Bandwidth theft ("hotlinking") is when someone else makes their website using your space, images, sounds, videos, etc.
This theft occurs when they link directly to your objects (as opposed to your pages). You end up paying for the storage space and the bandwidth to serve them.
With the substantial cost of bandwidth, bandwidth theft is becoming increasingly more frequent ... and more expensive.
We at Hosting Masters offer a service that allows you to prevent bandwidth theft -- and even profit from attempted thefts!
Hotlinkers are in for a surprise when you make use of our "RewriteCond" feature (supported on all accounts). Instead of stealing your precious bandwidth, they will be turned into revenue generators! RewriteCond is a feature of "htaccess" that allows you to control access to your valuable web resources - you get to restrict access to your files to whatever URLs you wish.
If someone has a graphic call from a URL that's not one of your listed URLs, one of two things happen. If the call is embedded in a page (i.e., with a head and body and all) they get a broken graphic - not found. If it's just a call for the graphic like http://www.domain.com/graphic/mike.jpg - which is usually the case - then they get a substituted file of your choice. You can give them a page with some pay-for-click-through banners. Not only does this reduce your bandwidth by stopping bandwidth theft, but you actually generate revenue from it instead!