Image hotlinking, if you’re not aware, is bad. Here’s a good breakdown of why, but the gist is, it’s a bad, bad thing that sites sometimes do not knowing that it’s bad, and it can end up costing whomever they’re linking to a bunch of money. If I wanted to share an adorable cat picture with you all— as I am wont to do— and I didn’t just upload the image here, but instead displayed it using an html link, then every one of you who clicked that link would use the host’s bandwidth, which costs money.
Now imagine a site with the reach of, say, the Huffington Post doing that, and you’re talking a whole lot of bandwidth. That’s what Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal learned when HuffPo wrote up coverage of his cartoon, “Having a Baby vs. Having a Cat,” in which the site hotinked to Inman’s images without permission. Instead of just taking the cartoon down, he replaced pictures like these:
Yes, in place of every image HuffPo linked to, Inman displayed his bill. That means this bill showed up eight times.
Oh, oops— I mean seven times. Just for good measure, the HuffPo piece ended with this gem:
HuffPo: Your source for serious journalism, unapproved hotlinks, and occasional butts.