Evan Martin writes "LiveJournal.com is an open-source weblog site with over a million users, some of whom use AOL. Last week, AOL began blocking all HTTP requests with "www.livejournal.com" Referer headers. This is a common practice by image hosting sites to prevent off-site linking of their images and 'bandwidth theft'. However, in AOL's case, they're blocking everything, not just images, effectively breaking all links to any AOL member's site--but only from LiveJournal. To be clear: nobody on LiveJournal can even make a link to any AOL member site without getting a '404 Not Found' error. We've also heard reports of the same thing happening on AOL properties (Netscape, Compuserve). This concerns us because we have to deal with the support requests: it worked in the past for our users, and it continues to work for other sites, so our users think it's our fault."
"We've tried to contact AOL three different ways, all without success. We've also told our users to contact their tech support. At one point, an AOL
out that FTP access still worked (which is probably because FTP has no
"Referrer" concept), and so, as an interim fix, we're rewriting all HTTP URLs
to use FTP on the AOL properties where that works instead. This means that
users can again host their images on the AOL webspace they're paying for, but
more importantly, it means they can simply link to their webpage.
We wouldn't be so upset if they were simply blocking images. Bandwidth use is a valid concern, after all, and we even provide step-by-step instructions for people to configure their webservers to prevent image "theft". However, because they're blocking all access, including regular links, this looks like it's either a mistake, or something more insidious (the conspiracy theorists have pointed out that AOL has just launched their own competing weblog product, also based on "journals").
Although CI Host sued AOL recently for being blocked, we really don't want to do that. We still suspect that this was all just a mistake, and hopefully, by making this public, we'll manage to get their attention, since all our previous attempts have failed."