As part of being a responsible web site owner, I look through my visitor logs every once in a while to see if anyone is doing things they shouldn’t be. These things include hotlinking which is essentially directly linking to files off my web server without showing the page or context from which I originally intended the files to be presented from. What’s worse is when someone directly embeds my files into their web page without citation. I wind up having to provide the bandwidth for someone else’s web page.

The worst offenders come from these crappy on-line communities like myspace and xanga. These sites are supposed to offer young people a one-stop shop to set up their little sites complete with blogs and photo albums. In reality, these people rarely make use of the blog aspect but instead concentrate on seeing how many images of Orlando Bloom they can hotlink from their site.

I find these sites pathetic. Not because they like Orlando Bloom or whatever celebrity, but because they leech off other web sites to provide the images for own little site. Some of these kids just go overboard with it, cramming upwards to 50 images of whatever into their site. Each image of course, coming from servers they don’t own.

So, I found just such a leecher while combing through my access logs. A xanga user named “spazzypatti” had been directly embedding a link to an 8 Mb Star Wars mp3 file from my server. This meant that anytime anyone visited her xanga site, my server had to transfer over the 8 Mb file so that her visitors could have something to listen to while they perused her site.

No way, not on my watch Betty. I ain’t footing the bandwidth bill for you and your friends. She had a form on her site that allowed me to e-mail her. I politely wrote that I noticed she had linked to one of my files. I also told her she was welcome to download the file to her own computer and then host the file on her server somewhere else. I finally explained to her why hotlinking is bad and why I carry the burden of her actions.

I had actually sent out an identical message to another xanga user who had done the same thing to me with the same mp3 file. Within a day, he had removed the link to my site. Thinking that I could also reason with “spazzypatti”, I let have a whole 24 hours to remove the link. After a day had passed, I checked my logs again. Nope, she hadn’t removed the link. I was still getting requests for that file from her site.

This is where it got interesting for me. I went back to her site to see if she had wrote on her blog that I had e-mailed her. She hadn’t but I nonetheless did see an eye-opening post. Turns out she’s a teenage Republican party supporter and not a fan of Michael Moore. Read the third comment for the post though, my man Zach lays the smackdown. Anyways, I was thinking, not a Michael Moore supporter huh? Yes… yes… I could do something good here.

I quickly found an mp3 file which remixed Moore’s 2003 Oscar acceptance speech as a anti-Bush song. I uploaded the song to my web server and changed the name so it matched the file name that “spazzypatti” had linked to off her site. Now, when anyone went to her site, it would play this anti-Bush song. Perfect! I also made sure to change the links from my other pages so that the original mp3 file could be still found by people who legitimately clicked on it from my web site.

It took her less than half a day to realize what happened. I will give her credit for revisiting my web site and relinking to the newly renamed mp3 file. When I woke up the next morning she had it back to the Star Wars song. I recognized that we could theoretically go around in circles with renaming and relinking so I thought I needed to end it immediately.

I changed the server settings so that there could be no more hotlinking of mp3 files from my server. Though this option was available to me from day one, I thought a polite note was more useful. Then when I found out she was a right-wing hack, I decided to have a little more fun.

I will leave you with two interesting items. The first is that our intrepid Republican appears to be a big Star Wars fan and also a fan of the latest movie. In the latest film, one of the most prominent sub-plots involves the deterioration of rights and freedoms as a leader gains more and more power, supposedly to help wage war more effectively. Ah the irony.

Second, “spazzypatti” appears to have discovered the dangers of writing a blog about her own life. Here’s an excerpt from one of her posts:

“ok so i wont be updating for a while because xanga is pretty stupid and my mom has been reading some of the stuff i/you guys have been writing and she doesnt like the idea of opening my life to every random person on the internet…”

“say i write something about someone and that someone reads what i wrote, then they say something mean..so i say something not nice back which cause a huge fight over something purposeless”

They grow up so fast don’t they? Hey, why do you think I write about what I had for lunch so often? It’s a safe thing to post and no one gets offended.

Until she finds something else to write about, I think “spazzypatti” will have to archive that site for a while.

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