We have a rule on our forum that we do not allow people to hot link. If you are court doing it twice you are banned from the forum for a period of time. Why do we punish this so harsh? Well unlike all our other rules, hot-linking is illegal in Europe. We do not allow illegal activities on our forum in general so hot-linking is no exception.
What is hot-linking?
Bandwidth theft or “hotlinking” is direct linking to a web site’s files (images, video, etc.). An example would be using an <img> tag to display a JPEG image you found on someone else’s web page so it will appear on your own site, eBay auction listing, weblog, forum message post, etc.
Bandwidth refers to the amount of data transferred from a web site to a user’s computer. When you view a web page, you are using that site’s bandwidth to display the files. Since web hosts charge based on the amount of data transferred, bandwidth is an issue. If a site is over its monthly bandwidth, it’s billed for the extra data or taken offline.
A simple analogy for bandwidth theft: Imagine a random stranger plugging into your electrical outlets, using your electricity without your consent, and you paying for it.
Credit: http://altlab.com/hotlinking.html and they have more information.
Hot-linking, Bandwidth theft or Deep Linking – are all names for the same problem.
This does not mean that you may not link to your own photobucket (or other image hosts) as long as you link to your account and not to someone else’s account. Make sure you don’t link to a picture from someone else’s website or photobucket and you are in no trouble.