(also inline linking, leeching, direct linking)
A hotlink directly links an object, such as an image or video, hosted on one website to another without the original site’s permission. The object appears on the second website as if it were hosted there but is still served from the original website’s server. This can lead to increased bandwidth usage and server load for the website hosting the object because their resources are used every time the object is accessed on the hotlinking site.
- A blogger embeds an image from a photographer’s website into their blog post without uploading the image to their own server, causing the photographer’s server to load the image every time someone visits the blog post.
- A forum user links to a video hosted on a third-party site within a post, causing the video to load from the third-party site’s server each time someone views the post.
- Use an .htaccess file to block hotlinking by specifying which domains are allowed to access your content.
- Employ content delivery networks (CDNs) to reduce the impact of hotlinking on server resources.
- Add watermarks to images and videos to ensure proper attribution, even when hotlinked.
Pros and cons of hotlinking
- Hotlinking can increase exposure for content creators because their work is displayed on other websites.
- It can lead to increased bandwidth usage, server strain, and potential copyright infringement issues.
Tips for hotlinking ethically
- Always seek permission from the original content creator before hotlinking.
- Provide proper attribution and a link back to the original content source.
- Consider using an embedded sharing tool provided by the content creator, if available.