It's weird when completly reasonable and thoughtful people disagree over a technical issue. For example, I see absolutely no difference between linking to a web page and linking to an image. And yet I know many reasonable people who consider the former to be fine (and probably consider linking policies that prohibit it as close the censorship, and damaging to the web), and yet consider the latter to be some form of theft.
This is expecially strange since most of these people would not mind if I made a link to a tarball of code hosted on their website, even if it contained some images.
Apparently part of the concern is someone using an image on one's server in a way one didn't intend, perhaps taking advantage of its existence to save the bandwidth of hosting their own copy, or passing it off as their own work, or not giving credit for it. But when I put a web page on the internet, I welcome any and all forms of linking to it. If someone chooses to use the existence of that page in a way I didn't anticipate, then I have tools, such as copyright, or taking the page down, or modifying it, to let me deal with that. If someone takes advantage of me hosting the page to drive traffic to their ad-driven web site, and pounds on my server more than I expected (hi slashdot), I welcome the traffic, and deal with it. If I didn't want the world to look at it, I would not put it on a globally accessible web server. If I can deal with these issues for a chunk of bytes that represent text in html, I don't see why I cannot use the same techniques for a different set of bytes that represent an image, or why I should consider it to be any different.
In fact, I'd much rather that people linked directly to images and html on my website, rather than copying them, since in my experience when a high-profile copy is made of a document I've written, it can be annoying not to be able to update it.
Anyway, there must be a concern I'm missing, or a different set of constraints that make my outlook on this different from other reasonable people's, and I'd appreciate being told what it is.
 Yes, images are often loaded inline as part of another page, and yet an innovative browser might well inline webpages that were linked to as well, in some interesting way. Other browsers do not inline images, because they're text based browsers, but still let you see the image as a separate step.