Too Malicious? A Prank on Bandwidth Thieves

I have a lot of photos and other graphics on my Website,, that occasionally are stolen by others. Copying my images illegally is bad enough, but what really irks me is when people steal my bandwidth as well to display an image from my server on their site. When they do this, they use HTML code with the URL for my image on the server I pay for. It’s “double theft” that steals copyrighted work and limited bandwidth at the same time.

I typically spot the thieves by looking at statistical information for my site, which includes information about external sites referencing my pages and graphics.

I’ve given up on sending e-mail to the guilty parties or their account administrators to complain. For a while I just disabled the image by changing its name and modifying my Web pages. But this week I hit upon a much more entertaining solution. Since the offending Web pages are stealing an image from my server, guess who’s in control of the content being displayed? And guess who can change the content of the image to anything I want?

It may be some time before the offending parties realize that the images they stole now have unfamiliar content – and content that they may disagree with. “Real men don’t do pornography” shows up in bold on a site with some questionable morals. “Abortion stops a beating heart” and other pro-life messages show up on another left-leaning site. Several sites now display ads for the Book of Mormon. My family thought it was hilarious to watch one of these sites with a stolen image suddenly change when I refreshed the screen to display a customized message of mine. (Note: This is Benjamin Lindsay, 15-year-old son, writing now: “Correction: Jeffrey laughed at his own joke more than anyone else–as usual.”)

Of course, the replacement graphics that I prepare are smaller files than the originals to save bandwidth.

Is this effort too malicious? Naw, I don’t think so. Who knows – it may save a soul or two.

Bandwidth thieves, repent!


Author: Jeff Lindsay

3 thoughts on “Too Malicious? A Prank on Bandwidth Thieves

  1. Hey, if they’re gonna steal your images and bandwidth, then they’re gonna have to pay the consequences, right? ^_^ That oughtta learn ’em, durn ’em!

  2. Have you tried something like this?

    I heard there’s a way you can actually cause any linked images to show up on other sites as something else… for instance, anyone trying to direct-link a picture off your server would get an image that says “I’m a no-good bandwidth thief” or whatever you want. Webhosts like Tripod and Geocities use that method… durn, I had some links for explanations on how to do it, and now I can’t find them!

  3. You can set up your webserver to look at the referer header to see if the browser requesting the image is viewing your site or not, and tell it not to send images to those browsers. This will fix all your bandwidth problems. On the other hand, this will prevent you from using this somewhat interesting form of evangelization.

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