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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What is Bandwidth Stealing all about? - Don't Even Think About It

There are many "don't steal my bandwidth" pages on the web. They are often long winded and hard for the novice or even the experienced web designer to understand. "Don't Even Think About It"(This article) is short and to the point. You will know what stealing bandwidth is in the 3 short minutes it takes you to read this article that is written without any sugar-coating at all.

What is Bandwidth Stealing really?

There are many forms of bandwidth stealing on the web today. However, the bandwidth theft I am focusing on here is image/graphic stealing, and is the bandwidth theft that occurs the most online. It occurs when you find an image you like and you want on your site. And you...

1. Are too low on income to have server space of your own to use -and/or-
2. Are too lazy to upload the image to your own server -and/or-
3. Are uneducated about the crime you are committing -or all of the above-

So is it a Crime?
Yes, it is a crime. The person whose site the image is on that you are linking to for the source of the image is paying to display their image on your site.

First of all, the image belongs to them, not you. What right do you have to say; "Oh, wouldn't this look great on my site?" and just copy the image URL and use it on your site. You have no right at all. It is not your graphic. Even if it is a very common graphic, for example a bullet or an arrow, and you have seen it on many sites. The operative word here is "on." Get it? It is on a site. That site owner is paying one way or another to have that graphic displayed on the web. Perhaps they pay a monthly fee. Perhaps, they use a 'free' web service, however, they have limits on the amount of bandwidth they are allowed to use. By linking to the graphic, YOU have STOLEN from them one way or another.

Secondly, if it is an original graphic that the site owner designed themself(ves), and you link to the source of the graphic to be displayed on your site, you are not only stealing the bandwidth, you are now plagiarizing their work too.

It seems a big culprit these days are the "community" type websites (MSN Groups, Yahoogroups and a few blogs too are a fine examples). A person can easily set up a little web site lickety-split - and it's even faster when you link to the source of the graphics you have seen on the web & like rather than uploading them in YOUR space. Not to mention writing to the owner of the graphic and asking their permission first. People do this because it is a fast and cheap way to put something up quickly. In doing this, you are stealing!

One other area that is festering boil for bandwidth stealing are the Bulletin Boards that offer the members an ability to have a cutesy little icon next to their name. People remember that cute little picture of a dancing potato they saw on a web site and link to the image source for their member icon. Now, the site owner who's dancing potato graphic you are linking to is looking through their server logs and sees a whooping 205,152 hits to this one little graphic. "What the heck," they say in disbelief! Or, they get a notice from their 'free' web site host telling them that they have exceeded their allowable bandwidth for the month and their site will be shut off OR they have to pay extra money to keep it up.

Bottom line, if you want to use a graphic on your site, you must do these things: write to the site owner of the graphic that you would like to use on your site. •>ASK<•, I repeat ASK them if you can use that graphic on your site. If they say yes, then thank them and be certain to thank them in the credits of your site. If they say no, swear a bit under your breath but under no circumstances do you link to the graphic thinking that "I'm not really using it on my site.. since it is not on my server. Leave it alone and go find something else instead.

Does this text make you angry or are you grinning ear to ear? If you are feeling angry, you are one of those snatch and grab people who take what they want and say the heck with the rules. If you are smiling ear to ear, you are a site owner who is glad to see the text you have just read. It is in plain English and not sugar coated in any way.

A warning: Many site owners (including me) can track down and pinpoint exactly where their images are being used on other sites. When that happens, you will be in trouble. If you are new to the web, take the advice of this article as your first lesson and don't forget it.