menu, Icon dark

What is a hotlinked image?

A hotlinked image is displayed on a website and is visually indistinguishable from other content that surrounds it. However, when someone inspects the website code or clicks the image, it becomes clear that the image in question is just a link projecting content that is hosted on a separate website.

Quick note… Pasting the original link as a reference below a non-hotlinked image doesn’t count as a byline or a hotlink. ;)

To illustrate, imagine that you host a website called “” a non hotlinked image on your site would have code that looked like this:

When you click on a non hotlinked image it may open in a new tab, but the domain will clearly show an address that belongs to “”.

If you had instead found an image that you liked on a popular blog and hotlinked directly to “” the code would look like this:

When you click on a hotlinked image it may open a new tab but the domain will clearly show an address that belongs to ””.

Why I shouldn’t hotlink images?

Hotlinking images without consent is still legal in Europe and the United States. However, the winds of change are blowing. Additionally, there are non-legal disadvantages to using hotlinked images that you should consider before doing so.

Hotlinked content will generally reduce your website’s usability by increasing loading times, which may result in a lower Google ranking. Furthermore, the owner of a hotlinked image can disable a hotlink by deleting, renaming, or worst of all, switching the filename to a separate image. Often putting the hotlinker in an extremely embarrassing situation.

What’s the main takeaway?

Originality is a valuable resource and miss-using someone else's original images legally or illegally can have serious consequences! Producing original content takes time and money and Copyright Agent is here to ensure that producing original work is always worth the effort.

You might also like