“Copyjacking” legal meme- a gem of a term

July 20th, 2007

Intellectual property lawyer Erik J. Heels coined a new term that I really like: “copyjacking“. More commonly known as “hotlinking”, it refers to the practice of embedding content from another website in order to use the content, but save on bandwidth charges.

I like it because hotlinking isn’t necessarily bad and it is useful to distinguish the bad kind of hotlinking from the good kind. YouTube (and loads of other video sites) encourages users to embed video content on non-YouTube domains. As an example of the bad kind (i.e. copyjacking) Erik takes Freakonomics to task for habitually linking inline to images hosted elsewhere without attribution or apparent permission.

I love this term. What I love even more is that unlike many legal issues there is a sure-fire way to get people to stop the practice- change the image on the host end to something less desirable, such as happened to John McCain last spring.