Hotlinking puts your intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights, brand identity and other assets at risk.

Here are some possible outcomes when hotlinking goes undetected:

1.) Product theft. If an individual or an organized band of digital pirates hotlinks to images on your website, for example, it also could mean they've stolen your product and are trying to sell it under terms they dictate. Such was the case with the theft of "20 Ways To Make $100 Per Day Online."

The thief posted an illegal eBay auction, hotlinking to sales graphics and slashing the price of the product from $27 to $9.99. This not only undercut the "20 Ways" creators, it also undercut legitimate Affiliates.

2.) Brand dilution: Companies and individuals invest money and time in creating a brand identity that appeals to customers. Hotlinkers can corrupt a carefully crafted brand identity by placing hotlinked images on undesirable websites, for instance. Imagine the logo of a church appearing on a porn site, and you'll understand quickly the sort of damage hotlinkers can do.

Now imagine your company's logo and sales graphics appearing on a site that could damage your reputation. Hotlinkers even may try to adopt your company's identity to put "customers" at ease while they hide the true purpose of the corrupt website.

3.) Mysterious Support requests. Customers may approach you with a service-related question. If you can't find their details in your records, it might be because they didn't purchase the product from you. Hotlinkers and pirates might simply have posed as you, selling your product as their own and leaving you to handle Support issues and complaints. Not only are you out the money from the product theft, you now bear the burden of serving accounts for a thief.

4.) Trademark, copyright and ownership confusion. Hotlinkers may claim your property as their own, thus subjecting you to bear the burden of costly litigation.

5.) Lost profits. Hotlinkers posing as you or using your brand identity to direct business to themselves erode profits. They could be selling your products at a discount, undermining your marketing effrts in the process. Or they could be using your intellectual property to make it appear as though you're an "official sponsor" of their website or endorse the corrupt products they sell.


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