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I just noticed that the awesome cakes images are gone in this very popular question:

Surprise for a programmer on Birthday

I'm sure there are many other broken images out there and I know you are already aware of this problem (broken images = broken windows).

If legally feasible, I'm suggesting to backup the images in case the question is locked using your friendly hosting partner imgur, automagically changing the images pointing to the new safer sources.*

* It would be cool to backup all of the images not hosted on imgur, but I know it would be a nightmare to maintain.

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I strongly doubt whether re-uploading the images to imgur is legally feasible. In many jurisdictions, hot-linking is considered okay, while re-uploading is considered stealing. Without a user to perform the action (and to take the responsibility), this is dangerous – Pëkka Nov 2 '10 at 11:10
@Pekka yep, I thought it could be a legal problem. Obviously this should be explicitly declared in the TOS of the site. This problem is really hard to tackle :-/. – systempuntoout Nov 2 '10 at 11:19
NOTE: The question in question has now been deleted. – ChrisF Nov 29 '12 at 11:43
In that specific case they're also posted as an answer: – George Duckett Nov 29 '12 at 12:02

It's not a problem restricted to locked questions.

Any image could become a broken link if one of the following happens:

  1. The OP deletes the image from where they uploaded it in the first place.
  2. The hosting provider used by the OP removes the image (it's older than some time limit or the OP has exceeded their usage).
  3. The hosting provider goes bust.
  4. Some other reason I haven't thought of.

The general solution is to add a comment to the post in the hope that the OP spots it and re-uploads the image using imgur.

If you can't comment or flag the post then raising a question on the site's meta will get the moderators attention. I'm not sure what they can reasonably do other than edit the image link out or even delete the post if it makes no sense without the image.

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I'm well aware it is not a problem restricted to locked questions but if I could start from somewhere, I would start to fix these famous locked questions (a kind of istitution for me). Anyway, I see more than a flaw on my proposal :-/. – systempuntoout Nov 2 '10 at 11:29
@systempuntoout - in that case you should update your question title. – ChrisF Nov 2 '10 at 11:37
how could I add a comment since the post is LOCKED? – systempuntoout Nov 8 '10 at 7:47
@systempuntoot - true, but I wasn't only thinking about locked questions. – ChrisF Nov 8 '10 at 9:03

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