Hotlinked

So this weekend, I checked my Google Webmasters account for this site and discovered a site called abmp3.com had sent 3088 links to me. Funny, cause I hadn’t seen a huge jump in visitors here. Certainly no one was saying hello or leaving comments. I visited abmp3 and discovered it’s an engine that apparently crawls the web searching for unprotected mp3 files and then indexes them and makes them available for download.

When I did a search for “the hit on list” I landed on a page that showed a lot of my songs. When you click on a song, you’re prompted for a CAPCHA code so the site can somewhat assess you’re not a bot. Then you have the option to download my song directly or play it and embed it.

It’s a cool idea for a site to help people find songs that are plainly available for download. But the site works by linking directly to the file on my server. So their users download from me without ever seeing my site. That costs me bandwidth and potentially money if I exceed my bandwidth cap. I gave it some thought because I do want my songs to be freely available. But free downloads from my site are worth it to me if someone is visiting my site and hopefully becoming a fan.

I don’t think I’d have a problem if abmp3 wanted to host my mp3s on their server and make them available to download (as long as they also provided a link to my site). But I just can’t afford for them to leech my bandwidth.

To prevent it I added some lines to my .htaccess file following guidelines here and here. What I am doing now is redirecting links to my mp3 files from abmp3 to a download notice. Unfortunately, I don’t know which songs users are trying to download or I could send them directly to the song page.

The other problem I have is that currently abmp3 creates an embeddable flash player of each song. My .htaccess lines don’t prevent those links. And abmp3‘s flash player is branded for their site with no credit to my site. That hurts me too. I’m about to email the webmaster of the site but if anyone has a tech trick to prevent my hosted mp3s from being loaded into their flash player, I’d love to hear it.