For those who don't know, hotlinking occurs when one website links directly to another website's data-intensive assets, such as images and .pdf files, on its own page, presenting the images or documents as its own. In the blogging context, it means doing it without credit. The hotlinker does not even provide a direct link (meaning credit, the only currency that matters to bloggers) to the website or post from which the image or other data-intensive item is stolen. Morally, hotlinking is theft.
Hotlinking goes on all the time. We've had images and documents hotlinked by people at this or that forum, and it's generally no big deal, because the drain on resources from this or that forum is not a problem. But when it comes from a site with huge readership, and awesome resources, like the Excellence-In-Broadcasting-Network, it's a serious problem. The small site slows down, and gets no appreciable increase in readers in return.
When a Rush Limbaugh hotlinks, it's the rich stealing from the poor.
It's also stupid. We've been fortunate in that we've had only one serious hotlinking problem, in which a very large weblog devoted to the inside workings of spoiled, rich, Ivy League associates at Biglaw firms linked directly to a document (rather than the overlaid post) which we hosted at our site, without giving credit or a link to our site. I paid money out of my own pocket to get that document, and was rather angry until the author at that site agreed that what he'd done was wrong, and sent Popehat a link. Everyone was happy.
But if he hadn't, I might have removed the document from our site at midnight, exchanged it for a photo of "Goatse", and watched the fun in the morning. (That Goatse link, for those who do know, is safe.)
So kudos to the Liberty Papers for taking the high road (I'd have Goatse'd Limbaugh and his audience in an instant), and shame on Limbaugh for his theft.
Thanks to Doug Mataconis for the tip.