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Managing bandwidth theft with Deleach:

Bandwidth theft, Hotlinking, Deep-linking, Leeching: it all amounts to the same thing: theft of your copyright, and theft of your data. The DeLeach filter enables you to manage bandwidth theft - or stop it altogether - in minutes!

What is bandwidth theft?

When a web author wants to put a picture on his webpage, he puts a tag on the page refering to the picture. Generally, the picture should be part of the same website as the web page itself. But it doesn't need to be. The picture could be anywhere on the Internet, including your webserver.

Now, whenever sombody visits that author's page, they download the text from his website, and the picture from yours. And that means:

  • They see your picture, on his web page. Most people would think it's his picture, not yours.
  • The data bandwidth which is used to transmit the picture to the user comes from your webserver, not his. You're subsidising his business.
  • You can get all kinds of unwanted spiders and other robots reaching your picture through his web page.

The author has stolen not only your picture, but also your data and your privacy. That's not good.

My bandwidth isn't metered. Why should I care?

There's no such thing as a free lunch! You may not pay for your bandwidth through a meter, but your hosting provider or your ISP makes certain assumptions about how much traffic you're going to use. If the demand on your server peaks because of a leeching website, then several things might happen:

  • Your data links may be busied out - your legitimate visitors may not be able to get in.
  • The extra traffic may violate your provider's fair use policy. In that case, he may
    • squeeze down your bandwidth (so your websaite slows down, even for your legitimate visitors)
    • boost you up into a higher-paying band, or
    • simply shut down your link for the rest of the month.

What you need to do:

Out of the box, DeLeach is set up to provide basic protection against bandwidth theft.

You proceed in two steps:

Step 1: Protect your files from theft:

In this step you'll make sure that your most valuable files can only be seen when they're used from inside your website.

  • Don't put html files into the _self directory - that's not what people are stealing, and you want people to be able to read your webpages!In your website, create a directory called _self.
  • Select which files (pictures, sounds, etc) you want to protect, and move them into _self.

And that's it! From now on, the files that you've moved into _self will only show up if they're included from inside your webpage.

Step 2: Provide replacement content:

If people are deep-linking to your content, you can provide something else for their visitors to see. There are lots of things you can provide:

  • Alternate versions of the original content (see the case study at right)
  • Images which say "Help, Help, I'm being stolen!"
  • Images which carry messages specifically defaming the deep-linking website.

You can provide replacement content per-file, or you can provide a generic, catch-all repalcement.

  • First, prepare the replacement content. In this case we're going to make:
    • a file called branded-cow.jpg to replace a particualrly beautiful picture called cow.jpg
    • a generic file, called stop-thief.jpg, which will replace every other protected file
  • in your website, create a directory called _def.
  • Copy branded-cow.jpg to _def\cow.jpg,
  • Copy stop-thief.jpg to _def\#.jpg
And that's it! Now, every time a remote site asks for cow.jpg, it will see branded-cow.jpg, and every other protected picture will show stop-thief.jpg.

What you need:

Works on all versions of DeLeach


Case Study:

Lunan Lodge was one of the first businesses to benefit from DeLeach.

They had just launched their unique Ghost Safaris, and were publicising them in the run-up to halloween.

Spooky old Lunan LOdge

The publicity was working nicely - they were getting plenty of traffic to the page. But unfortunately, the server logs showed that the picture was being downloaded twenty times as often as the page it was on! It turned out that, all over the internet, people were deep-linking to the picture, using it to advertise their own halloween parties!

Everyone likes a party, but Lunan Lodge was upset because the very people who were going to the parties were also the people who would have enjoyed their ghost safaris. They were giving away their picture, and their bandwidth, to their competition. That wouldn't do!

Using DeLeach, they protected their main picture, and offered a different version to deep-linkers. This alternative version was much smaller (12kb instead of 160kb), and carried a burned-in sales message.

Samantha Unwin, the owner of Lunan Lodge, was delighted with the results. "Instead of working hard and spending a fortune on publicity, suddenly, all over the internet, people were doing our advertising for us."

Business poured in, and they sold out all four events in a matter of days. "DeLeach turned out to be the best viral marketing tool we ever used" said Samantha. "We'll definitely be using it next year!"