Insert from URL Options/Hotlinking?

I am concerned about having the option to "Insert from URL" option available to site admins on my multisite network. I think a ton of my type of bloggers will use this to grab photos from all around the web.

I believe this is what is considered "Hotlinking" and is highly discouraged if not downright illegal. If members of my multisite network used this, could I be liable for it? What could happen to me as a result?

If there is a lot that could be done to me about this, is there a way to remove the "Insert from URL" option from their UI? It is interesting though, because even Tumblr (huge blog network) allows its members to "Insert from URL" and I have seen tons of images taken from everywhere and used on personal blogs there.

Doesn't seem like anyone is doing anything about it. Am I wrong for worrying about this? Thanks for any help and advice you can provide!


  • Paul Barthmaier
    • Code Wrangler

    Hey Mike,

    I think it's fine to be concerned about something like this, but I wouldn't want to be afraid of linking from a URL. There are plenty of reasons that this is preferable to uploading. Personally, I have some photos on a CDN that I'll link to and this way my image shows with minimal taxation on my server, which increases page load times.

    If you want to protect yourself legally, you can always put something in your Terms of Service. Something like, by using this network you agree to only use images for which you have a legal right to use.

    Hope this helps.


  • Gabe
    • The Bug Hunter

    I'd be less worried about hotlinking and more worried about copyright infringement. Hotlinking is frowned upon, but not illegal. Hosts can easily block hotlinking server side if it becomes an issue.

    If a member can't hotlink, it only takes a few more seconds to save/upload the image to their own site, so it's really not worth your time to disable it. Additionally, disabling it would disallow customers from adding pictures from Amazon S3 or other external sources.

    To protect yourself you could add some copyright infringement/DMCA copy in your terms of service and make it easy for copyright offenses to be reported. You'd then be required to remove the content from your network within a certain period of time. You'll need to do some research/consult with competent counsel for real advice, but this should get you started. Hope this helps.

  • Mike Price
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    Hey Gabe,

    Thank you very much for your input. I have the Moderation plugin which I can easily add "Copyright" as one of the reasons to report a post. and I will definitely add this to my terms of service. You make excellent points. Have a great New Year!

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