In Star Wars, hyperlanes are:
A hyperlane, also known as a hyperroute, hyperway, hyperspace route, hyperspace lane, spacelane, star-route, or trade route, was an area of space that had been deemed safe for hyperspace travel. The largest were known as super-hyperroutes.
And the wikia's more extensive answer is:
Hyperlanes were routes through space in which a spaceship could safely travel without colliding with a body in space, or some other phenomenon such as a black hole. There were about eight major routes in the galaxy, with hundreds of secondary routes and thousands of minor ones. Scouting new hyperspace routes was an incredibly dangerous task for an explorer.
In many parts of the galaxy hyperlanes also involved periodic re-entry into realspace. This was so as to manually maneuver the ship towards the next hyper-point. It was in these spots that pirate raids were common. The Galactic Empire and other governments often sought to lessen this threat by constructing deep-space platforms at hyper-points. Mine fields and probe droids were also deployed.
But how do they actually work? Are they merely coordinates? Is there some reason why in vastness of space there are so few of them? "Hundreds" and "Thousands" is actually a pittance compared to the incredible size of the Galaxy. Why are they so rare and valuable? From the description of The Great Hyperspace War:
During the height of the Sith Empire, two Republic hyperspace explorers stumbled upon the Sith mausoleum planet of Korriban by chance. The siblings, Gav and Jori Daragon, hoped to discover a lucrative new hyperspace route that would help them pay off their enormous debts.
How would one "sell" a new hyperlane? It seems like once one other person has the coordinates, it diminishes in value exponentially as the coordinates are "sold" again. Once someone knows the coordinates are safe, they can share or sell those coordinates. In fact, it is baffling to why droids couldn't be used to the same thing the Daragons are doing to unlock virtually every possible route in a region in a relatively short period of time. Especially considered the rather lowly peg on the totem pole droids occupy in Star Wars culture. Both sentient and expendable? Seems like a good explorer to me.
I can't remember a single point in movies or books where traveling by hyperspace is controlled in any way. We don't see ships being stopped for tolls, we don't see anyone buying a new hyperlane or even really worrying about them - they just punch in some numbers and...