on an image hosting site like PhotoBucket or Flickr or Picasa or InstaGram, or a site you control.

    Sharp-eyed member Mac H reminds me that some sites, like xkcd.com, explicitly provide permission (as explained here) for hotlinking; they too would be an exception to the rule, though I'd include a link in the post to the hosting site's policy as a courtesy.

    Note that Imgur's TOS prohibit hotlinking in this clause:

    Don't use Imgur to host image libraries you link to from elsewhere, content for your website, advertising, avatars, or anything else that turns us into your content delivery network

    Why is Hotlinking a Problem

    • Because it uses the bandwidth of the site where the image lives, and the owner of the site is therefore paying for AW bandwidth.
    • Because the image may not be in a context that the rights holder and owner find acceptable.
    • Because the site owner or image owner may be annoyed enough to swap out the innocent image of kittens and bunnies you linked to, and replace it with a pornographic or offensive image.
    • Because the image may contain code or malware.
    • Because the image you hotlinked to in all innocence may reside on a server infected with malware.
    • Because it makes MacAllister's eyeballs itch when she gets a nasty email from the poor person whose bandwidth jumped dramatically because someone on AW hotlinked to a cute kitty cat picture.

    And for lots of other reasons.

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