How To Prevent Content Hotlinking

Learn how to prevent unauthorized users from hotlinking to content hosted on your website. 

How To Prevent Content Hotlinking

Learn what hotlinking is and how to prevent unauthorized users from hotlinking to content hosted on your website. 

Prevent Hotlinking - Anonymous userHotlinking is when someone links directly to assets on your website, such as images, videos, or downloadable documents.

In this lesson, we cover the following:

  • Why Hotlinking Can Hurt your Business
  • Hotlinking Examples
  • Ways To Prevent Hotlinking
  • How To Prevent Image Hotlinking On AWS

Why Hotlinking Can Hurt Your Business

Hosting a website uses server resources to store your files and serve your content over the internet.

Disk space is the amount of data you can store on your web server.

Bandwidth is the amount of data your host allows you to transfer to and from your web server each month.

When someone embeds content from your site into their site using the direct file URL to your content, they are effectively stealing bandwidth, generating unnecessary traffic hits on your website, and consuming your hosting resources.


Publishing media-rich content increases the size of your web pages and requires more bandwidth to serve your files, images, etc. over the internet.

As a result of improved broadband speeds, websites are publishing more media-rich content and so web pages are getting larger every year.

According to research, the average web page is now around 1.5 MB. You can check the size of your web pages using a tool like Pingdom.

Pingdom Website Speed Test
Use a tool like Pingdom to check the size of your web pages.

So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that the average web page on your website is 2MB. If you have 1 GB of disk space, you can host 500 pages.

More importantly, serving your web pages over the internet will use up bandwidth. How much bandwidth your site uses depends on factors like the average size of your web pages, the number of visitors to your website, how many pages they, whether users can download files from your site, etc.

Although many hosting plans nowadays typically include generous amounts of disk space and bandwidth (which reduces the cost of using server resources), hotlinking to content on another site without the content owner’s permission can range from being considered a “rude” practice, to copyright infringement, to downright content theft that can seriously hurt a business.

The bottom line is that a website uses server disk space and bandwidth and this costs money. So, if you host an image or a video on your website and other people link to it from their website, then every time someone accesses that file on their website, your business is paying for it.


If you experience a surge of traffic on your website, check your stats and server logs…someone may be hotlinking to content on your site.

Hotlinking Examples

Consider this…

In the Content Protection lesson, we talked about copyright and referenced the US Copyright Office’s Copyright Basics Guide in the content.

Screenshot of Copyright Basics Guide
The Copyright Basics Guide can be viewed on The United States Copyright Office website by clicking on this link. Click on the image to view an enlarged version of the image.

Clicking on the link above takes you directly to the PDF guide hosted on the US Copyright Office’s server, hence we are “hotlinking” to that file from this site.

The advantage of linking to the above resource, (which the US Copyright Office is hosting on their server), is that visitors clicking through to it from this site will see the latest version of the guide whenever updates are made to the document, whereas if we were to host the document, it would quickly become outdated, as we have no control over its content, nor the time or the resources to make sure that our hosted file is the latest and most up-to-date version of the document.

One of the disadvantages of linking directly to content hosted on other servers is that if the content owner removes their content, renames the link URL, transfers it to another location, or blocks the content from being accessed entirely (e.g. to prevent hotlinking), you end up with a bad link and poor user experience.

Let’s use another example…

When we looked at content protection tools, we included this video from Copyscape:

Although the above video was sourced from Copyscape’s website, it is actually hosted on YouTube.

So, we are “hotlinking” to YouTube’s servers. This is perfectly acceptable, however, as YouTube encourages people to embed and share videos hosted on their servers (and gives them the option of allowing or disallowing others from embedding or sharing their videos).

“Hotlinking” to the above video, then, isn’t costing the business disk space or bandwith, as YouTube is paying for it.

Now…let’s bring this discussion back to your business.

Suppose one of your web pages includes a bunch of images or a video. If someone copies and pastes the content from your web page on their site,  those images will be loaded from your website, which uses up your bandwidth, costing your business money.

This might be ok in some instances. For example, your business may want other sites to link to a downloadable resource that you regularly need to update (e.g. a PDF product catalog) or affiliate banner images.

If your business is not happy to pay for the cost of other people linking to your content from their site, however, then you need to look at ways to prevent hotlinking.

Ways To Prevent Hotlinking

When creating content for your website, it’s important to show the same consideration for other website owners as you would like them to show you and avoid hotlinking to assets hosted on other websites.

The simplest way is to host the assets on your own server. If you find an image on another website that you would like to use on your own website, upload the image to your server (or a file storage solution) and deliver it from there (make sure that you have permission to use the asset or the asset is part of a creative commons license, and give proper credit or attribution).

This also increases the asset’s delivery speed as the user’s browser won’t need to perform an additional DNS lookup.

Unfortunately, you have no control over whether other websites will show you the same consideration, so let’s look at solutions you can implement to help avoid or prevent hotlinking.

Prevent Hotlinking By Renaming Your Files

One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent hotlinking is to simply rename your files or change the URL of your content (e.g. image).

This method is not recommended, however, as it could lead to pages on your own site having broken links if they link to the content.

If you do decide to use this method, however, then make sure to run a global search and replace on the URL, or use link management tools to redirect changed links.

Prevent Hotlinking With Plugins (WordPress Sites)

If your site is built using WordPress, there are WordPress plugins available to help prevent hotlinking.

For example, if you use WordPress and host videos on Amazon S3, you can manage and protect your content from unauthorized sharing or downloads using a plugin like S3 Media Maestro.

S3 Media Maestro
S3 Media Maestro protects your S3-hosted videos from being shared or downloaded without your permission.

Prevent Hotlinking By Editing your .htaccess File

Editing your .htaccess file can help to prevent the hotlinking of images on your website but it requires knowing how to edit files on your server.

For this reason, we recommend letting your webmaster, web developer, or web host handle this for you.

In some cases, you can use the .htaccess file to replace hotlinked images with an offensive image. This can help to deter other websites from hotlinking to your site.

Enable CDN Hotlinking Protection

Does your website use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)? If so, check their documentation. Many CDN services provide built-in hotlinking protection.

Restrict Hotlinking By Blocking Domains

Web hosting management applications like cPanel provides security tools with hotlink protection features that allow you to block specific domains from using your content.

cPanel Dashboard: Security tools - Hotlink Protection.
Webhosting management tools like cPanel provide Hotlink Protection security features.

If you have access to your hosting control panel, you can use this method to protect your website from hotlinking to content hosted on your own server.

Simply enable the feature and list all the URLs that are allowed to access your content. Make sure to include http://, http://www., https://, and https://www. versions of your domain.

Prevent hotlinking with cPanel - Hotlink Protection screen.
Enable hotlink protection and add a list of URLs that are allowed to access your content.

If you don’t have access to your web server management tools, then ask your webmaster (or web developer), or web host to configure these settings for you.

File A DMCA Notice

If you discover that a website is hotlinking to your content without your permission or license and this creates a serious issue for your business, you can try asking them to remove the content from their website.

If they ignore or refuse your requests to remove the hotlinks to your content, then you can try filing for DMCA protection against the offending website.

How To Prevent Image Hotlinking On AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) like Amazon S3 provide a cost-effective, scalable, and secure way to store and protect data remotely.

You can host images, videos, and downloadable files on Amazon S3’s cloud servers (instead of hosting them on your own server) and add the files to your website, so users can view or access the content.

If you use Amazon AWS to host content remotely, the tutorial below will show you how to protect your assets from hotlinking by creating a special file called an S3 Bucket Policy containing special code that will prevent the unauthorized use of images (or videos, downloadable PDFs, etc.) on your website.

First, we will show you how to use a free tool provided by Amazon called the AWS Policy Generator to create policies that control access to Amazon Web Services (AWS) products and resources, then we will show you how to upload this policy to the folder (called a bucket) where your images and other media are stored.

Step 1 – Create An S3 Bucket Policy

Go to the AWS Policy Generator page. You don’t have to be logged into your AWS account to access this tool.

AWS Policy Generator screen.
Prevent content hotlinking with the AWS Policy Generator.

In the AWS Policy Generator screen, go to the “Step 1: Select Policy Type” section, and select S3 Bucket Policy from the “Select Type of Policy” drop-down menu.

AWS Policy Generator - Select Type of Policy
Select S3 Bucket Policy from the drop-down menu,

For this policy, we want to deny access to our website images to any site other than our website (or the sites that we specifically nominate), so select Effect > Deny.

AWS Policy Generator - Add Statement(s) - Effect
Choose Deny in the Effect option.

In the Principal field, type an asterisk (*)

AWS Policy Generator - Add Statement(s) - Principal field
Type an asterisk into the Principal field.

From the Actions drop-down menu, select GetObject.

AWS Policy Generator - Add Statement(s) - Actions
Select GetObject in the Actions drop-down menu.

For the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) field, we need to enter the location of the bucket where we want to apply the policy.

For this example, we want to block access to all media stored in the bucket, so the string of text we will enter into this field must be in the following format (replace [BUCKETNAME] with your bucket’s name):


To view the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) of your bucket, log into your AWS account, then select Storage > S3.

AWS account screen with S3 option highlighted.
Select Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3) from your AWS account screen.

Select the bucket whose content you want to protect and click on the Copy ARN button to copy the Amazon Resource Name to your clipboard.

AWS account: S3 Buckets screen
Select your bucket and click on Copy ARN.

Alternatively, you can click on the bucket name, then select the Properties tab. You should see the ARN displayed on the screen, as shown in the screenshot below.

Amazon S3 Bucket Properties tab.
You can also find your ARN in the Bucket Properties tab.

Copy and paste this ARN into the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) field and make sure to end a forward slash + asterisk (/*) at the end (see screenshot below)

AWS Policy Generator - Amazon Resource Name (ARN)
Paste your ARN into the Amazon Resource Name (ARN) field.

Next, click on the Add Conditions (Optional) link.

AWS Policy Generator - Add Conditions (Optional)
Click on the Add Conditions (Optional) link.

Do the following in this section:

  • Condition – Select StringNotLike from the drop-down menu.
  • Key – Select aws:Referer from the drop-down menu.
  • Value – In this field, enter the URL of the domain(s) you want to protect.
    • If giving access to a single domain only, enter both the “https://domain.tld” and “https://www.domain.tld” values, separated by a comma.
    • If giving access to multiple domains, repeat the same process as above for all the domains you wish to include in your Bucket Policy.

Click the Add Condition button when done.

AWS Policy Generator - Add Conditions (Optional) with options selected.
Fill in the fields as shown here and click on the Add Condition button.

The policy generator tool will display the Condition you have just added on the screen.

Note: If you want to add more domains to the policy, just enter these into the Value field and click the Add Condition button.

Next, click the Add Statement button.

AWS Policy Generator - Add Conditions (Optional) with Condition added.
After adding the Condition click on the Add Statement button.

The policy generator tool will display the Statement you have just added on the screen.

Click the Generate Policy button.

AWS Policy Generator - Step 3 Generate Policy ith button highlighted.
After adding the Statement click on the Generate Policy button.

The tool will generate the snippet of code you will need to add to your Bucket Policy field.

Select and copy all the content generated by the tool to your clipboard.

S3 Bucket Policy example.
Select and copy your S3 Bucket Policy text to your clipboard.

Step 2 – Add The Bucket Policy Code To Your Bucket

Return to your AWS dashboard and paste the content from your clipboard into the Bucket policy text area (in the Bucket’s Permissions tab).

Prevent hotlinking. Amazon S3 account area - Bucket policy text area.
Paste the contents of your clipboard into the Bucket policy text area.

If you use a tool like S3 Browser (a freeware Windows client for Amazon S3), you don’t even need to log into your Amazon AWS account.

Just open your S3 Browser tool, and select the bucket from the list…

Prevent hotlinking. S3 Browser screen with bucket selected.
Select your bucket in S3 Browser.

Right-click on the bucket name and select Edit Bucket Policy.

Prevent hotlinking with S3 Borwser - Edit Bucket Policy
Right-click and select Edit Bucket Policy…

Paste the bucket policy you created into the text area and click the Apply button.

Prevent hotlinking with S3 Browser - Bucket Policy Editor
Paste the content into S3 Browser’s Bucket Policy Editor.

After adding the policy to the bucket containing your site’s images, here’s how to test things to make sure that everything is working:

Go to your website, then select a section of your content on a page that contains images and copy the content to your clipboard.

Sample of content selected for copying
Test your policy by selecting content from your protected site and make sure to include images.

You will need access to a website on another domain (or ask someone with a website on another domain to help you).

Create a new article or blog post and paste the content you have copied from your website into the new site.

If you have generated and added the policy to your site correctly, no images should show up on the content pasted into the unauthorized domain.

Prevent hotlinking of content pasted on an unauthorized site with hotlink protected images.
Success…our hotlink-protected images are blocked from displaying on unauthorized sites!

An even simpler way to test things (especially if you can test things on a different domain name) is to simply copy the image address from your website and paste it into your web browser.

This should display an error message like the example shown below, instead of the image.

Prevent hotlinking. Access denied error message.
This is what users will see on their web browsers if they copy your hotlink-protected content.

Congratulations! Now you know how to prevent image hotlinking on your website if you use Amazon’s S3 service to store your website’s media.

Animated image showing content hosted on Amazon S3 with hotlinking-protection.
Protect your content hosted on Amazon S3 from being hotlinked with an S3 Bucket policy.

For more information, see this lesson: Using Amazon S3


Hotlinking can range anywhere from being considered a “rude” practice, to copyright infringement, to content theft that can hurt a business.

We have listed several ways to prevent other sites from hotlinking to your content.

Action Steps

If hotlinking becomes an issue for your business, consider implementing one or more of the hotlinking prevention methods presented in this lesson.



Next Lesson


Image: Anonymous User

Content Protection

Learn how content theft can affect your business and how to prevent your website content from being stolen…

Content Protection

Learn how content theft can affect your business and how to prevent your website content from being stolen…

Content theft is an unfortunate reality of having an online presence.

If your website has unique and valuable content, your content may end up being “borrowed” by your competitors without giving you credit or attribution, or just plain “stolen” for various reasons.

Knowing what you can and can’t do to protect your content from being stolen and implementing effective ways to prevent content theft from happening is a challenge but also an important aspect of good content management.

In this lesson, we cover the following:

  • How Content Theft Can Affect Your Business
  • Content Scraping: What Is It?
  • Protecting Your Content – Your Rights
  • Preventing Content Theft – Options

How Content Theft Can Affect Your Business

Content theft is a serious problem.

If your website has original, high-quality articles, tutorials, reviews, images or well-written information describing your products or services, this not only makes your content unique and valuable to your site visitors and potential customers, it also makes it appealing to your competitors and to people with nefarious motives.

It is relatively easy to steal content from most websites. You can simply copy and paste the content, right-click to download and save images or other media, take screenshots, etc.

It can be very frustrating to invest a great deal of time, effort, money, and resources and then have worked so hard to create unique and valuable content and then have this stolen from you by a content scraper and used on another website.

Content Scraping – What Is It?

Content scraping (also called web scraping or website scraping) is where some or all of the content of a website is downloaded or copied by another party (usually by automated web scraping bots or tools), often against the website owner’s wishes, and usually done to repurpose the “stolen” content on another site for malicious purposes (e.g. phishing) or to create filler content on spammy sites for SEO (e.g. to attract users for AdSense clicks).

Although not all content scraping is bad (e.g. think of affiliates using your content to market your products and services), malicious web scraping is a parasitic practice that can affect your business negatively in many ways.

For example, content theft violates your copyrights, steals your organic traffic, and can take up valuable server resources and cost you money (e.g. image hotlinking, which we discuss further below).

Although anyone savvy enough can manually go through and copy and paste the entire contents of a website, website scraper bots can download all of your website’s content in seconds, even if you run a large site such as an e-commerce store with hundreds or thousands of product pages. Some bots can also access and scrape gated content by filling in and submitting forms automatically. An example of this is data or price scraping where scraper bots target the pricing information of competing businesses to undercut their rivals and increase their own sales

While there are tools and methods you can use to throw a few hurdles at content scrapers and scraper bots (we’ll touch on some of these later), there are also websites that teach users how to bypass content scraping tools and methods.

Since anything posted publicly on the Internet can be scraped, including text, images, code, etc., there is really not that much you can do to protect publicly-posted content (other than to not make it public in the first place).

So, how do you protect your website content?

Well, first let’s take a look at what rights content owners have, and then we’ll look at some options for preventing content theft.

Protecting Your Content – Your Rights


Copyright ownership gives you the exclusive right to use your work, with some exceptions. When you create an original work, fixed in a tangible medium, you automatically own the copyright to the work.

Note: With content writing, “who owns the copyright” to content can be confusing and can lead to disagreements.

For example:

  • Generally, freelance writers own the copyright to their work unless their contract or agreement stipulates that they must transfer the copyright to another person or business.
  • Employees don’t own the copyright to the work they create, their employers do.
  • Journalists employed by a newspaper or publisher are an exception (while their employer owns the copyright in their articles as published, the journalist retains the copyright in their work for other specified purposes, such as reproduction in a book).
  • Another exception is fair use copyright in countries where certain types of uses of your content may be considered fair (e.g. criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research).
  • Sometimes, rights to use the work are implied even if agreements to transfer the rights were not signed, except when used for purposes that the content creator did not agree or consent to.

Regarding issues of copyright, always seek advice if you are unsure.

Additionally, even though in accordance with U.S. and European Union laws the original work is automatically copyrighted from the moment of creation and you do not need to display a public copyright notice (“© All rights reserved”) on your website, it’s a good idea to include it (since laws differ in different countries) and to also consider filing a copyright registration to protect your web content if you think your content merits protection.

Registering a copyright with The United States Copyright Office creates a public record of ownership which is stored with the Library of Congress. This can be useful if you ever need to file an infringement lawsuit in court. Note, however, that new content is not automatically added to the copyright registration (a new registration must be filed to indicate that it covers the new materials).

You can file for a copyright registration for your website’s content (original text or images) with The U.S. Copyright Office eCO online system. Refer to the United States Copyright Office Copyright Basics Guide for more information.

The following additional resources will also help to protect your content and intellectual property:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons
A Creative Commons license allows certain uses of your content under conditions that you choose.

To understand Creative Commons it helps to understand how Copyright works.

As stated earlier, when you create something original, fixed in a tangible medium, like a photograph, a song, story, or even articles for your website, you automatically own the copyright to the product of your creativity.

This automatic copyright is known as an “All Rights Reserved” copyright. It protects your creativity against uses that you don’t consent to, such as people or other businesses taking, using, and potentially making money off your work.

In some cases, however, an “All Rights Reserved” copyright may be too restrictive. You may want others to use, share, or build upon certain aspects of your work, as this could have benefits for your business (e.g. increased exposure and promotion by allowing others to share and distribute your content) or your industry, or a particular group or community.

This is where Creative Commons licensing comes in.

“Creative Commons licenses give everyone from individual creators to large institutions a standardized way to grant the public permission to use their creative work under copyright law.”

Source: Creative Commons

So, whereas copyright is an “all rights reserved” option in which you hold all rights, a Creative Commons license offers a “some rights reserved” option, allowing for certain uses of your work to occur under specific conditions of your choice.

There are six different Creative Commons license options, ranging from the most to least permissive, where you can give the public permission to share and use your work provided they agree to your conditions. For example, you may allow companies to share your content but not sell it, or re-publish your articles for commercial purposes if they provide credit and attribution, etc.

Creative Commons, then, is not about giving up or replacing copyright (you still own your work), it’s about introducing a more flexible way to manage the rights embodied in copyright by giving you choices about what others can and can’t do with your content.

As mentioned earlier, there are pros to using Creative Commons licenses, such as increased exposure and publicity for your business through the sharing and redistribution of your content. Additionally, Creative Commons licenses are non-exclusive, so you can license the same content under different agreements.

Some of the cons to using Creative Commons licenses is that with almost all of the licenses, you can’t be sure who is using your work or making money from it, and others can use your content without compensating you for the use.

Adding a Creative Commons license to your website is fast, easy, and free. Just visit the website, answer a few questions (e.g. will you allow your work to be used commercially or modified?), and the right type of license will be issued, along with all the elements you need to display it on your site.

Creative Commons license generator.
Use the license generator to determine which Creative Commons license is right for you.

Visit the website: Creative Commons

Now, all this is well and good if you are ok about others using your content, and/or they respect your intellectual property rights.

But, what if others are using your content without permission or attribution? What can you do?

Well, the first step is to find out who is using your content.

Content Detection Tools

The tools below can help you identify sites that are using your content with or without your permission.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts
Monitor the web for scraped content about your business with Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a free service from Google that lets you keep up-to-date with the latest news about all kinds of topics, stay informed about people and companies, and track what other people are publishing about you and your business online.

This is a useful tool if you have content with unique brand names or keywords. Whereas Google search can help you uncover sites using your unique words in their content, Google Alerts is always monitoring for new content and will instantly notify you as soon as it detects that your content containing those words has been used.

If you need help setting up Google Alerts, see this tutorial: How To Set Up Google Alerts


Copyscape helps to protect your website from online plagiarism.

Copyscape helps to protect your website, online publications, blog, marketing materials, or any other online content against plagiarism. Simply enter the URL of a page on your site and the free plagiarism checker will look for any copies of your web pages online.

The animated explainer video below provides an overview of the tool:

The premium service automatically scans and monitors the Web for copies of your content and notifies you if it detects any plagiarized content. This is also a useful tool if you plan to outsource your content writing or purchase content from freelance writers, as it allows you to check if the content has been previously sold to others or published elsewhere on the web.

Visit the website: Copyscape


Unicheck is a plagiarism checking software. While it is primarily used to detect plagiarism in academic writing, it can help you find instances where others have used your content without attribution.

Visit the website: Unicheck

Grammarly Plagiarism Checker

Grammarly Plagiarism Checker
Grammarly Plagiarism Checker

Grammarly Plagiarism Checker is another useful plagiarism checking tool.

Use this tool not only to search for content that may have been copied from your website but also to ensure that your content writers are creating fresh and original content that is also free of plagiarism.

Visit the site: Grammarly Plagiarism Checker


Use TinEye to do a reverse image search and see if anyone else is using your images.

TinEye is a reverse image search engine that checks if anyone else is using your images (even modified versions).

TinEye search results
Use TinEye to locate all the sites that are using your images.

TinEye also offers a premium service that automatically checks all the locations where your images appear online.

Visit the website: TinEye


DMCA can help you file takedown requests if you find content that violates your rights.

DMCA is an online service that assists you with getting stolen or plagiarized content removed from sites infringing on your copyright in accordance with The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a U.S. law that criminalizes digital plagiarism.

This service assists you with filing DMCA takedown requests if you find content that violates your rights, as DMCA requires hosting providers to remove content that infringes on intellectual property rights.


Filing a DMCA complaint should be used only as a last resort in situations where the violation can seriously impact your business, as the process of filing a complaint can involve a significant amount of time and effort. For this reason, if you find that your content has been stolen and published on a scammy or spammy site that isn’t ranking high on the search engines, it will probably have very little effect on your website and you can probably just ignore it (or use one of these hotlinking prevention methods if the stolen content includes media files like images, videos, or downloadable files hosted on your site or remotely).

If, however, the violation is significant and/or has taken place on a site that has high visibility, authority, or ranking, then follow the steps below to file a take-down notice.

Filing a DMCA Complaint After Content Theft

Many sites that allow users to upload their own content and web hosts have a DMCA form that you can fill in if you believe there has been a copyright infringement of your content.

For example, Automattic (the company behind WordPress) has a  DMCA form that you can fill out and submit on their website.

Automattic - Copyright Policy
Automattic’s DMCA’s form submission page.

Many web hosting companies also provide their own forms and processes for submitting claims, as they are legally required to remove content that infringes on intellectual property rights if served with a DMCA notice.

Liquid Web - Copyright Infringement Policy
Liquid Web’s Copyright Infringement Policy. Source: LiquidWeb

As stated earlier, filing a DMCA complaint can be a fairly lengthy and laborious process, so only do this if you feel it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

Before filing a complaint, make sure that you:

  • Have sent the website owners or webmaster a polite message asking them to remove your copyrighted material.
  • Understand fair use copyright to avoid filing wrongful DMCA claims.
  • Have records of instances of copyright infringement and proof of content theft (e.g. screenshots).
  • Can provide all the information required to avoid delays.

Once you have done the above, follow the steps below to file a DMCA claim:

  1. Who is hosting the plagiarized content? Locate and record the IP address of the offending website using these domain tools and then input the IP address into the American Registry for Internet Numbers to find the hosting company.
  2. Create your DMCA complaint. Your complaint must include information like identification of the copyrighted work and the original material and a physical or electronic signature. If you need proof of infringement, use the Internet Archive to show that the content was published on your site prior to appearing on the offender’s site. If your site is built using WordPress, you can use a plugin like WordProof to show that your content was published before anyone else using blockchain-registered timestamps.
  3. Submit the DMCA complaint to the user’s host or use a DMCA Designated Agent.

If your claim is successful, you can expect the offending website’s host to remove your stolen content unless the site owner feels that your complaint is unwarranted and issues a counter-notice.

If for any reason, you’re still experiencing issues or problems, use this form to notify Google and request that they remove the infringing content. If your claim is verified, Google will delist the content from its search results (note: you will have to repeat this process for every page of content stolen from your website).

Visit the website: DMCA

Reporting A Violation Or Infringement On Social Media

Content theft and violations or infringements of your copyright aren’t only restricted to content on your website.

See the links below to report violations or infringements of your rights on your social media platforms:

  • Facebook – Use this tool to report violations of copyrights or trademarks on Facebook.
  • Amazon – Amazon Brand Registry (ABR) allows you to maintain control over your products and intellectual property on Amazon.
  • YouTube – You can report channels on YouTube with content designed to impersonate your business or any other kinds of violations.
  • Instagram – Use this form to report accounts on Instagram pretending to be your business.

Preventing Content Theft – Options

So, you have done everything possible to protect your website content, and it’s still not enough. What more can you do to prevent content theft from happening on your website?

Let’s look at some options:

Make Your Pages/Posts Private

Does your content need to be public? If not, consider making the page or post that includes this content “private.” This way, only those who you give access to your content will be able to view it.

If your website was built using WordPress, you can easily make posts or pages private. See this tutorial for more details: How to Protect your Content In WordPress Posts & Pages

Protect Your Content In A Membership Site

A membership site lets you make all of your content or only specific sections of it private. Only registered members can access your valuable content.

If your site is built using WordPress, refer to these tutorials:

Configure Your RSS Feed To Display Post Summaries Only

Scraping software can obtain content illegally from your website’s RSS feeds if these display full articles in your feed.

If your site allows you to display post summaries only, we recommend choosing this option, as it will limit the amount of content that can be stolen from your site to the post excerpt or post summary only.

Disable Right-Clicking On Your Website

Depending on what kind of platform your website was built with, you may be able to configure your site’s settings to disable right-clicking on users’ web browsers.

For example, if your site runs on WordPress, you can use a plugin like WP Content Copy Protector to disable right-clicking on your website and prevent users from copying your content.

Protect Your Images

Consider adding a watermark to your images. While this may not prevent your images from being stolen, it will let online users know that you are the rightful owner of those images.

Alternatively, consider using these hotlinking prevention methods.

Additional Content Scraping Prevention Solutions

There are sophisticated solutions you can use to detect malicious scraper bots and block them from accessing your website’s content (e.g. DataDome), or scammers, fakes, and frauds copying your brand and stealing your revenue (e.g. RedPoints), but in many cases and for many business or websites, these may be overly expensive or unnecessary solutions.

Prevent Content Theft In WordPress

For useful content protection and content theft-prevention plugins for WordPress users, go here: How To Prevent Content Theft In WordPress 

Prevent Image Hotlinking

Many content thieves engage in the practice of hotlinking images, videos, and downloadable files and this can cost you serious money.

Find out what hotlinking is and how to prevent it here: How to Prevent Content Hotlinking

Content Protection FAQs

Here are frequently asked questions about content protection:

What is content protection?

Content protection refers to the measures and technologies implemented to safeguard digital content from unauthorized access, copying, distribution, or modification. It aims to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of digital assets.

Why is content protection important?

Content protection is crucial to prevent intellectual property theft, piracy, and unauthorized use of digital assets. It helps content creators, publishers, and distributors maintain control over their content, protect their revenue streams, and uphold copyright laws.

What are some common methods of content protection?

Common methods of content protection include encryption, digital rights management (DRM), watermarks, access control mechanisms, secure authentication, and content monitoring systems.

What role does encryption play in content protection?

Encryption transforms readable data into a secured format that can only be decoded by authorized individuals. It’s essential for protecting sensitive information transmitted over the internet or stored in databases, thus ensuring that content remains confidential and tamper-proof.

How does DRM contribute to content protection?

DRM technologies control access to digital content by encrypting it and managing the decryption keys. It regulates how content is accessed, copied, and distributed, providing a layer of security against unauthorized use.

What role do watermarks play in content protection?

Watermarks are embedded into digital content to identify its origin and ownership. They act as a deterrent to unauthorized use and enable tracking of content distribution.

How can access control mechanisms enhance content protection?

Access control mechanisms regulate who can view, modify, or distribute digital content. By implementing strict access controls, organizations can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information.

What are the legal aspects of content protection?

Content protection involves adherence to copyright laws, licensing agreements, and intellectual property rights. Legal frameworks govern the use, distribution, and protection of digital content to ensure compliance and enforce accountability.

How can my organization implement an effective content protection strategy?

Organizations can develop an effective content protection strategy by conducting risk assessments, implementing robust security measures, educating stakeholders about security best practices, and staying updated on emerging threats and technologies.

What is content protection in the context of a CMS?

Content protection involves measures to secure website content from unauthorized access or duplication. This includes implementing user authentication, digital rights management (DRM), and data encryption to ensure that only authorized users can access or modify the content.

How can I secure digital content within a CMS?

To secure digital content, use a combination of access controls, encryption methods, secure hosting environments, and regular security audits. These steps help safeguard your content from unauthorized access and cyber threats.

Can I use DRM for CMS content? How does it help?

Yes, DRM can be applied to CMS content to restrict how content is used and distributed. DRM controls the viewing, copying, and alteration of digital media, ensuring content creators retain control over their digital assets and how they are used.

What are the best practices for implementing content protection in a CMS?

Best practices include:

  • Regular updates and patches to the CMS platform.
  • Using strong authentication and authorization techniques.
  • Regular backups of content.
  • Using HTTPS for secure communication.
  • Educating users about security practices.


Content theft is a serious and growing problem on the web and an unfortunate reality of having an online presence.

While you may not be able to stop someone who is hell-bent on stealing your content from infringing on your intellectual property rights, there are things you can do to prevent those who are less savvy from attempting it. This lesson provides a number of methods to protect your content from being stolen.

Action Steps

If you publish valuable content on your site, make sure to implement as many of the methods covered in this lesson to protect it.



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Image: Content Security