Hotlinking is a term used on the Internet that refers to the practice of displaying an image on a website by linking to the same image on another website, rather than saving a copy of it on the website on which the image will be shown. So, instead of loading picture.gif on to their own website, a website owner uses a link to the picture as example.com/picture.jpg. When the hotlinking website is loaded, the image is loaded from the other website, which uses its bandwidth, costing the hotlinked website's owners money. For this reason many website owners use .htaccess files to prevent hotlinking. In some cases website owners use the .htaccess file to replace any hotlinked images with an offensive image to deter any other website owners from hotlinking.
Hotlinking can also be used for file types other than images, including documents and videos.