So I was just lucky enough to learn a lesson without getting nailed for it. In the process of signing up for National Blog Posting Month, I saw a request not to hot link to the site’s images. Ever hear of hotlinking? I hadn’t.
Here’s the embarrassing confession. Being the savvy Internet user I am, I’ve been attaching images to my posts via URL of the source site. Before you give me crap about it, understand that I actually thought this was okay, assuming linking to an image is the same as linking to a site. Here’s the thing – it’s NOT.
Bandwidth theft or “hotlinking” is direct linking to a web site’s files (images, video, etc.). An example would be using an <img> tag to display a JPEG image you found on someone else’s web page so it will appear on your own site, eBay auction listing, weblog, forum message post, etc.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data transferred from a web site to a user’s computer. When you view a web page, you are using that site’s bandwidth to display the files. Since web hosts charge based on the amount of data transferred, bandwidth is an issue. If a site is over its monthly bandwidth, it’s billed for the extra data or taken offline.
A simple analogy for bandwidth theft: Imagine a random stranger plugging into your electrical outlets, using your electricity without your consent, and you paying for it.
So that’s hotlinking. Needless to say, it’s not okay. What I’m relieved about is that I found this out for myself before someone else did. Bad things can happen, as the folks at altlab.com go on to point out. Things like this.
Being a good lapsed Catholic, I’m doing my public penance, owning up, and taking down the offending images. Pictures of my dog making weird faces will remain.
Now enjoy National Blog Posting Month. Today makes a solid week of posts (only 3 of which are relevant to the NaBloPoMo challenge, but it’s a start).