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Protecting your RSS feeds image replacement

If you publish an RSS feed then it will eventually be republished (stolen) on a website somewhere else on the web. The plain and simple fact is that it is really easy to republish an RSS feed.

Having previously covered protecting your RSS feed using a copyright notice we are now going to look at protecting your feed using image replacement. This is a technique where a request to your server for an image is met with a replacement warning image if the request is not internal to your site.

Should you protect your feed

It is unlikely that someone else republishing your feed will rank higher than you in he search engines for the republished content. This means that they will unlikely be stealing traffic from you or competing with you in the search engines.

You may find that you are getting traffic from sites that are using your RSS feed. If this is the case you may want to consider maximising this traffic by adding a footer message at the end of each RSS post to get readers to subscribe to your feed or visit your site. You can also reference more content from your site by linking back to older content on your site within new posts. This will help you generate more traffic.

Image replacement technique

Now if you are sure you want to go ahead with this technique because you are fed up with people stealing your content then you can use this .htaccess technique. This is called hotlink protection and allows you to stop images from your site being displayed on other sites.

The following code needs to be added to your .htaccess file on your server. I would advise you to not do this if you have no idea what I am talking about. If you do know about .htaccess then make sure you test the code on your server rather than just copy and pasting the following code. By the way if you copy and paste this directly to your .htaccess file it won't work properly anyway.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(.+\.)?yoursitename\.com/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^http://(.+\.)?feedburner\.com/ [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteRule .*\.(jpg|jpeg|gif|bmp|png|swf)$ /img/errorimg.jpe [L]

Thanks to Michael Bloch from Taming the Beast for the code.

You need to change the word yoursitename with the name of your own site. If you use Feedburner to serve your RSS feed then you need to leave the line that mentions feedburner in. If not you can remove it.

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