Gottfrid Svartholm, creator of ThePirateBay, spent years thinking he was beyond the reach of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). He actually was, for a while. His website was hosted in his home country of Sweden, which was known for its lenient approach to DMCA-protected content.
It all changed when the powers that be united to put an end to the party, and launched an unprecedented legal assault. The FBI ended up raiding the Stockholm data center and bringing the website offline. A Swedish court then ruled against Gottfrid, who found himself locked behind bars.
Sadly, events like this are the only way to measure a country’s level of tolerance towards DMCA-protected content. No country specifically permits it. The game is about finding the ones that look the other way.
Because the list of tolerant countries keeps changing on a yearly basis, I rounded up the countries where it’s still safe to host a website today. Use the information here to understand exactly what each country is comfortable hosting, and godspeed sailing the pirate seas.
Now, don’t forget that while the legal climate in each country is important, it’s the hosting companies that decide what to do with the DMCA takedown notices. We’ve written a separate article on the best DMCA ignored hosting services, but for your convenience, I’m attaching the list here.
The Best DMCA Ignored Hosting Services: Our Top Picks
- Shinjiru – This host accepts any type of content. For complete anonymity, you can use Bitcoin to purchase hosting and domains.
- BlueAngelHost – Offers a huge amount of bandwidth and DDoS protection, with locations in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Russia.
- Flaunt7 – Provides affordable DMCA ignored hosting in the Netherlands, including extra security features. No ID or verification is required.
- ProHoster – The shared plan allows you to host multiple websites. Advanced hosting solutions are available in Russia and Ukraine.
- AbeloHost – The best host for gambling and political content, but not DMCA content. Sites are hosted in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is well-known for its commitment to the privacy and freedom of speech of its citizens. As such, hosting companies that operate in the country enjoy an unparalleled ability (especially compared to the US) to decide what content they allow.
That’s a good start, but there are still a few things to consider: some hosts prefer to avoid dealing with legal issues, and will simply take down your website upon receiving a DMCA notice. In addition, the Netherlands does have copyright laws of its own, and Dutch hosts have been known to take them much more seriously than the US’s DMCA.
Still, the odds are in your favor. The vast majority of notices sent is standard, not specific to any one country. As long as you stick with recommended, time-tested hosts, you’ll be alright.
If you’re looking for a safe haven to host content of a political nature, you’ll be happy to hear that there are few better places on earth to do so. There haven’t been any reports from the Netherlands of websites taken down due to the promotion of legal political activity.
Not unlike the Netherlands, Luxembourg is a thriving modern democracy with progressive laws regarding freedom of speech. As a result, it has become fertile ground for hosting companies that promise to keep your content online, no matter what notice or threat comes their way.
As is the case with the Netherlands, there are local copyright laws that are upheld much more seriously than the US-based DMCA notices. Still, with Luxembourg being a very small and expensive country, there’s a slim chance that actions will be taken against you. Simply put, it’s easier for DMCA lawyers to target hosts in other countries.
The collapse of the Soviet Union has brought many changes to countries in the area, but a newfound respect for US law is not one of them. Most companies openly defy copyright claims, boasting that they will never take your content down for DMCA-related reasons.
And yet, there are risks. Global corruption rankings place Bulgaria first in the European Union, leading many to believe that provided with enough financial incentives, your host might turn on you.
In addition, know that hosting political content becomes much more problematic as we continue to head east. If you’re interested in such a website, it’s better to stick with the Western democracies.
Looking to host a radical political website that fearlessly motivates people to act in the face of oppression? Well, don’t do it in Russia. Seriously. The government regularly shuts down inconvenient political websites, and in recent years there have been multiple reports detailing unlawful detainment of political figures and random bloggers alike.
But… if it’s DMCA-protected content you’re looking to host, the situation is completely different. You’d be hard-pressed to find another country that has so little regard for US copyright law. The DMCA holds no power here, and there’s very little to worry about from the Russian authorities.
Modern pirates, it seems, speak with a Russian accent.
The final leg of our DMCA-ignored countries tour brings us to South Asia. We start with Hong Kong, which is technically a part of China (where you can’t host anything, even if you want to, unless you get a special identification number from the government), but has retained a level of jurisdictional independence.
This independence doesn’t make it a prime location for hosting political content, as the city of Hong Kong is still in political disarray over tensions with China. But for DMCA content, Hong Kong can be very friendly.
Illegal distribution of copyrighted content can be seen all over the city’s markets, and the situation on the internet isn’t much different. In the unlikely case that your website gets hit with a DMCA notice, most hosts will simply discard it.
Singaporean law is quite peculiar. Chewing gum and spitting it out will probably get you incarcerated, but hosting DMCA-protected content – not so much. The government retains control over many aspects of Singapore’s infrastructure, and shows the hosting industry a lot of leniency.
Singapore has become the go-to location for many global hosts looking to expand to the East Asian markets. Hosting giants like Hostinger and FastComet operate data centers on the island, and so do many offshore services that ignore the DMCA. There’s always the risk that Singaporean copyright law will be used against you, but you’ll definitely be safe from US law.
The farthest we’re going to go! This island country has been running a tight hosting ship, with many local companies promising bulletproof services to international customers. There’s a lot to love about what Malaysian law lets these hosts offer: anonymous, untraceable accounts, with payments in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
This basically creates a barrier between you and your DMCA-protected content that no other country provides. You might find other companies around the globe that accept bitcoin or ask for only a few details, but Malaysia-based hosts take the win in this category.
Local copyright law is also the only relevant one in Malaysia, making the country a fantastic location to serve visitors from all over Oceania and East Asia.
The Countries Matter, but It’s Mostly about the Hosts Themselves
We’ve covered the situation in each country with regards to copyright laws and accepted political content, but always remember that the countries only provide the foundation for DMCA-ignored hosting.
A Dutch company might not be obligated to take your website down, but it can. It’s the company that chooses whether to fight for your website, or to simply save itself the trouble and take it down.
Another problem is that a host might protect your website and stand its ground against the DMCA, but provide a slow, unreliable hosting service. Don’t compromise – you need a host that’s fast, reliable, and packed with features.
The only solution is to look for outstanding web hosts in each of these countries – hosts that are committed to ignoring DMCA notices. Use my list of the best DCMA ignored hosts to find the best one for you and your content, and try choosing a location that’s as close to your target audience as possible.