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My dear friend WDWParksGal, formerly a Community Volunteer, recently discovered that one of her deviations was being "high jacked", or the proper used termed, "hot linked". This is a very serious issue that not only affects the deviant,  but also deviantArt. We have been overwhelmed with this issue the last few weeks causing many stock providers and  too many manipulators to change the way they handle their deviations and sites. A few have emptied their gallery and left dA completely.    

Since I had the opportunity, I asked her if she would like to write an article concerning this matter, and she jumped at the chance! So following is WDWParksGal thoughts on this situation.

I have been creating Photomanipulations for about six-years now. I have learned a lot, not just by experimenting with my PhotoShop Elements Programs that I have purchased over the years, but by watching YouTube tutorial videos, talking to other Manipulators, reading dA Tutorials by those deviants kind enough to write out detailed instructions featuring what they have learned and by joining groups like manipulatethis that have a community of manipulators that are willing to comment, give critiques and share tips with other members. Even deviants like RedHeadStock that provide brushes and instructions on how to use/adjust them, Tutorial artists that explain about various effects, for example lighting, and manipulators like thefantasim who write out full-page articles outlining how to produce Space and Depth, as well as explaining Elements and Principals of Design, Differences Between Scenes and Design, or just talking about "stuff manipers need to know", have helped me greatly over the years.

:gallery: Those are prime examples of the positive aspects of the Photomanipulation Gallery, presently being overseen by SanguineVamp.

The Photomanipulation community is a tight one and we all usually encourage and support each other.... even when the seedier side of the Internet surfaces its ugly head.... art theft and hot-linking.

:icongnomethiefplz: Art theft comes in different sizes and intents. A theft can be as minor as taking a picture and re-posting it on another site (not for sale) to taking a deviation and setting it up as prints, T-Shirts and other merchandise for sale. The thieves can go as far as to re-post the work putting their own watermarks and signatures on the art!

:deviation: When posting work on deviantART, a screen name is imbedded in the code. How? I have NO idea, but I can say I have found my work all over the world on a variety of sites simply by using Google to search for my screen name or using the image link (click on the camera) to locate a specific deviation (right-click and choose 'copy image location'). If a site posts a wallpaper with a link to one of my sites, that's fine, but I have seen my wallpapers and private work, like my manipulations, on other sites with "new" signatures and a download that shows it has been re-posted with no link back.

:iconarttheftplz: To fight the theft, a letter has to written to the hosting site in the language of the host. Finding out what language the site is in is a trick. If the language can be deciphered using an online translator, either use Google Translator or see if there is another deviant that may be able to provide help in writing a coherent letter to the hosting site. Provide links to the original works, link to the site of the thief/thieves and demand to have the stolen work taken down. Sites like eBay will require a link to every single stolen work matched with the thief's doppelganger. It can be time-consuming and a pain in the rear, but often the stolen work will be removed. One kicker that can be an obstacle is having to pay for membership to a site where stolen works are posted before a complaint can be filed. Depending on the cost of joining, it may not worth the time and trouble to join in order to report the theft.

:helpdesk: If a stolen piece is taken from one deviant and posted on the site of another deviant, then report the theft to the Help Desk by using the "Report Deviation" button on the lower, right of the deviation page. Provide the link to your own work that was stolen and a $taff member will get to it promptly. dA takes art theft very seriously.

:shakefist: Another HUGE irritation I have come across many times is hot-linking!!

So You Think You Can Hotlink by deviantdash

Hot-linking is when someone illegally links to the download of a posted work and has it set so that when his/her site is opened the work appears. How to tell when a deviation is hot-linked is easy enough. The downloads far exceed the deviation views! When hot-linking, a person is stealing dA's bandwidth, which is a no-no! :police:

:iconsadcomputerplz: Recently I found one my stock exclusives that I thought I had well hidden, not only have over 5000 views but have over 8000 downloads! Once it was found, I re-saved it to a Sta.sh and deleted it. For some of my manipulations (from both of my sites) that I have found hot-linked, I had to edit and disable the download option. It is especially annoying considering it screws with my statistics! For wallpapers that were hot-linked, I edited and made the wallpaper 1600 pixels then disabled the download. I didn't have a chance to go through all my manipulations and wallpapers but did manage to get through some of the more popular ones.

I suspect this one is hot-linked due to the fact the downloads are nearly equal to the deviation views and there were four downloads just today:
Pirate Map Matey by WDWParksGal

This had over 62,000 downloads before I disabled the download, whereas the deviation views are short of 35,000:
Sleeping Beauty Castle Disneyland by WDWParksGal

On my stock site, =WDWParksGal-Stock I had to disable the download on a manipulation that I made into a wallpaper that is clearly marked that it is not stock:
Vampire Lust Mixed Media by WDWParksGal-Stock

Also on my stock site are these wallpapers I just found where you can see the downloads exceed the deviations views, showing they are still hot-linked:


Add a Comment:
 
:icon10eke-stock:
10eke-stock Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2012
Ever since I found out what hot-linking was really about I discouraged it. (Sometimes it is very hard to explain - or even some people do not understand it al all :()
What shocked me was that I did not know that with a Google image search all my deviations are showing. I disabled viewing for non-members but still it shows the thumbnails, and in case of my manips the bigger images as well :(
I need to go over the view/download rates, haven't realized the d/l might be caused by hot-linking.
Reply
:iconthefantasim:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2012   Digital Artist
I don't mind my images showing up under either of my work, as long as it's a thumb, not the real thing. And I certainly discourage hot linking. If someone wants to use my art for something, all they need to do is ask. But most people are really ignorant to the fact that not everything on the web is in the public domain.
Reply
:iconrachburns:
RachBurns Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've gotta be the slowest in mind today. :facepalm: So I'm sorry that I'm going to ask something that's probably clearly stated in this. >< Count this as trying to be doubly sure, please.

If I were going to post someone's art to my site (with proper permissions/links to their dA and to the picture itself of course), I'd need to save a copy of their piece to my Photobucket so I can have it show on the blog to keep from hotlinking?

Again, I'm sorry I'm making you repeat what probably should be the obvious.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal-stock:
WDWParksGal-Stock Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I feature thumbs in my journals all the time. deviants usually appreciate a feature! If you use Sta.sh and link to a full-size deviation, it is still hotlinking, but it is within dA. Just notify the deviant you are featuring. When I feature a thumb at #DevNews I leave a comment saying it has been featured. Never once have I had someone ask me not to feature!
Reply
:iconrachburns:
RachBurns Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Alright. Thank you very much for that! ^^ Any way to get features done is good.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal-stock:
WDWParksGal-Stock Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree. I have a widget for thumb features from manipulations challenges that I change out whenever there are new ones. They are in my faves, so the feature is connected to a Folder in my faves :aww:
Reply
:iconrachburns:
RachBurns Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hee. I wonder if I have the patience to handle more of those...Would be fun to do now and again! Thank you so much for the ideas. ^^
Reply
:iconthefantasim:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012   Digital Artist
By creating a link from Photobucket you are hot linking because it's being posted somewhere other then dA. Someone can click the link at Photobucket instead of at dA. Yes, it's reflecting the bandwidth of dA, but dA does have to pay for the bandwidth. And where do they get the money for the bandwidth. Us.

If you're posting only at dA inside of your journal, and telling the deviant that you are featuring their deviation in your journal, there shouldn't be a problem. But if someone doesn't want their work in a journal, let's hope they nicely ask you to remove the deviation.
Reply
:iconrachburns:
RachBurns Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hm. Okay, so I couldn't do that anywhere but on this site then. *nod* Thank you so very much. Would it be the same then, if I were to just directly link it?

Or would it be better that I don't try that at all in any way? XD

And thanks for explaining this to me! :hug: I've been searching for these flippin answers forever and everyone was just screaming 'look it up', as if I wouldn't have been trying in the first place.
And I'd be happy to remove a piece that someone would rather me not post. :nod: It's their work, after all. Usually I'd be aiming to ask them before doing anything.
Reply
:iconjane-beata:
jane-beata Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Your helpful article has been FEATURED :heart:

:frail:
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Thanks for the feature for the article :aww: ~ on my stock site, =WDWParksGal-Stock, I emphasized art theft as it pertains to those who take screenshots/caps of celebrities, film clips, etc. and make "stock" out of them. I encourage deviants to report such theft to get "ripped" deviations off of dA!
Reply
:iconastrangeallure:
astrangeallure Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
wow, I had no idea any of this could even be done...weird...thanks so much for taking the time to do this!!!
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
I was certainly surprised the first time I had a deviation where the downloads exceeded the deviation views. Telling my daughter about it she explained about hot-linking and how that uses bandwidth. I was not happy when I found that out!
Reply
:icondanempire:
DAnEmpire Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
Thanks for this article! I have a deviation that's hotlinked. I knew something was suspicious about the high download count, but I didn't know why until now. I guess I'll reupload it.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Instead of re-uploading, just deactivate the download. For my deviations I increased the size of the view then deactivated the download. Hopefully that takes care of the issue.
Reply
:icondanempire:
DAnEmpire Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
...I forgot I could deactivate downloads. :lol: Thanks for reminding me. I uploaded it anyway, but either way it's sorted now.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
That's good. It is sad what extremes we have to go to keep people from helping themselves to our work!
Reply
:iconiamsorrowflute:
IamSorrowflute Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a serious problem for all deviants here. I hope dA is taking action on this.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
It is annoying, that is for sure. I am sure hotlinking is more prevalent than people are aware!
Reply
:iconrequiemachina:
Requiemachina Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012
I had no idea that that was possible.
Thanks for sharing the insight.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
:nod:
Reply
:icondismentse:
Dismentse Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Student Digital Artist
:iconreactionplz:
:iconglarefaceplz:
:iconreaction2plz: people steal that?
Reply
:icononionscratch-paper:
onionscratch-paper Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
"...setting it up as prints, T-Shirts and other merchandise for sale."

This is really true. There are tons of anime fanart that are being mass produced as posters, stickers and coloring books (and sometimes they also use it as designs for packaging) from China. And there are so many instances where I saw these products contain fanarts that I saw in dA!
Reply
:iconvilest:
Vilest Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012
If dA didn't want hot linking, they'd simply set up an HTACCESS condition that prevents hot linking.

I share my art on forums via the download link. It's very helpful not having to upload it to multiple places, and my profile name is in the direct link to the image, it's not like they can't find me.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
That is why I have a premium PhotoBucket account. People are free to find CSS backgrounds, etc., and can use those links to connect to their sites. There is stock on my PhotoBucket site, stamps, headers.... all sorts of things that are free to use and access.
Reply
:iconvilest:
Vilest Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
Valid point, there are places specifically for hosting images. I guess I am just a person of loose morals, lmao
Reply
:iconitsnotfilia:
ItsNotFilia Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Hot linking may be disabled and dA haven't done so in their 12 years of existence, as far as I'm aware. In fact, they've kind of done the opposite.

Personally, I don't think there's a problem (:iconwooooplz:) with hot linking (on dA anyway) per se, so long as it's done in good faith. If people are concerned about their stats being messed up, the better option would probably be for the download button to actually prompt the download, instead of providing a static link to the original image of the deviation in question. Also, from my experience, hot linked preview images don't contribute to your counters.
Reply
:iconthefantasim:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012   Digital Artist
I know how to prevent hot linking, but I hate it when it's done to zips that contain files that you legitimately want to share. It all comes down to bandwidth and how a person feels about it.
Reply
:iconitsnotfilia:
ItsNotFilia Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I believe that bandwidth is the concern of dA, rather than its users, in this specific context.

Regarding how a person feels about it, the way you're putting it sounds rather subjective to me and I'd truthfully prefer to rely on practical, ethical and (maybe) legal reasons, instead; for example, I told `WDWParksGal that one reason I'd understand/agree with is 'control over distribution', in the sense that you'd rather make people visit your page prior to any sort of download, to at least bump into your most recent license terms and description of the deviation(s) in question.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
I am assuming when a deviation is hotlinked as a background causes the download views to go up. Having deviations with twice the downloads than deviation views means there is a direct link somewhere. Personally, I find it irritating that people use the bandwidth to hotlink instead of uploading to their own site or use a housing site like PhotoBucket.
Reply
:iconitsnotfilia:
ItsNotFilia Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If you use the download link, yes. But if you use the preview link, no - that's why I suggested changing the behaviour of the download button, as it would address the posed counter issue without necessarily disrupting that method of sharing.

Regarding bandwidth concerns, I truthfully believe that's dA's matter and the call (on grounds of bandwidth) should normally be theirs; thus, our personal impressions would not have a lot of weight and I don't feel it's right for us to decide for them.




However, there is one reason that I'd understand, namely getting a bit of control over distribution: having people visit the page prior to downloading (regardless of context) would, at the very least, get them to bump into the most recent license associated with the work and/or artist's description, and I believe that can be beneficial in a sense.
Reply
:icongillianivy:
GillianIvy Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Interesting way to check, never thought much about it. Views versus downloads. Thanks for the info. And glad to know that my username is embedded into my uploads. Good luck clearing up all the misuses of your property.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
Another way to check for an image that I got from `Casperium is to right-click and save image location, then go to Images.Google.com and click on the camera to the right of the search bar then paste the image code into it. I have found it a good way to find background images that are screencaps that deviants may put a drawing over. Useful when vetting group submissions.

Another search option I got from *FrostBo is:
inurl:dAname.deviantart.com -site:dAname.deviantart.com
Put your dAname in the two spots then paste into Google. I found my stuff on sites in China! :wow: :faint:
Reply
:icongillianivy:
GillianIvy Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, the first one is how I found my art stolen in China too. It is a fan art, and I have had no resolution on it. :( Good info about inurl: and site: (wow, those show everything I've ever posted on this site)

Checking group submissions for the CSS groups I'm in is not so easy, we check the code sometimes. It is hard to be dilligent on since you have to know what the original was to compare if something is stolen.
Reply
:iconthefantasim:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012   Digital Artist
Thank you. And I embed too. :)
Reply
:icondarkborder:
DarkBorder Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Aahhhh!
Reply
:iconparallellogic:
parallellogic Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012
:laughing: Downloads exceeding views due to hot linking? You don't say... [link] - Hot-linking is a pretty useful feature when used for the intended purpose
Reply
:iconthefantasim:
thefantasim Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012   Digital Artist
I just mentioned in anohther comment that someone was hot linking from my gaming fan site. Not just mine, but others and these were files meant for the game as well as the images that I had created. He was doing it to many of us gaming people. And as soon as someone told me that they were finding my "individual property" on their website (my images and my files were being hot linked), we told the web host and that site was removed.

You see, hot linking uses up the hot link host's bandwidth. Some people have a limited amount of bandwidth per month and when someone is hot linking, it's like using the person's electricity. How would you like someone stealing your electricity?
Reply
:iconparallellogic:
parallellogic Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012
You seem to be confused. I am not endorsing the abuse of hot-links. I'm saying that while they may be misused in certain instance there are some very legitimate uses for them.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2012
I was under the impression that deviants weren't supposed to hotlink from within dA, let alone people hotlinking deviations to other sites! That is why I opened my PhotoBucket account to begin with, where I house CSS backgrounds, headers, footers, etc., as well as group icons and extra stock!
Reply
:iconjust-a-little-knotty:
Just-A-Little-Knotty Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Phyllis, when we do features in our journals & use code to make one or two of the images really large, we are hotlinking those lol
Look at this journal [link] , See where I made the required stock super sized? that is hotlinked as it isn't done using the thumb code.
When I place the large images on my profile page, they are hotlinked as well.
So as much as it pissed me off when other sites do this, if they disabled that function we would again be loosing a feature that a lot of us use on a regular basis :nod:
So hotlinking isnt always used on other sites. Thats what I think parallegellogic was trying to say here.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
I don't care if a deviation is hotlinked to a journal, what irritates me is having a deviation hotlinked as a background on another site. When my dev has 62,000 downloads versus less than 30,000 deviation views it screws with my statistics, as well as not providing my own site with feedback.

When I first joined dA it was drilled into my head not to hotlink, so I created a PhotoBucket account to house banners, headers, CSS backgrounds, etc.

I find it irritating, too, that people who don't have dA accounts use the bandwidth. Either deviants pay for their sites or are subjected to ads, so they have a right to the use, but some random Facebook accounts or whatever other sites take a deviation via hotlinking they aren't paying in any way for use of the bandwidth.
Reply
:iconjust-a-little-knotty:
Just-A-Little-Knotty Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
I havent seen anyone hotlink on FB. They just outright steal the art & upload it as their own lol.
Ive found my stuff offered for downloads on bloggs. When you hit the download button, it sends them to the direct download link rather than the deviation page.
Or if its art, they open image in a new tab and allow download this way [link] again bypassing the deviation page. Now if they asked if they could blog my stuff, and were willing to link to the deviation page rather than the direct download, Id have probably been ok with that in the beginning.
But not anymore :no:
I thought Id just password my zips & DA put a stop to that.
Now its for DA use only unless they want to buy the right to use it offsite.
Ive always had unrestricted stock. But Im really tired of being taken advantage of.
This way I can keep track of who should be using it offsite.
I keep records of those who purchases the commercial use license for my freebies.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012
:giggle: They just outright steal the stuff.... I resemble that remark because I have used different search types and have my stuff all over the world and rarely linking back to my site. The stock is one thing, but my "regular" deviations are ripped off, too, which amazes some people who have told me numerous times I am the worst artist ever!!!!!
Reply
:iconjust-a-little-knotty:
Just-A-Little-Knotty Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
:lol: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there really is no bad art.
It's merely the opinion of the person who is viewing it. :hug:
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 18, 2012
I hear that! There is a Stamp [link] in my shoutboard that says "Almighty Art God" and the artist description questions the deviants who state emphatically what is and is not art!
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconparallellogic:
parallellogic Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2012
As far as I know, dA has the capability (as does any site) to disable hot-linking, external or internal to the site - it's their bandwidth and they can control how it's used - much like how Photobucket will put up a default image when you have exceeded some monthly number of image uses. You can deny or redirect hot-linking image traffic if there is reason to do so. I wouldn't say dA endorses hot-links, but they don't appear to take any active measures against such usage either.
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2012
I have a premium PhotoBucket account. Does that mean there isn't a limit I can use from the housing site? I use it for CSS backgrounds, extra stock, stamps, headers, etc. It is only $25 for premium access and I got it thinking it gave me a broader access :nod:
Reply
:iconparallellogic:
parallellogic Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
I am not familiar with the PhotoBucket ToS, it's possible they remove the limit for subscribers, but they may just raise it to a very high level
Reply
:iconwdwparksgal:
WDWParksGal Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2012
That could be. One of the issues I had prior to get the account subscribed was the limit on the size of the downloads. Now I can upload a slew of pictures taken at a picnic and send the link to relatives without much of a problem :aww:
Reply
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