Yes, you are correct.
Hotlinking is when you link to an image posted on a website without that owner's permission. When someone views that image on WWGHA, it uses up some of that site's bandwidth, but without the viewer actually visiting the site. Over time this can cost a site owner money, while giving them nothing in return (the image hasn't brought anyone to their site.)
As a result of this, many sites use security to disallow hotlinks. Or, if they discover an image is hotlinked, they may replace it with an image designed to punish you, usually something offensive or embarrassing. This could make you look like you're intentionally posting crude content.
In short, hotlinking:
- Is rude
- Steals bandwidth
- Has inherent risks to reputation/security
To figure out if a site allows hotlinks, check their terms of service. Sites that do will explicitly tell you; otherwise, you need their permission to do so. When in doubt, you can always email the site owner and ask.
Usually, it's best to just host the image yourself. That way, you have control over the images, and you know that linking to them is ok.
There are a couple ways to do this:
- On a site or server you own.
- On web space provided to you by your internet service provider.
- On an image hosting site, such as Photobucket, ImageShack, TinyPic, etc. (Just google "free image hosting.")