Say I find a particularly interesting web comic and I want to discuss it on my blog. The feature is the comic, so I want to add it as an image (rather than just providing a URL). I know that hotlinking someone else's image is bad, because they're paying for the network bandwidth of hosting the image, while getting none of the ad revenue. I also feel like copying the image and rehosting it myself is also bad (since it's not my image to copy).

What's the general protocol here? Do I just post the URL of the comic? What about the (unlikely) event that the comic is no longer available? Should I contact the author and ask for permission?

  • 4
    I think that the problem with this is that there's a difference between the etiquette and the legal concerns. Most artists will have disclaimers on their site (or should) that explain whether their work can be reposted or not. This wins out over anything else. Can you go into any detail about whether such a note exists on this comic's site?
    – Catija
    Jan 16, 2018 at 23:33
  • 3
    This belongs on law.stackexchange.com and already has a few related questions that might help: law.stackexchange.com/questions/641/…
    – Jesse
    Jan 17, 2018 at 0:28
  • @Catija (and Jesse) You're right, this is more of a legal issue. I hadn't thought to check if the artist had a disclaimer on their site (which they do). In any case, I think there is a good answer to the question, so I won't delete it.
    – Fodder
    Jan 17, 2018 at 21:26

2 Answers 2


You should always provide the source or author, unless specifically stated that it is is not needed to do so, such as under certain licenses.

Here is an example license of xkcd.com:

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

This means that you are free to copy and reuse any of my drawings (noncommercially) as long as you tell people where they're from.

That is, you don't need my permission to post these pictures on your website (and hotlinking with is fine); just include a link back to this page. Or you can make Livejournal icons from them, but -- if possible -- put xkcd.com in the comment field. You can use them freely (with some kind of link) in not-for-profit publications, and I'm also okay with people reprinting occasional comics (with clear attribution) in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, and presentations. If you're not sure whether your use is noncommercial, feel free to email me and ask (if you're not sure, it's probably okay).

Generally it is possible to use parts of a source without having digital right concerns. For instance, you can post one frame of the comic with the link to the source where the full content can be watched. Or you can quote a sentence. You can upload a part of a movie. What you can't do is displaying it as a whole in full quality. By using only a part and providing the link to original source you may actually benefit the original author. When in doubt you should ask the original author for permission.

For example, an XKCD comic does not need permission as long as it's not for commercial use. So, you cannot use it for printing T-shirts, but you can use it for educational purposes. In the description of the picture it is a good idea to include the author or source.



I would post the cover of the webcomic (if there isn't one put a frame from the comic) and point the source (with an URL or referencing a blog of tha autor o just the name of the web page where the comic is available) while also putting the name of the author at the bottom of the image cover. If you want to discuss about the story and will touch content that may contain spoilers, it´s good to announce that however is new to the story should read it first so that the original content may have more views. In the unlikely case that the link doesn't work anymore, you should just put something like

    Read the comic [here]

and change the link if it isn't working anymore.

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