Image Theft: A Hotlinking Danger

Hotlinking is not rocket science. Scammers and pirates quickly become masters. Some hotlinkers create their own piracy network, delivering free content to themselves for whatever purpose they have in mind.

Assume the image below is your website and your business logo. Let's say you're working on a new page that will introduce your customers to an exciting new product. Because it's late in the day and you're tired, you plan to finish the job tomorrow. The incomplete page is on your server when you leave the office for the day:


While you're away from the office, a hotlinker who has been "casing" you because of your work ethic and reputation for quality, copies the page you've been working on. His plan is to leech traffic — not to help you build your company and brand, but to use your hard work and reputation to his advantage.

With only a minute of work, the hotlinker steals your page, makes adjustments to suit his needs, and posts this on his website.


The example above is only one of the dangers of hotlinking. The Internet provides a steady stream of "free" content for hotlinkers. They rob legitimate merchants of profits, endanger intellectual property and create public-relations nightmares.

A company or individual's investment in graphics, website designs, products and services can go to waste if hotlinking is left unchecked.

Remember: The example above is only a basic one. Hotlinking schemes can be elaborate. Some hotlinkers "mine" sites for content to create the appearance of legitimacy. When visitors arrive at the hotlinker's page all appears to be well.

But in the next moment they can find themselves battling a malware attack or caught in a trap of the hotlinker's making. Meantime, your images and other content is on the hotlinker's page, leading visitors to believe you're part of the scam.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License