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Using Apache to Block Image Leeches

Pronet Advertising advises you to “Protect Your Site’s Content” and they give a plug to a $200 tool that helps those poor souls using IIS as their web server. If you’re running the open source apache web server, here’s a free solution I worked out after many MySpace users starting embedding funny photos from into their web pages:

  1. Create an image to send to people that attempt to leech your images. you could be rude or mean, but I simply put up an ad for my own web site. Keep it as small as you can, since it may be used a lot. My photo is at
  2. Ideally, put this into a directory block in your httpd settings file. Or you can put it into your .htaccess file.
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !^/images/no-hot/linking\.jpg$
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$ [NC]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(www\.)? [NC]
    RewriteRule \.(jpe?g)$ /images/no-hot/linking.jpg [L]
    RewriteEngine off

    Line 2 is the image you want people to see (your ad or nasty note).

    Line 3 allows normal images to be sent to people who don’t send a referrer.

    Change line 4 to be your domain name. This domain will be allowed.

    Line 5 changes what image is sent on image requests. If a jpg is requested send the replacement image.

  3. Restart your web server and test.

That’s all there is to it. Definitely let me know if you have problem with this.