How to ridicule a bandwidth thief

How a left wing blogger suddenly encourages people to vote right wing.

You have a shop and the store on the other side of the road puts up this beautiful poster in their window. You can’t afford such a nice poster but you get this great idea. You put a mirror in your own shop reflecting that particular beautiful poster from the other side.

This is a great idea until the shop on the other side change the poster to something that you really, really don’t want in your window.

Recently I went trough the raw traffic logs of The logs from my hosting company that show all kinds of activity on my server.

This log will show me if anyone is stealing images and bandwidth from me.

Let me explain
If someone find a nice picture on your web site that they want to use on their own page they can do it in two different ways.

Stealing bandwidth
1. Include the picture in their page linking directly to the source picture on the original website. This gives the benefit of the fact that all bandwidth and storage space needed to show that stolen picture is eaten from the original owner of the picture. Meaning that the owner pay for the bandwidth used to show the picture on another site.

Every time someone ask for a page at the site that have stolen the picture it is loaded from the original servers.


2. Copy the picture to their own server and link to it there. Then they have to pay for the bandwidth and storage space themselves.

I have marked this blog with a creative commons license allowing non commercial use of everything here as long as you give me credit and stamp your new work with the same creative commons license.

I have also allowed some types of commercial use if it would drive traffic to my site in form of a link or an article.

But some people don’t care about that and use pictures from my site without asking and without linking back giving credit. Because they don’t know better or because they deliberately want to steal bandwidth. But that’s the nature of the internet. It’s how it work. Publishing something on the net gives other people quite a bit of control of your content.

But, when people steal images using method number one described above you have a way of getting your revenge. Yes, it sounds smart to let the place where you steal your images also pay for the bandwidth, but it is a seriously risky business.

You practically gives the original site total control of a window in your site. If I change the picture on my server it will also change on all the sites that have stolen it linking directly to me.

The picture of the TV
Currently, if you do an image search for “tv” in Google Images, a picture that I have made is number three of more than four million. Several people have stolen this and a lot of them link directly back to me. Giving me full control of that picture on their web page.

I have insane amounts of bandwidth available with Dreamhost so currently this problem is not very big. So for this picture I simply added “” to the picture to get a little attention on the sites that have used that picture.

Adding to the picture

Here are two examples. A page using my picture before and after. And another one before and after.

The political joke
But one case was just begging for a practical joke. I discover that a Norwegian blogger with a political very strong left wing message has used a picture of a glass of white wine from my blog. I am not voting extreme left, nor do I vote extreme right, but this case was screaming for some good old and very geeky fun.

So, right now there is a huge picture begging for people to vote right wing on this guys web site. On my server I exchanged the picture of the glass of white wine with a picture saying “Vote for FRP” with the logo of FRP (Fremskrittspartiet), the right wing party in Norway.


The message here is a graphic that practically scream “Vote right wing!” in the middle of this left wing blogger’s web site. ROFL!

This is the link to his page. My joke has been there for a day or something. I guess he’ll change it soon, so here’s the screenshot.

The bottom line
If you enter this world of citizen journalism and utilize the fact that even your mother can have a web page on Blogger, please do your homework anyway.

Just like in the real world. If you go to Bangkok without doing any research at all you’ll probably get ripped off by a tuktuk driver pretty fast.

If you publish on the net without having any idea of what you are doing or who you are stealing from, then you’ll probably be victim of some arrogant geek fooling around with your site.

The side effect
This left wing blogger is not the only one using my picture of a glass of wine. So now a couple of other sites look pretty stupid as well. New York blogger Amanda is suddenly doing commercials for the Norwegian right wing party as well.

Personally I really don’t like this party, so as soon as this left wing Elvis Bling Laden guy fix his page and destroy my practical joke I will change this picture to something else.

Do you have any suggestions? Leave out the obvious offensive pictures that I could have put in there. I want to be more subtle than that.

Digg this story here.

How to ridicule a bandwidth thief

27 thoughts on “How to ridicule a bandwidth thief

  1. Nice. I played a similar prank on someone who was hotlinking one of my images on a very right-wing, pro-Republican website in the United States during the 2004 election. I replaced the image with a “Vote Kerry/Edwards 2004” graphic from the Democratic Party website. It stayed up for like a week.

  2. Nice. The comments have started coming on his site. I used a script to block hotlinking for a while, but that messed up the view for people subscribing to the feeds: They also lost the pictures (or actually got a little message I made for this purpose).

    So how to block hotlinking, but let RSS subsribers still get decent looking posts WITH pictures in place?

  3. He He

    Good one.
    Hot linking is a real pain in the ass for people using time and effort in making their own illustrations. Like me.

    You gave me a very good idea… 😀


  4. Well, it seems that Elvis has caught on to your little joke… by hotlinking a picture from this post showing him hotlinking! Couldn’t find a decent translator to see what he was saying in his post…

    And after all that, he still hasn’t removed the picture of the FRP logo from his original post… what a tool!

  5. Yes, his answer is here (norwegian):

    The translation is mostly a repitition of my post in Norwegian:

    How to ridicule a bandwidth thief
    ( Åssen drite ut en båndbreddetjuv!)

    How a left wing blogger suddenly encourages people to vote right wing
    (Åssen en venstreorientert blogger plutselig og overaskende oppfordrer folk til å stemme Fremskrittspartiet.)

    To read the whole story you have to go here.
    (For å lese hele historien, så blir du nesten nødt til å gå hit)

    …where “here” is a link to my post.

    Basically he’s just referring to my story and kind of admitting that he’s a bandwidth thief and that he was fooled.

    Some of the comments on the article where I make fun are about the fact that he suddenly started promoting the right wing party…

  6. And James is the current winner of the award for the most informative and interesting feedback of the current 1246 comments here at

  7. Sorry, eirikso. Seems like the flamers (at least one of them) has found your site. I guess most of the people commenting here isn’t likely to take the bait, but anyway; your response is a good flamekiller. I heard they could need a hand over at Care for a new job?

  8. 🙂

    Fortunately this problem is still close to non existing here at this site. Seems like my readers are an intelligent and polite crowd.

    As for Dagbladet and other main stream media that tries to communicate with their readers I think they will have to take part in the discussions if they want to increase the quality of the feedback.

    The way it works now is:
    1. Journalist writes story
    2. Journalist moves on and forgets about it
    3. Readers start to flame and post worthless comments that the journalist don’t bother to read
    4. People that want to post questions or interesting comments see that the original author don’t care and because of that they don’t want to waste their time commenting or contributing…

    I try to always answer and take part in the discussion when people comment here on my site. It seems like the fact that the author actually listen to the readers is a way of keeping stupid comments like the one from James to a minimum.

    And of course I am helped by the fact that I have a very small but dedicated group of readers while most main stream media have a huge audience that inevitable includes a bunch of flamers.

  9. Lasse Elden says:

    Yepp! So did I! I also sent a message to the atricle, that’s probably why!??!!!

    Thanx for the drawing lesson! You are saying that you still is 14 years old??? Thats fantastic!!! Puberty for so long taaaiiime!

    Considering buying a projector for my livingroom any coment on this vs. lcd-tv? It’s supposed to use for “happening” like the world cup, movies etc.

    Sorry if I mess up the system with other stuff than what the article is about, but thats life!!!

    Have a nice day!

    PS! James! Stop bitching!

  10. Aaron says:

    I don’t understand the term “bandwidth thief” considering the amount of bits we are talking about. A better analogy might be that you got pick-pocketed and the thief made off with a business card from the bar you visited last night, an empty pack of gum, and a few pennies in spare change.

    There also seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding about how the internet “works” (and I don’t mean technically, I mean the collaborative networked experiment which has been happening for the last dozen or so years).

    If you are truely paranoid a simple approach would use a script that changes all your files around nightly on your website, updating the links, replacing the old images with something offensive such as a photo of a cow or a piece of cheese.

    Still.. whats the “point” ?

  11. I agree on the fact that this case alone is not much of a theft. And as you say, this is the way the internet works. Hotlinking is an important part of the success of sites like Flickr and YouTube.

    But hotlinking can be a problem. It can bring sites down. It can add up and eventually be an extra cost for the site owner.

    You can read more about that here, here and here.

    Still.. whats the “point” ?

    The main point of this article was to show that you run a risk when you give a third party complete control of a window in your own page.

  12. yes now people make own web site to save time they take link from other site and paste in own site to save time but if they work hard they make their own web site better

  13. bob says:

    To Aaron
    You say you don’t see the point, and draw a conclusion about a “fundamental lack of understanding”
    Let me give an example where I run a small website with no intention or need for big bandwidth. I post a fairly large size photo and forget about it. Its viewed a few times a month at most. Then some poster on a messageboard with a huge amount of traffic hotlinks my image. Suddenly the image is viewed a few thousand times a day. 2 months go by and that initial theft of an “…empty pack of gum, and a few pennies in spare change” is suddenly my life saving in the form of bandwidth.
    True story.

  14. eirikso says:

    This post is all about the fact tha this can be a problem. If you don’t have a host that give you close to unlimited bandwidth this kind of theft can be a problem. And you should take measures to avoid bandwidth theft by using .htaccess or other methods of avoiding it.

    I don’t care before this adds up to a serious problem. But I have started including a watermark on my images to state the origin of the pictures on

    Time will show the point where I post this detailed tutorial on how to avoid bandwidth theft…

  15. In the most basic statistics software that was used on Dreamhost where I hosted this site before I could look into a list that showed exactly where all traffic came from and what files they asked for.

    Most of the traffic going directly to an image was hotlinking. And I could click the link to see exactly where it came from.

    Now I have changed host and activated something they call hotlink protection.

    And as far as I can see I can’t find any hotlinking in my logs, but the new host use another stats software, so I am not sure. Maybe I simply don’t find it in this software.

Leave a Reply to James Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s