As used here, a hotlink is when someone uses a link to publish one of your site’s objects (usually, your images) from your site to theirs. Harmless? Hardly, and this practice can be illegal!

Firstly, if your images are originals and/or you hold the copyright, you may not want this content used by others for their gain. Secondly, if these images are highly popular, hotlinking from other sites puts a drain on your server to display them on the offender’s site. In other words, your hosting bandwidth is called upon to display your work on their site, and oftentimes without credit back to you.

GOOD NEWS: You can thwart this by adding the following code snippet to your .htaccess file:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http(s)?://(www\.)? [NC]
RewriteRule \.(jpg|jpeg|png|gif)$ – [NC,F,L]

Be sure to change ‘’ above with your actual domain name (no quote marks).

broken imageAfter implementing the code, your images on external sites will show up as broken, a 403 error in the header.

That’s it, Enjoy!

Share This