back to article Photobucket says photo-f**k-it, starts off-site image shakedown

Photobucket is cracking down on people embedding on third-party websites images it hosts, until now, for free. The photo-slinging internet elder now says that anyone who wants to use its service to display photos it hosts on other pages – such as signature banners in forum posts – will now need to open up their wallets and …

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Pulling The Rug From Under People's Feet

      It works almost everywhere. It's called market inertia, meaning that just enough people really are too lazy to shop somewhere else even when they are getting screwed, making it profitable for companies to keep screwing them.

      Eventually, the consequences catch up to the business, but it's often a long time.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: Pulling The Rug From Under People's Feet

        It works almost everywhere. It's called market inertia

        More like "bait and switch"

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "It'll be interesting to watch this space

      It seems to work quite well for British banks.

      Who are all pretty s**t.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: "It'll be interesting to watch this space

        "Who are all pretty s**t."

        And who are all mostly still free to use for basic account functions...

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: "It'll be interesting to watch this space

        It seems to work quite well for British banks.

        I solved this one 25+ years ago - only use proper building or mutual societies. Yes, they can still be pathetic (Co-op, I'm looking at you) but they stand a far, far higher change of being good.

  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Meh

    no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

    seems to me that the problem is solved by doing a 'save image' to a file, then host that file yourself.

    This assumes no copyright issues, of course. but then again who really seems to care about copyright of commonly used images online any more...

    but yeah, bandwidth theft is kinda bad. Wanting $400/year? Not much better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

      Most forums--and a lot of other consumer focused sites--don't give users the ability to upload images. Just look at El Reg, for example.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

        Or text for that matter.

        You only have to criticise the author and you're likely to be censored here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

          I criticise Andrew for being a copyright industry stooge all the time, and never get censored.

          1. moiety

            Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

            I got censored for the following...

            ------8<----------------------------------------------------------------------

            "Fighting copyright today requires a persecution complex, because concrete examples of real oppression are fleeting and trivial. The unfairness of copyright must therefore be imagined.

            This is almost Trump-esque in it's "I'll throw so much steaming bullshit into one sentence that people won't even know where to start refuting it" style"

            ------8<----------------------------------------------------------------------

            ...once. If it hadn't been censored, I probably would have forgotten all about it by now. As it was censored, and that irked me a bit at the time, I feel it's my duty to mention it at appropriate intervals, just to be annoying.

            1. robidy

              Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

              Will this become to the register what a man in a string vest is to Private Eye? Should we all quote it when we are devoid of interesting reader comments?

      2. I am the liquor

        Re: no more bandwidth theft. just host it yourself!

        "Most forums--and a lot of other consumer focused sites--don't give users the ability to upload images."

        That's the real shame of this, isn't it. All those useful tutorials and product reviews that people have posted on forums, going back years, now all broken.

        We can start using another image host but it won't fix all that old content; and how long before the new image host does the same, or goes out of business?

        It's much safer when forums allow direct upload of images, but funding the bandwidth and storage for that can't be easy when so many are hobby projects.

  2. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Hopefully they won't just 404 the externally hosted pics but instead replace them with one that says 'click here to view the image' and it then takes the user through to view it on the Photobucket website then there won't be any loss of potentially useful images.

    But where did they pick $400 per year from? Even if there weren't free alternatives and you were willing to pay. You can still save money by getting storage with a hosting provider and then paying someone of Fiver to go through all the photos on your blog and upload them to your new hosting. You also won't have to worry about breaching the Photobucket T&Cs on things such as nudity going down that route either.

    1. moiety

      Probably going to serve ads instead of 404s.

    2. alexmcm

      Or do what they did

      I remember a photo site that replaced the original image with a picture of a large bosomed topless old drunk women sitting on a park bench. I first saw it on a rather formal forum and had to alert the user that their post now showed said picture instead of what she meant it to show.

      Certainly worked, she had changed her old post in an hour.

      1. Jason 24

        Re: Or do what they did

        Something we did fairly regularly when I worked at a hosting provider, you find someone has hot linked to an image off one of your servers and suddenly bandwidth goes up dramatically to a particular site.

        Unfortunately that was a professional setting on family friendly web shops so no chance of putting anything rude up, just a new image with the words "image thief" on them usually.

    3. I am the liquor

      They serve an image that says "please update your account to enable 3rd party hosting" and refers to the URL www.photobucket.com/P500.

      Random example found through google:

      http://forums.watchuseek.com/f43/how-place-picture-photobucket-into-forums-28301.html

  3. Terry 6 Silver badge

    $400 a year

    OK maybe free was never going to last forever, even ad suported. But as a space to store and serve up a few jpg files $400 every year is a vast amount of money. And for pro use, why would you when you can get a bit of web space for a fraction of the cost?

    This is a actually not about charging - that's just a cover. It's about stopping it.

  4. J J Carter Silver badge
    FAIL

    So?

    Gave up on Photobucket when they started playing silly-beggars over ad blocking.

  5. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

    Gave up on them a couple of years back. They used to have a tool that let you see who was linking to your images and which images were the most popular. Then they "upgraded" to support ... I dunno, sepia tones or something. And killed the tool. Simultaneously it became suspiciously easy to run out of free bandwidth.

    Swapped over to using OneDrive and have never looked back, until today. Just to crown things, one of their ads tried to serve me some malware when I logged in to delete my account.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Swapped over to using OneDrive

      You might like to google "Frying Pan" & "Fire"

      1. GrumpyKiwi Silver badge

        Re: Swapped over to using OneDrive

        Microsoft already had their Photobucket level of Derp incident about two years back when they decided arbitrarily that "no-one could possibly want a link that lasted more than 24 hours" which meant that any new links would rapidly die. There was a fair amount of outcry about it and six months later they introduced an embedding option within OneDrive.

  6. Doctor_Wibble
    Boffin

    Billing via log files, surely?

    Surely they can do some kind of tiered billing by processing the logfiles to see who the big users are and then bill accordingly? Maybe even keep it free for the small-scale users, and the ones using it to host popular hi-res stuff probably knew this day was coming anyway. The suggestion earlier for 'click to view' would make sense, even if accompanied by a (preferably non-rage-inducing) ad banner.

    I'm tempted to blame the advertisers, for making their ads so effing obnoxious and stalkingly pervasive that a sufficiently large number of people blocked them.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Billing via log files, surely?

      "I'm tempted to blame the advertisers, for making their ads so effing obnoxious and stalkingly pervasive that a sufficiently large number of people blocked them."

      Don't just be tempted to blame them-- do it! You'd be 100% right.

      If web ads were the equivalent of print ads in specialty magazines (computers, cars, etc.), it would be a whole different situation. I used to buy those magazines in part FOR the ads; I wanted to know what products related to my interest were available, from whom, and for how much money. Those ads never flashed, moved, made noise, attempted to track me as I read other magazines, delivered malware, forced me to interact with them in order to see the content, or anything like that. They also never made it take three times longer than it usually would to turn the page and begin reading an article. And on top of all that, they were more relevant than any "targeted" ad ever has been for me... it was targeted at people who are interested enough in topic X to read Topic X Digest, and that actually worked.

      There are a few sites that I whitelist in my adblocker. My requirements are that ads have to be unobtrusive, silent, non-animated, non-interactive (if I inadvertently mouse over one, it had better not do anything) and relatively lightweight, and free of the worst offenders when it comes to tracking (even if I can still stop that with NoScript, which I never turn off for anyone. Sorry, I am not about to leave my front door unlocked when I am in a high-crime neighborhood, and the web is exactly that).

      A site that connects to 30 or more third party domains for analytics and ad serving is not going to get whitelisted, no matter how nicely they ask, but I am always willing to keep monitoring the situation and consider adding them if they maybe drop it to one or two ad domains and adhere to all the other requirements here. First sign of an animated, reactive, or noisy ad, though, and it's back on the block list for you. If your business model depends on serving people nasty, obtrusive, spying ads, you have a problem.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Billing via log files, surely?

        The print advertisers did try some annoying things.... Making their advert smaller and stiffer so the magazine would always open there or even putting perfume in.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If this move causes some of the me-me-me humble-bragging bloggers to just stop then I'm all for it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me..

    I have a small system on which I collect and sort images from unsplash.com. Not that they're not wonderful over there, but downloading the ones I like means I can add tags to them so quickly find the image I need. I need to move those images behind a password or I'll end up blowing my bandwidth if people start hotlinking..

    1. moiety

      Re: That reminds me..

      I love it when people hotlink:

      1. Change name of image on your site

      2. In place of the original, put another image with the same name and path. Same size for best results. The replacement image should be something to thoroughly infuriate the hotlinker...gay/furry/whatever porn is usually good. Opposing political viewpoint. And there's always image editing for custom abuse.

      Not only do you get to exercise your inner bastard, but they're stealing your bandwidth, so you can feel all righteous about it too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That reminds me..

        All suggestions worthy of this site :).

        I'm just changing the rights - the problem with feeding dodgy images means you have to host them first although it's always an idea to set up a marketing image instead (must check later if there is a way to point all the hotlinks to one image, though, I guess that may hide in the .htaccess features). Also, it's just a simple Piwigo box that I set up somewhere so it doesn't have much in the way of access control or logging, it's far too basic for that.

        When I find time to spin up a Joomla site I'll add some sophistication and BOFH trapdoors, but for the moment this is good enough - thanks for the idea, though :)

        1. moiety

          Re: That reminds me..

          Well remember that you may be hosting the images, but it's the other guy that's publishing them It makes a difference. If you're after one-size-fits-all though, images might not be the way to go. .htaccess to open an iFrame/div/table containing text would probably be better (and use less bandwidth, if that's a concern)....with images your one image is going to get squashed to the proportions of your various hotlinked images, so it won't look very good most of the time.

          Ironically, it's often people who have a moral agenda who nick your stuff. Which makes it all the more rewarding when you goatse them.

          1. Doctor_Wibble
            Alert

            Re: That reminds me..

            > Which makes it all the more rewarding when you xxxxxx them.

            (sorry, not wanting to add to the word's popularity score)

            The problem with that policy is you end up punishing the wrong people, not the person who is actually guilty.

            I understand the sentiment but with reference to my burned retinas* I ask people to consider something, anything, else that does not inflict damage on the non-guilty parties!

            .

            * I'm reasonably sure this does not classify me as a pathetic snowflake, I did after all survive the emergency mind-bleach immediately afterwards

            1. moiety

              Re: That reminds me..

              Ah, but the person who is actually guilty gets moaned at. That's crowdsourcing, that is.

              There are more subtle options, of course.

      2. I am the liquor

        Re: That reminds me..

        You may not even need to rename the image on your site. On Apache you can set up .htacess rules to serve a different image depending on the referrer domain.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lolwut

    Who even does this? It's not 1998. Just use social media or get a cheap site host.

    Freetards on fucking photobucket

    I heard Friendster is awesome

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Lolwut

      You can spot the people who didn't read the article and/or the comments.

      The point is they're applying this retroactively... people have posts hosted on forums from years ago, and photobucket said 'look, we're a giant bucket to get photos from' [the clue's in the name]. Now they've turned to ransomware.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lolwut

        > people have posts hosted on forums from years ago,

        So a post from 2002 will say some shit about Photobucket 3rd party linking. You're seriously suggesting anyone gives a shit... even a post from a week ago is old news

        1. keithpeter
          Coat

          Re: Lolwut

          "So a post from 2002 will say some shit about Photobucket 3rd party linking. You're seriously suggesting anyone gives a shit... even a post from a week ago is old news"

          It is that long-tail thing again isn't it? 99% of posts have a shelf-life of minutes to days, and 99% of interweb fora are instantly forgettable. But there are some special interest fora with considerable history, and within those, there are some threads that have lasted for a long span of time and that contain much useful information. Those will be significantly degraded.

          1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

            Re: Lolwut

            "So a post from 2002 will say some shit about Photobucket 3rd party linking. You're seriously suggesting anyone gives a shit... even a post from a week ago is old news"

            A post from a week ago may be old news in your circumscribed universe, but to those of us who *think*, perhaps we have other uses? Y'know, reference or something? Have you ever heard of the concept of a reference library?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Lolwut

              "A post from a week ago may be old news in your circumscribed universe, but to those of us who *think*, perhaps we have other uses? Y'know, reference or something? Have you ever heard of the concept of a reference library?"

              To be fair, he did only say 99% of posts. That probably accounts for all the FB and Twatter stuff leaving, at best, 1% of posts that might have a longer term use. The signal to noise ratio across the whole of the 'net is pretty poor.

            2. wayne 8

              Re: Lolwut

              Say Photobucket goes tits up. Then what do the hot linkers do then?

              If you are preserving for posterity, don't depend on a third party.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lolwut

              ...and if I ever posted an image that was important, I never hosted it on some free image hosting site

            4. earl grey Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Lolwut

              "in your circumscribed universe"

              Sorry, i read that as circumcised and didn't understand what all the snipping was about.

              Maybe she knows.

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Meh

    Well that was news

    I'd completely forgotten photobucket even existed.

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    $400 per year

    I wonder if it would not be cheaper to have a Wordpress site with a copy of the images. Granted more work and bit of a pain but you have more direct control of the site.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: $400 per year

      Or just that free ISP web space that almost no one ever uses.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: $400 per year

        "Or just that free ISP web space that almost no one ever uses."

        I did that for years from my Blueyonder webspace account. But a year or so back, VirginMedia decided free webspace was no longer part of the contract. Is webspace still free with most ISPs or is that just seen as an unneeded cost by the ISPs these days?

        1. Trilkhai

          Re: $400 per year

          From what I've been seeing while hunting for a new provider, the bigger & more popular they are, the less likely they are to offer any "old-school" amenities, including webspace. Some of the medium-sized ones like Sonic.net now seem to take the "you have to know it's there & search in order to find it" approach, either because they're phasing it out or to avoid confusing the non-technical types.

          1. moiety

            Re: $400 per year

            I wonder if it would not be cheaper to have a Wordpress site with a copy of the images.

            Why bother with wordpress? If you're just wanting a bank of images that you can throw into forum posts, just upload them into a directory. Make sure the directory has a blank index.html file in there so it can't be indexed and you're good to go.

            If you own a domain called domain.com, just make yourself a subdirectory called, say, grafix (don't use images...there's LOADS of things that have an /images/ directory) and just throw all your piccies in there with FTP. Then the path to a particular image would be:

            http://domain.com/grafix/image.jpg

            -----------------------------

            ISP freebies are best avoided anyway. You're probably going to move at some point and using the freebies can make that a nightmare. Especially email. Skip past the ISP entirely for your web empire and that way you don't have loads of work to do to extract yourself and -probably more importantly- no interruptions to service if your old/new ISP fucks things up. You'll still be in the game, even if you become resident in the local coffee shop or have to be nice to your neighbours.

        2. Kincaid

          Re: $400 per year

          Agreed. Free web storage from an ISP is something I actually don't hear of anymore. Some might but I haven't seen it in ages. Just like ISPs actually running their own USENET servers. Between costs and legal reasons it's simply easier for them to not run the servers. Let the customers get the service from a third-party.

          Another thing to consider with respect to using your own ISP web storage for images which might be linked to forums, etc, there's the area of privacy and some anonymity rather than leading someone who reads a forum right to your front door. Using a third-party location to store those images works out more nicely, IMO. But, Photobucket would never have been one of the sites that I used.

          1. moiety

            Re: $400 per year

            Any forums that allow images, I always assume you have no privacy anyway. It's simple to embed a 1x1-pixel transparent tracker gif. By matching up the server logs for the server hosting the gif with posting times it's fairly trivial to extract IP addresses for forum members over time.

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