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on-line auction linking to pix on my web site

Revenge - in for a surprise now

     
10:08 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Going through my logs the other day, I found that I had a lot hits for a particular picture on my website coming from the world's most popular online auction site, the one whose name ends with "bay". Apparently, somebody had referenced to my picture instead of taking the trouble of copying it to some other place. Then they went to run dozens of auctions with it.

As a first measure I just renamed the picture, but that just got me a whole lot of 404s for the original picture. As a second thought, I found my revenge could be a bit sweeter.

So instead of the nice and shiny product photo that he uses on his auction, I found a grubby, dirty, messy scene that's still ok for kids to look at, but that will not exactly add spark to his auction. I gave the pic the same name as the original photo, uploaded it and - voila - there is his auction with the link to my grubby pic. Nice.

I'll probably still have that traffic for a while, but at least I feel I've paid the lazy bugger back some!

If people steal they might as well try to be clever about it and not leave their traces all over the place.

I have the right to name the pictures on my web site any way I want, and also change them around at my whim, don't I? Or are there any recriminations in it for me?

cheers

teylyn

10:12 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Yes. It is fully your right to do as you wish with your site. I recently had the inclination to do the same thing with a file on my site, but chose to just give the bandwidth stealer a 404 instead of a nasty surprise.
11:33 pm on Nov 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago... I found a pic of a 500lbs woman in her undies and added a caption saying this ebay user is stealing my images and not to buy from him.

The auctions were cancelled a few days later.

12:06 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Ha! good one. I just added a caption to the pic.

I'll have some fun watching the auctions. ;-))))

12:11 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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heh. probably my best one was this rap forum where they were listing their favorite 'gangsta rap' albums (with pictures from other sites of course...) well, i replaced all this one guys album covers with things like the pixies, bjork, etc. his buddies were hounding him for a few until they figured it out.

depends on the mood whether i just block it or do something else, though.

-kpaul

12:54 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Give them a swastika and a link to a hate site in the image with the words, "Every dollar you spend goes to support our cause".

If that doesn't work, the words "Help us free Saddam Hussein" with image would be fun to try.

3:05 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Twist, I literally LOLd at that.

I had a similar issue a while ago, not with auctions, but a few popular sites were linking. I replaced them with mildly offensive images and some embedded text talking about the theft, and just left it. Was quite a few sites linking to the same image. Most were gone within a month.

3:17 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Back when I didn't run an affiliate program and didn't have any legitimate reasons for someone to hotlink images on my site, I created copies of product images with stamps that said someting like: "Order it at ....com, item 12345"

And I used mod rewrite to serve the images without a stamp for hits with refferrer as my domain or no referrer at all. But if there was a request with a referrer that was not in my list, the response was the duplicate image of the same product, but with that stamp on it.

That turned those ebay sellers and other bandwidth thieves into my promoters.

On top of that, I added a 2-week ahead expiration header so that the product images would be cached by the browsers. That way, those sellers still kept seeing the images without a stamp because they themselves have first requested it from my site. The sellers saw the normal image on their auction page while everyone else who visited their auction saw my stamp.

3:31 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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bcc1234,

I wish I had even an inkling of how to do what you describe, and I can't wait for the new site search to research mod rewrite and expiration header. I'm not a webmaster, more a dabbler in visual appearances but I am intrigued about what you wrote.

How about a crash course for the technically challenged?

Love the idea!

cheers

teylyn

3:38 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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How about a crash course for the technically challenged?

Use your favorite search engine. All that info is available outside of WW.

Oh yeah, for stamping images in batches, search for ImageMagick.

7:38 am on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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2-week ahead expiration header

First time I have heard of that, what a great idea!

9:43 pm on Nov 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

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teylyn,

If you'd like to search WW, just use "advanced" search at gooooooooooogle and limit the results to the WW domain. Works like a charm.

5:03 pm on Nov 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

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teylyn said:
How about a crash course for the technically challenged?

Teylyn: For information on hotlink prevention and serving up alternate images, do a search using keywords such as "hotlink protection [google.com]" (without the quote-marks). Your server host may also have information, and you may be able to install hotlink protection through your cPanel, if you have such.

Luddite replied to teylyn, saying:

If you'd like to search [WebmasterWorld], just use "advanced" search at [Google] and limit the results to the WW domain.

Luddite: Actually, that doesn't work any more. In an effort to deal with overwhelming bot attacks, all bots have been banned from WebmasterWorld through the robots.txt text file. (Various threads have been started on this issue; check the "Home" page for some recent ones [webmasterworld.com].)

So WebmasterWorld is no longer listed in Google. There is currently no way to search the site.

Eliz.

3:33 pm on Nov 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Luddite: Actually, that doesn't work any more.

D'oh.

2:06 pm on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Fortunately, Google isn't the only search engine: expiration header [alltheweb.com].
5:06 pm on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This has just happened to me with a seller on the same auction site mentioned in the first post (in fact, that auction site is the number one location of people stealing my content). I modified the images so that they read "Text and Images Stolen From [name of my company]" after ebay took their time responding to my complaint about the 15 items that involve the theft of my content. Today ebay told me that those images are not clearly mine because they aren't the same picture as on the page on my site. This is even though they not only have my company name on them but are even being hotlinked off my server. What a bunch of Einsteins.
6:45 pm on Nov 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

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This is even though they not only have my company name on them but are even being hotlinked off my server.

They don't seem to have a problem with copyright, so I suggest you send them an image with their logo with words below it saying, "Ebay is a strong supporter of Abortion" or "Ebay supports anti-abortion". Then send a link to the page to a bunch of news channels or websites.

If the story were to break into the news, Ebay would then have to come foward and say, "thats not our image, that image came from this website". Now you have them admitting they stole your image, and sue them. They will either have to tell the judge that indeed it was their image or that they leeched it from your website.

There is no reason that Ebay should be held to some type of higher standerd than any other website that allows it's members to steal images and leech bandwidth. Except they have deep pockets :)

5:22 pm on Dec 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

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ebay wrote me that my content was removed from all these pages, even though it has not been. I have had to go back and forth with them for a solid week. And now this exact same vendor went and did it again yesterday--took my text again and is hotlinking to images of mine again. This time I changed the images to "[vendor] is a thief." ebay sent me some automated reply saying "we know this is frustrating." It's even more frustrating when they don't stop it.

So I decided to notify some of the other people who are being hotlinked to by this vendor. Let ebay deal with all their complaints also.

8:25 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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classypete: how did you get pics of my wife?

Ive never found that site to be very good with copyright or anything of that ilke.

11:46 pm on Dec 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I've had a few issues with the ebay company and my pictures myself, but the problem I feel is with that specific user and not ebay per se.

What kills me is I have Hotlinking disabled so even if someone hotlinks, the image is immediately broken and will not display on their end... Still, I guess some folks never check their work after clicking save.

Usually, the problem is temporary in nature and lasts a few days, a week or two at the most OR it draws a low amount of hits / 404's... For me, this is not enough to catch my attention, the problem has to go on for months OR draw enough 404 errors before I notice much of anything out of order. Not to say 404's don't get caught, but a few dozen hits simply don't make the top 50 and are usually buried way down there somewhere.

But when I see it, I DO review the problem in question. If, for example, it is a legitimate auction and the ebayer simply thought it would be neat to include a picture they found on my site, I may enable hotlinking for the course of their auction just so they can have what they wanted... After all, most folks simply are not aware of the issues surrounding hotlinking and it is, in these cases, an honest mistake. So, let them have the image, let them run their auction, everybody is happy, ok cool.

Unfortunately with ebay and hotlinking, honest auctions have not always been my experience... At least from what I have seen, it's then some #*$! enlargement product or what have you weird stuff that I can't see most folks finding an interest in, but that's just me. I am not saying ebay auctions are dishonest, but it does appear the honest folk do not hotlink thou it can happen every once in a bit.

With this it becomes a matter of persistence... IF the ebayer runs the auction and steals the image and all that problem then goes away when it's all said and done, I am ok with it. But there is the occasional brute who, 3-4 months into it simply will NOT cease and desist, despite my contacting them via Ebay to inform them of the exact nature of the problem and to please fix it, the problem continues and gives no outward or apparent sign of disappearing, at this point I usually contact Ebay's abuse department.

12:22 pm on Dec 5, 2005 (gmt 0)

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ebay seems really disorganized on this issue. This vendor was using images and texts on 15 items, and I had to email ebay about it for two weeks. Each time they would take only a few of them down and say everything is fixed now when still many items remained up with my content, even with pics that said "Stolen from my company name." I don't know if they just didn't read the whole email or just didn't care. I thought it was really unbusinesslike of ebay. They are making so much money; surely they can pay enough to hire competent people.

At the same time, there has been some soccer forum in Brazil that was hotlinking to an image hundreds of times a day. Must have been someone using it for an avatar, but I could not find out because the forums were hidden from public view and everything was in Portugese. I tried emailing the webmaster, but no one responded, so I learned how to use htaccess to block their ip. I've been wanting to learn how to use it, so this had a good outcome.

I'm not going to block all hotlinking, though, since it seems like one easy way to find out if someone is using my text. It seems like lots of hotlinkers steal text too.

3:00 am on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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:) the ebay trader who stole my pictures is no longer a registered user :). he used to have a gazillion auctions and now he has zero, nix, zilch
:)
:)
:)
:)
6:48 pm on Dec 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

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while hotlinking is annoying, i've never found it to be a very SERIOUS problem....

in fact, changing the picture on hotlinked sites is one of my favorite things to do, it's hilarious, fun, and you can just imagine the other person's surprise, especially if they are hotlinking without knowing what they are really doing (most hotlinkers seem to be clueless that they are doing anything wrong....)

if all else fails, use an htaccess file to stop hotlinking for good, there are several threads on this site that address htaccess and it's pretty easy to do

10:23 pm on Dec 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

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After saying I took the opportunity to learn how to use .htaccess to stop the hotlinking I was experiencing, I discovered that I wasn't doing it correctly. I finally gave up with that and had to paw through hundreds of profiles on a Brazilian soccer fan site until I found the particular file the individual was using as an avatar. Then I changed the file, and the hotlinking stopped immediately. But I have looked at various .htacess sites and I still can't figure out what I was doing wrong. Is there somewhere with more detail or a more hand-holding approach to using it?
5:49 pm on Dec 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

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yeah, i learned how to do it here actually

on the "Apache Web Server" forum here on webmasterworld, which has lots of threads like mine, starting: "ok, i don't know anything, what can i do to have .htaccess step by step..."

just post something like that as a new thread on there, or look through the old ones...

btw i'm still showing the pictures as "hits" on my logs, but when i look at the hotlinked sites, they just have a blank space on them where my picture should be, so i assume there is less, if any bandwidth being stolen?

3:32 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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"Today ebay told me that those images are not clearly mine because they aren't the same picture as on the page on my site. This is even though they not only have my company name on them but are even being hotlinked off my server."

Its a little bit of work but .. consider:

1 - rename the imaged being hotlinked from image.jpg to image-1.jpg
2 - use .ai or some other image editor to create a washed out image (transparency set to 25%) .. then create a layer with a nice text add .. "For all Your Widget Needs, consider mysite.com" .. then save that as image.jpg
3 - er .. don't forget to change to the image-1.jpg on your own pages!

I had had a hotlinked image being used as a *background * on a myspace (dot) com member page .. ;>)

5:09 am on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I love some of these ideas. Some people get all the fun.
8:09 pm on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Myspace users are big offenders. I've had lots of fun combatting hotlinkers. I find that I'm not as patient or nice as most. I usually go directly to the high impact action.

The only drawback is that for some sites, with family oriented contents, there's no way I could upload adult material there to fool hotlinkers.

There are many drawbacks to hotlinking, so I don't apply it to all my sites. I have to pick and choose.

I've had lots of fun with Brazilian sites. I got users banned several times by replacing stolen images with large, and I mean interface wrecking large images of porn.

10:42 pm on Dec 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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It's tempting to serve up some foul picture, but you never know if a kid will be seeing it.

Instead, I created a neon orange jpg with baby blue and gold lettering thats says "hotlinking forbidden" + the domain name.

It's so ugly my eyes water when I look at it :-)

1:31 pm on Jan 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I took lcampers' recommendation and went to look at the Apache forum to maybe figure out how to use .htaccess to stop hotlinking, and I finally figured it out. One line was missing from the little file. It's a relief not to have to deal with anymore. Now it's just the text thieves to worry about.
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