Fighting Content Thieves With Photos

Content theft is a major pain in the neck with almost every big blog. I have had this blog copied and pasted verbatim several times over the years and always used the good old DMCA method to fight off the thieves

Fighting Content Thieves With Photos

But photographer Neil van Niekerk (who runs the excellent Tangents photography blog) came up with a way more amusing way to fight of those content ripoffs using photos.

Basically he set up his server to serve a different set of photos to his readers and to the infringing site. Here is Neil’s description, which is kinda of an interesting tale:

Soooooo … I found someone who copied and pasted an entire blog post of mine to her blog. Better yet, she hot-linked to my images.

And now … the delicious moment when I swap out the images to porn so that anyone who visits her blog is greeted by some hardcore porn.

(I already changed file names on my own site, so I won’t be affected).

To be perfectly fair, Neil did alert the infringing site on the fact they are infringing on his content and gave them some time to correct their ways.

While using porn is a bit harsh, a similar method with pictures showing a “this content is stolen” tag line will probably work just as well. Here is a picture you can use courtesy of DIYP:

Fighting Content Thieves With Photos

Tangents reader Luke Brookhart adds that you don’t actually have to swap the image, and can hack the site’s .htacess file to serve the same end, with much less work.

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule \.jpg$ [R,L]

lead photo by Nanagyei.

[Fighting Content Thieves With Photos | Neil van Niekerk]

  • berdandy

    Even better, one could use a combination of mod_rewrite, imagemagick and a quick PHP script to watermark externally linked images with a link directly to purchase, a la Getty:

  • MadBoy

    I say leave it as porn. When you steal as a means to profit from another’s hard work you get what you deserve.

  • L0Ler

    The Problem with the Porn-Idea is, that you have to own the rights on that Porn-Pics… Or do you have (legal) Porn you made your own?

    • Anim8me2

      Actually you don’t. Technically the porn is just sitting hidden on your server. The infringing site is the one displaying it.

      • Kodiak_Marmoset

        Also If I’m not mistaken porn is not protected under copyright law. Something about useful to the arts or science.

  • VitaminCM

    Funny, I had a big problem with this a few years ago and did a very similar thing.
    One of the infringers was an elementary school though, so I got a little more creative (and less raunchy). I changed it to an image that said “Mr. Johnson would like to announce that all quizzes and homework assignments have been cancelled for the week.” I would have loved that when I was in school.

  • Darmstadtium

    Where is the link to Neil van Niekerk’s article you are quoting from?

    • udi tirosh

      it is from his facebook :)
      Also a great place to follow

  • Laurent

    Well, I used to do the same when wy images where hosted on my own website.
    Now do you have a solution for images hosted on blog sites like “”, or on websites like “” or even Facebook ? :-(