Hotlink Prevention

Following on from recent posts regarding the theft/borrowing/discreet use of photos from other blogs. Mr Calypso rightly pointed out that it’s not the theft of the image that bothers him, but the theft of the bandwidth when other people simple hotlink images from his site. Theft of images can cause a financial loss, but it’s from not receiving a payment you might otherwise have gotten. Bandwidth on the other hand, can cost real cash that you’ve had to earn.

I’ve never had to worry too much about bandwidth. I’ve usually hosted my sites at places like WordPress.com or Flickr. They handle the bandwidth and there’s no meter running for me. Which is just as well. But this blog….well, this is self hosted. I pay. And I don’t much want to pay for other websites traffic, thank ye very much. So I had a little look to see what could be done about it.

My criteria was simple. The solution had to be free, not interfere with my own site and it had to be reliable. It turns out that this is not necessarily a straightforward task. I have found a potential solution. It is free, it does work as I want it to. But is it reliable? The plugin I have chosen, for now is called Watermark Hotlink Protection and is easily found in the WP plugins library.

What does it do? It applies a watermark to my hotlinked images. Simple. I chose the text and set the whole thing up in about two minutes. Problem solved? Hmmm. I tested the plugin for about thirty minutes. Sometimes the watermark appeared on images on my own website. That is a most undesired result. I hit F5 and refreshed the page, and it disappeared. A cache or related problem? Let’s hope so. I’d really like this to work.

If any bloggers fancy helping out to test the plugin more fully, do feel free to hotlink to the image below and send a link to the page for me to see how well it worked. Or didn’t work, as the case may be. At the very least, perhaps you’d be kind enough to comment and tell me whether there was a watermark on the image below when you opened this post in your browser.

Update: The Watermark Hotlink Protection plugin did not work very satisfactorily. In fact it was shoddy. I went in search of a better method, and had far more success with Watermark2Hotlink.

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