Who ordered the scrambled brains?

Sabemclrd Bniras indeed!

More Than Techno-babble

We all remember my hilarious! wacky! zany! post titled Soul Ballads. Well, you were able to enjoy that story and the images presented in it because I spent time setting up a webserver and I pay money out of my pocket to pay the electricity and internet connectivity that avails that content to you. Of course, now that I’ve made images, audio, and so on available on the internet at my expense and for the enjoyment of my webpage visitors, any jackhole can come along and link to those files from somewhere else. For example, take this … “person’s” pathetic blog entry. You’ll notice there’s no picture of Carl Winslow. Thirty minutes ago there was. But I was looking through my server log and I noticed this line:

66.194.177.67 - - [05/Oct/2005:11:54:06 -0700] "GET /wp-content/carl.jpg HTTP/1.1" 200 15619 "http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=30894437&blogID=51841234&Mytoken=11AA020C-7D28-11DD-D92A107F1E0D141A3925678" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; SV1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)"

What the hell are people at that webpage retrieving carl.jpg for, I thought. Apparently, that image as hosted on my webserver is on the first page of Google’s image search response for “carl winslow“. So I went ahead and implemented hotlink prevention by requiring all requests to files in my /wp-content and /files directories to originate from people currently browsing my website, and no others. (Here are some useful examples: nukenfootzsen.com, unix-girl.com.) In particular, I added

RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)?scrambledbrains\.net/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://profile\.myspace\.com/index\.cfm\?fuseaction=user\.viewprofile&friendID=82700
RewriteRule (.*) - [F]

Yeah, I linked to a picture I host from Steve’s MySpace profile, so I made an exception for that page. So no more hotlinking, freaks.

So what I wanted to say that might be of interest to non-techies is this: Consider the fact that web addresses can depend on someone’s time, money, and hard work. Access to someone’s personal website is a favor and privilege they have given you. Respect that favor; don’t abuse. Linking to content on that person’s website without first asking permission, notifying or even crediting them, is not much different than telling all your friends to go onto some rich dude’s property and look in through a window at his collection of Chagall paintings. That borders on offensive or abusive. In my opinion, as do all social places, the internet (www, mail, instant messaging, peer to peer sharing, and so on) has etiquette, and participants thereof are obliged to learn it.

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