If you’re wondering where all of your bandwidth is going, it may be partly to blame as a result of someone stealing your bandwidth – and it is also very easy to do. If someone is using your images on their website, blog or forum using the URL of the hosted image on your website, for each time that image is viewed, it is being served by the server in which your website is hosted on. Therefore, bandwidth is being used. You can prevent this by using Hotlink Protection which is found in the control panels of our cPanel Web Hosting and Windows Web Hosting. As shown to the right, you essentially designate websites which are permitted to hotlink and websites which are not permitted to hotlink and for those unlisted websites, you can specify an alternate URL to be displayed in replacement – which could be an alternative image to tell those users who are using your images directly to stop doing so. Although, as shown to the left, some people use more elaborative tactics to get people to stop ;).
Are there any legal methods I can use to get others to stop stealing my bandwidth?
We’re not lawyers by any means so we could be wrong – so we wouldn’t precisely know whether there is a piece of law covering bandwidth theft. However, if the person is using an image that is hosted on your server or website that you created, you may be able to contact them and order them to remove it under copyright law – even if they host it separately on their website or blog and stop hotlinking, you can still request them to remove the image under copyright law, seeing as in this case you own the legal right as to who may and may not use it (however, we by no means guarantee we’re right about this – contact a qualified lawyer if in any doubt). However, if it isn’t an image that you own the exclusive copyright of, your only choice of action is to either contact the owner of the website that is hotlinking or to enable hotlinking protection. Do bear in mind that by default hotlink protection is disabled in cPanel and Plesk, and needs to be enabled. In Plesk, the Hotlink Protection function looks like this within the Plesk Control Panel: