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Q: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves ( Answered,   3 Comments )
Subject: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves
Category: Computers > Internet
Asked by: dancr-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 17 Dec 2002 21:36 PST
Expires: 16 Jan 2003 21:36 PST
Question ID: 126346
I know there is someone or several someones pulling their graphic from
at least one specific file on our site. I don't have access to a good
web analysis package. I would have thought I could have searched on
the URL of the file to turn them up, but that didn't work. Is there a
trick to it or can it not be done at all?

Request for Question Clarification by tar_heel_v-ga on 18 Dec 2002 10:27 PST
Would you be interested in a script that would protect your images
from bandwidth thieves?  If so, do you have PHP access from your host?

Subject: Re: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves
Answered By: theta-ga on 18 Dec 2002 12:17 PST
Hi dancr-ga,
         The reason that you cannot search for the occurrance of the
image using it's URL, is that the image URL is part of the HTML code
of that page, and the search engines do not check the html source of a
page for the occurance of the search string.
         However, Google does provide you with a way to search for all
images from a particular domain. To do this, you will have to follow
these steps :
      - Goto Google's Advanced Search Page
      - In the filetype field, specify the file type of the image (GIF
or JPG)
      - In the domain field, specify the domain of the server on which
the image should be residing. For example, if I want to get all the
images residing on Google's servers, I specify in this
field. You should specify the domain of your site.
      - Leave the 'Find results' keyword fields blank for now. This
will retrieve all pages referring to any of the images on your
      - Now start the search by clicking on the Google Search button.

The results page will show thumbnails of the pictures Google found.
Below the thumbnail, the address of the page which refers to it will
be given. If any external page links to images on your server, it will
show up on these results. You can click on the thumbnail to view the


Another feature, offered by both Google and Lycos with their image
searches, is the ability to search by the name of the image file. To
do this, just type the filename of the image(for eg. 'water.jpg') into
the text box provided and start the search. This will only be of help
if your image has a sufficiently unique name, otherwise you will be
flooded with thousands of results.
 - Google Image Search (
:// )
 - Lycos Multimedia Search ( )


You can find a list of the various image search engines on the web
here :
         - TASI : A Review of Image Search Engines
           ( )


Hope this helps.
If you need any clarifications, just ask!


Request for Answer Clarification by dancr-ga on 21 Dec 2002 22:03 PST
Thank you for responding so quickly. Though it doesn't directly answer
my question I may eventually be interested in such a script, depending
upon how extensive the problem turns out to be. I don't know what PHP
is and have no script to speak of on my site.

Request for Answer Clarification by dancr-ga on 21 Dec 2002 22:08 PST
Theta: Thank you for responding so quickly. I tried your suggestion,
and, unless I'm missing something, Google reports only images on my
own site when I tell it to look for images 'from' my domain.

Clarification of Answer by theta-ga on 22 Dec 2002 09:49 PST
Hi dancr-ga,
    The problem with trying to hunt down bandwidth thieves using a
search engine is that you are not going to get anywhere if their
webpage is not indexed by the search engine. This is what seems to be
happening here. Apparently, the page that contains the link to your
images has not been indexed by Google. So, it does not appear in your
results. You have the following options now :
   - Search using some other engine, such as Lycos or AltaVista. You
can search on AltaVista( ) for all pages linking to
an image on a particular server, by using the following search format
     The success of this method, of course, depends on whether the
offending page has been indexed or not.
   - Wait for a few weeks, and try your search on Google again, in the
hope that it may have indexed the offenders page by then.
   - Check out the refferer URL in your web servers log.
   - Talk to your ISP and find out if they have any detection software
installed on their servers. They may be able to help you fing the


   The following articles also provide you with tips and techniques to
detect/prevent and deal with bandwidth theft :
     - Bandwidth Stealing
       by Richard Berends, Webmaster

     - Thwarting Image Theft: Fact or Fiction?
       By Jeff Howden

     - Gossamer Forum General Chit Chat Image Theft

The following articles provide various solutions you can try out to
prevent this bandwidth theft :

       - Lucid Images Wildlife Photography - Image Protection
         ( )
         Takes a pretty comprehensive look at all the options you have
for preventing image theft - commercial and free.
       - How to Protect Your Images from Bandwidth Thieves
         by Christopher Heng
         ( )
         A PHP script to prevent your images from being linked
directly from your site.

       - Preventing Image Bandwidth Theft With .htaccess 
         by Christopher Heng
         ( )
         A method for securing your images if you are using the Apache
Web server.

Also dancr-ga, tar_heel_v-ga will not be able to view your comments on
his offer for a PHP script, because you posted them as a clarification
to my answer. So, I have included a link to the relevant PHP script in
the articles given above.

Hope this helped.
If you need any clarifications, just ask!

Subject: Re: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves
From: juliaz-ga on 05 Oct 2003 21:56 PDT
This is SO CLOSE to what I'm trying to do, but it's not totally there.

I'm pretty sure that there's a way to actually KEEP people from
right-clicking on your photos and downloading them in the first place.
I guess that wouldn't keep people from linking to them and therefore,
stealing them off your site, but I've had more problems with people
copying photos to their hard drives and then emailing them or
otherwise manipulating and then distributing them. Any ideas or info?
I'm a pretty experienced HTML coder but haven't run across the code
for this. Thanks!
Subject: Re: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves
From: tytus-ga on 07 Dec 2003 08:23 PST
If you're looking for a "no right click" script keep the following in mind.

(Excerpts from Martin Webb's well-worded explanation)

"This script is *NOT* fool-proof. People can disable JavaScript
support in their browser, use a browser which doesn't support
JavaScript, or use a browser to link directly to the image that you
want to protect. Also the pages and images are normally stored in the
user's browser cache (for viewing later whilst offline) - with a
little bit of work, the thief could find your image in their cache. It
also doesn't stop users accessing the source of your page from the
toolbar menus (View | Page Source). You could attempt to load your
page into a window without toolbars - but again this isn't fool-proof.
They can access the page directly, with toolbars, instead of opening
it without them as you intended. There is a tool for Microsoft
Internet Explorer 5 that will encrypt JScript code - but this is only
supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 - and will not allow the
scripts to run on any other browser.

Bearing this in mind, the following script should stop right clicks
(and left button held down, followed by a right click) in both
Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. It will not stop
users who use a Mac - where the mouse only has one button.

If this script doesn't do what you require (i.e. protect your images
and or your scripts) then don't use it and don't put your
images/scripts on the net. If your livelihood relies on people not
copying your images - then add a water mark or "sample" stamp to your

Nevertheless, I believe this is what you're looking for:
A simple no right click script that doesn't display an alert.
Subject: Re: Using Google (or another engine) to identify bandwidth thieves
From: plumsauce-ga on 12 Aug 2004 01:53 PDT
the exact piece of information that you need is the http-referer
request header. not all browsers will send one, but eventually someone
browsing the offending page containing the hotlink will send the
header. the offending site cannot control this because it is a browser
side functionality. by viewing the request header you can identify
offending sites and file dmca complaints to their host, who is
obligated to respond if they are based in the United States. of course
all of the preceding presumes access to logs, or coding an
intercepting script that processes requests for the appropriate image
file extensions and stores the http-referer if not from your site,
before sending out the real image file.

to add to the above articles, you can also read this one:

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