HuskyPup - 12:50 pm on Feb 23, 2010 (gmt 0)
They use images in forums or facebook or whatever just for fun. Often they find it via google-image-search.
And therein lies the problem and especially so with myspace since they actually have a search panel delivering Google image results for users to hotlink to.
I had a HUGE problem with this however have resolved it using htaccess and hotlink protection in my cpanel with a 302 to the Google/Bing search page. In January alone this accounted for nearly 150,000 redirects but only 27 mb in bandwidth whereas in November I had created a 404 page which generated 200,000+ hits and 2 gb of bandwidth. So far in February another 150,000!
The initial attempt at hotlinking still shows in my logs and also in AdSense as a page impression (I have removed AdSense from the most requested pages) however my bandwidth has dropped enormously as you can see.
In Google images my thumbnails are shown and clicking on it actually shows the large image however when refreshing it disappears to Google/Bing search and hotlinking does the same.
When the images are shown on myspace clicking on them show them as unavailable.