Bandwidth Theft

This page was written to explain Bandwidth Theft.  Some people have a hard time understanding what it is and what they are doing wrong. 

What is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth is basically a measure of how much information is moving on or off of a website. Every time you view a web page, bandwidth is used. Costs are involved whenever bandwidth is used.

Who pays for it?

On "free" websites, it is the owner of the domain. To regulate this cost, bandwidth limits are put in place. If a site exceeds its limit, the site becomes unavailable. The Domain owner offsets costs by placing ads on the web pages. 

On paid websites, the owner buys an allotment of bandwidth each month. 

How does "theft" occur?

If you have a website and place content from another website on it by direct file link, you are using someone else's bandwidth. This is bandwidth theft. 

Some samples:

In these examples, we will assume you own a site called  and someone else owns a site called 

You want to put a picture on your web page. This picture is already on another website.  Instead of making your own copy and uploading it to your site, you simply image link to it at it's current location on the server. 

Sample code on your page at

<img border="0" src="" width="345" height="276">

You have just committed Bandwidth Theft.

Why is that theft?

The owner of is paying for people to view the image on your site, or his/her quota of bandwidth is being used up when people view your site causing his/her site to become unavailable sooner. 

Are there exceptions?

Some web rings and banner ads request that you do exactly that!  The reason is they are either collecting information on their server, or want the artistic choice of what appears on your site. Counter systems also work that way. The bottom line is that they are extending their permission to you to do that. This is not considered bandwidth theft.

How do I link and display pictures?

The best way is to request the owners permission to use their work. Once obtained, the owner will instruct you how to display their image. Some may even request the direct linking show above so that they may remove or modify the picture at their will.  Others will instruct you to copy the picture and upload it to your own website and provide a credit link back to their website.

How do I link back to their website?

A direct hyperlink back to their own index page is best. Example:   Depending on the server, you may be able to link to the page the image is on. Example:
Notice how you are linking to an HTML page and not an image or other file. This is important.  It allows their server to display whatever advertising they may be using to offset server/bandwidth cost.  Even if ads are not used, the page provides a view of their own website. They have the options to display what they want, and that is why they are paying the bill!

As a footnote, always open the new site in a new window. This provides full access to the new site, while keeping your site alive in the old window!