How to serve linked photos: Make a copy or serve on original server

I have a form where people either upload a photo or give link to a photo. The photos will appear in search results.
I don’t know where pictures will link to, it is up to people.
So there are two issues I am worried when I use ‘link’ option.

  1. If I show the picture using link, I will make people consume other server’s bandwidth.
  2. If I download the linked photo, then I will not know if that photo is protected or not. But then I can show thumbnails for fast loading and show pictures even they are removed from server etc.

The photos are pets that people lose and form is asking a photo of their lost pet.
What is better?

Allowing them to use a link means they can change the photo later to an “inappropriate” one and I would think most people would prefer to upload a photo. Basically you have no control over the photo.

You have a lot more control if the photo is uploaded to your server. I would have thought a clause in your terms and a note in the upload form saying the photo must be their property would cover you from any problems.

I recommend you have a terms and conditions page with a box the user has to select on the upload form to cover yourself. You would need to think of what you could get in trouble for and say you are not responsable for it!

Personally I would moderate each post before it was displayed but this could cause a long delay if the post was made at night or while you are on holiday.

Thank you for your comment. They are valuable for me since I never had experience with web site administering.
I will let people upload their photos for sure. In addition to that, I was thinking a more flexible form by giving users the opportunity to links to photos as well.
Maybe it is not a good design decision, I don’t know yet.