All links are not equal

Over on Moore’s Lore, Dana Blankenhorn has worked up a full head of steam on Link Licenses. Unfortunately, I think that he’s wrong. It is true that links are the very fabric of the web and if you don’t want to be linked, then you shouldn’t post on the web. But all links are not equal and that’s where Dana’s argument breaks down.

Because when it comes to links on the web, context and attribution matter. If the context of the link implies that it is your creation, then you should provide attribution for the link. In this case, the tag was used to display a graphic from another site – implying that Dana had the right to use that graphic. I don’t agree with the language that the owner used in requesting Dana to stop. But I agree that it was his right to ask Dana to either license the graphic or stop.

Adding injury to insult, hotlinking images also transfers bandwidth expense from the linker to the source – Dana was using 75k of someone else’s bandwidth on each viewing. Of course, mod_rewrite can be used to substitute another graphic, but that shouldn’t be necessary in the first place.