Friday Tech Tip: Leaching Images

Posted By on March 30, 2007

GlitchPosting of images on personal pages such as Myspace or Facebook or placement of images to forums is a regular practice for those using the internet. Instead of creating personal images or at minimum ‘serving’ them from ones own file serving space, people often leech images from web servers owned by others. This practice is inappropriate etiquette at minimum and perhaps theft. This is often bandwidth intensive when the images being served are large (or contain audio or video) or are used by sites with heavy traffic and can cause problems for the host server, not to mention high bandwidth bills. Don’t do it.

McCain PrankOn the opposite side of the coin, the pages doing the ‘stealing’ are susceptible themselves to cunning host site owners. This point was hammered home the other day since the abusing site was the MySpace page of presidential hopeful John McCain. A campaign helper for Senator McCain used a common template to create the page which is free to be used so as long as credit is giving to the creator. In this case it was Newsvine‘s Founder and CEO Mike Davidson. Davidson has no problem with people using his template, but expects users to host their own image files — McCain’s helper did not and ended up using images hosted on someone else’s server … and under someone else’s control. In this case, Mr. Davidson decided to play a prank on the campaign and replaced some of the images on the site, with ones that read a little differently. The details of the story can be found on Newsvine and might make for a good lesson for us all; don’t use the links to images from places other than under your control.


  • I had heard that his page had been “hacked” but I didn’t know the details. Now that I know it was because he was using externally hosted images (rather than self hosted), I have to laugh. It’s actually a favorite Apache trick to play on people who “borrow” your images (and bandwidth).

  • Yes … it was almost comical a couple of year ago with a friend of mine. A fellow had the nerve to bash him for posting something on his blog and leached a photo that was being used FROM HIS SITE. When my friend found out that his was not only being verbally assaulted for his opinion, he selected a few choice words in a graphic and replaced the image. Unbeknown to the blogger doing the ‘leeching,’ his site ran for some time with the vulgar language and “admission” statement of what he was doing. Sort of funny in a way.

    I use quite often as a photo server/archive, and am finding that the Free version drops the older photo eventually … a little disconcerting if they end of recycling a numbering scheme? Its one thing to just drop a graphic or photo … yet another to have someone else’s photo show up in my blog. 😉

  • A few options for that…

    First off, myself, I usually use ImageShack for forum postings and such. Images never get deleted, and only get removed from full size hotlinking ability (thumbnails still available for hotlinking) when they get hammered.

    Second, for blog stuff, and when I want photo galleries, I use my My Opera space. Seeing as you’ve got your own server, you could very easily run some PHP gallery app or something. (Although you don’t want it to get hammered… but that’s what Apache restrictions are for, give ’em some horse porn (or some milder form of treatment, such as a “This image was hotlinked without my permission” image) if they hotlink on a domain that you’re not trying to post on.)

  • Eric,
    Great tip and ‘if’ Imageshack never deletes or doesn’t require a subscription (unlike Flickr — need to go PRO) to keep images forever … then its a great option. Thanks for the comment.

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.