The subject does rapidly get banal, right enough; but it's important if working on images is what pays your bills. There's a bit more awareness these days thanks to many stories like this; but back in the day internet images were more-or-less universally seen as fair game.
And hotlinking is even worse, because the miscreant is making off with (and profiting by) your work AND stealing your bandwidth. Again, not so crucial these days when most people have a few spare Gb to throw around, but back in the day a big site nicking your image could be easily enough to overrun your hosts bandwidth allowance and fold your website (possibly taking out your email as well if you weren't organised).
Even though image manipulation is indoor work with no heavy lifting, it is still work; takes time to learn; and more time to produce a particular image. And the results are easily stealable. You can't wander off with - say - a day's plumbing, so plumbers don't need this sort of protection and are probably equally bored with "who owns the image" stories.