Saturday, October 30, 2004

Bandwidth Bandit

I admit it. I'm a bandwidth bandit.

Cartoon of Old West Bandit

I once wrote a stupid little post about how one of Lafayette's mayoral candidates looked like Unfrozen Caveman lawyer. I found pictures of each and included them. About two days later, I received a comment written in chat room speak saying how the author had hacked my site. I went to the page and saw that the caveman picture had been replaced with a closeup of a woman's most private area being invaded by a vegetable. Not the comparison I was trying to make!

I quickly changed my Blogger password, and found a new picture to use in place of the rude one. I couldn't figure out how he had found my password.

It was only recently that I figured out that the hacker hadn't hacked at all. He just posted a different picture with the same name that I had used. It finally sunk in when another picture I had repurposed in a different blog quit working. I tried the picture's URL and received a message from the host that the user's bandwidth limit had been exceeded. I'm so slow sometimes.

All of the pictures you see in these posts are hosted on other servers. I never really thought about the fact that the person who posted the file may not want others to use it. Probably because I get free disk space and bandwidth from my employer (500MB of disk with some ungodly high transfer limit), and I use the free Blogspot service for this blog. Most webpage owners have to pay for space and bandwidth.

By linking to a graphic on another site, am I "stealing" bandwidth from the person paying the bill? (I'm not talking about copyright laws right now, just webserver resources.) It's not entirely black and white, but I don't think I am. If a person uploads a file - text, graphic, audit, etc - then they must realize that others may view the file. We would love to control how web content is viewed, but that's difficult to do. I have seen the more sophisticated web operators that setup limits as to how some files may be called. (Deep linking not allowed!) If you want to control it, do it actively.

As I read what I have just written, I see that I am sounding like an uncaring capitalist.... Oh, well. I guess it had to come out sometime! :)

i don't agree. i pay for my bandwidth and i have had what i thought was an unreachable limit exceeded because some people over at LJ and Xanga were using some of my photolog pictures for background images. every time someone viewed their sites i got hit for it, until finally i got a shutoff warning. i finally had to add an .htaccess file, to prohibit people from directly linking. honestly, i don't care if you or anyone wants to use one of my images in a non-commercial way, just save it to your own hard drive!

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