guilty as charged

hotlinking hooligans

It, thankfully, doesn't happen often, but there have been occasions where I've found ignorant or jerky webmasters direct linking to my images. Also known as "bandwidth stealing", it is sadly a common practice online. Whether through not knowing any better, or just not caring, individuals link up to images you are paying to host. Since every time an image is viewed it eats up your bandwidth, the viewing of these direct-linked images comes out of your pocket.

From Sins of the Internet: Bandwidth Stealing by Richard Lowe, Jr. and Claudia Arevalo-Lowe:

It may not seem like it is a serious thing to include a photo on your web page directly from someone else's server, but nonetheless, each of these small hits add up. When dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people do the same thing, a web host can find itself needing to purchase new servers or communications lines to handle the load.

Phenomenal Women of the Web's informative page, Don't Even Think About It! explains what bandwidth stealing and direct linking is and warns against it; also included is information on why and how people direct link (sometimes unknowingly).

It also provides this lovely graphic for webmasters to display on their page to let others know they will not tolerate bandwidth stealing. Give it a read and link up!

And as Richard Lowe, Jr. says in another article, Web Legalities: Bandwidth Stealing:

This is extraordinarily bad form, it's tasteless and it should be avoided like the plague.

Touche. Unfortunately, "I didn't know any better" is not a valid excuse. There is plenty of documentation and net etiquette info out on the web on bandwidth stealing and why you shouldn't do it. When it comes to costing other people money, ignorance is no excuse.

Mr. Lowe also tells what to do if you catch someone stealing your bandwidth:

What do you do if someone links to your images or files without your permission and he will not stop? Replace the file with something else. A picture or document stating that this person is stealing bandwidth should suffice. If you can get the email address or phone number of the person, you might include it for additional impact.

Which is exactly what I do. Not only do the cretins get the images replaced by my artful, and not-so-nice, graphics they also get to be chronicled here on this page - so that the world can always know them as direct-linkers. Maybe it isn't nice, but neither is direct-linking. If you steal my bandwidth, prepare to feel my wrath.

Without further adieu I welcome you to's Bandwidth Bandits - navigation on the left for your viewing pleasure.

NOTE: Some images on this site are NWS!