Thanks. Even if you are correct, it could still be liability because they could be potentially brought into court and incur risk and expenses of losing and/or the cost of compliance when settling out-of-court. Numerous high profile cases have been settled out-of-court ostensibly in order to avoid this risk of losing the case. Analogously, I had read somewhere that the record labels were even threatening the online distribution sites with lawsuits for royalties on even a small riff in a song that sounded any similar to a riff in one of the copyrighted songs.
Notice that the cases where the court ruled in favor of hotlinking copyrighted images, this was for “fair use” of search engines providing preview thumbnails as an additional functionality. Whereas, Steemit is displaying the images as blog content, which some opinions think is copyright infringement. And even the courts are sometimes ruling it to be copyright infringement.
Additionally, blogs posted on Steem and displayed by Steemit are often hotlinking to image files uploaded by the blog author to a free image hosting site, thus can be viewed by the court as an attempt to avoid infringement by merely offloading the liability to an innocent third party website. Courts usually see right through such obfuscations of the economic reality and rule accordingly. The placement of the original file on a third-party image hosting site eliminates the technical ability of the original source to remove the image and disable hotlinking with server-side Apache rule.
There is an extra risk of being targeted because of that 59 million coin supply that Steemit Inc. is holding. Flies are attracted to honey.