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What Does “Offshore Hosting” Even Mean, Anyway?

“Offshore hosting” is a phrase that’s been around for quite a while now.

But, what does it really mean?

I’m guessing the server isn’t literally located here:

Source: BBC

In Sealand, an unrecognized micronation (country?) 7 miles from the shore of Britain.

It’s probably very much on land.

So instead of saying “offshore hosting,” let’s try something else…

DMCA Ignored Hosting

Often times when normal everyday people ask for “offshore hosting,” what they really mean is they want a highly tolerant host that mostly stays out of the way or a grey area host.

Most commonly, DMCA-ignored hosting, so they can load up Plex, Jellyfin, or whatever else and… seed Linux ISOs until their heart’s content without worrying about copyright laws.

When it comes to finding DMCA-ignored hosting, the country hosting the server and its individual laws are crucial.

One of the most important organizations when it comes to world copyright is the World Intellectual Property Organization, a sub-branch of the United Nations.

They created the WIPO copyright treaty – I’ll let them describe the treaty:

The WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) is a special agreement under the Berne Convention which deals with the protection of works and the rights of their authors in the digital environment. In addition to the rights recognized by the Berne Convention, they are granted certain economic rights.  The Treaty also deals with two subject matters to be protected by copyright: (i) computer programs, whatever the mode or form of their expression; and (ii) compilations of data or other material (“databases”).

The contracting parties include (as it stands) 115 countries.


  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • India
  • Russia
  • Netherlands
  • Romania
  • Luxembourg
  • China
  • Beyond

Every single country that has agreed to this UN treaty has agreed to respect digital copyright with laws similar to the United States DMCA laws.

While what’s commonly considered offshore like Netherlands, Russia, or Romania does not have DMCA specifically, they do have individual copyright laws and an international digital copyright treaty.

What that means more or less is while a host may mislead you with “DMCA ignored” they often simultaneously say things like “no public trackers allowed” which basically means they, in fact, know copyright is illegal, they simply just do not have the direct United States equivalent of DMCA, but their own respective local laws.

I’ve even seen threads where a host advertises DMCA ignored and then proceeds to clarify they follow copyright laws.

Terminology like:

  • Offshore hosting
  • Bulletproof hosting
  • DMCA-Ignored
  • And beyond

Are primarily for advertising purposes. Any host in a country listed on that WIPO copyright treaty cannot be considered copyright and/or DMCA ignored in any real capacity. They’ve publically agreed to honor international copyright (enforcing it, of course, is another story).

While I’m not going to directly link to “offshore hosting” or “DMCA ignored” hosting, what I can suggest is to do your research on the laws of the country the server is being hosted in, and particularly any international treaties (or EU/US influence) that country may have.

There are still very relaxed providers that will allow simple things like torrenting, etc, especially if you’re doing it over VPN.

Some providers on LowEndTalk will tell you if they allow things like public or private torrenting on the offer threads themselves.

Does True No Limits Hosting Exist?

No, not really. The internet is relatively centralized.

US/EU politics and their respective laws, plus, a few very large companies have a lot of influence on how the Internet operates.

There are levels to “offshore hosting,” though…

For example:

Shoe bots, email spamming, and warez while nefarious and illegal (in some countries) are obviously bad things…

However, if it’s relatively minor grey area use cases like the three mentioned above, hosts are more likely to turn a blind eye if it’s less serious. Especially in a country like Moldova rather than the United States.

Of course, there are cases of free speech where the United States is considered arguably the best country in the world to host your content in, too…

The use case and need for a host that won’t de-platform you tend to vary, along with the appropriate country to host that use case, per local laws.

But, these hosts in foreign countries do tend to know what local politics will allow them to get by with in grey area hosting, and they’ll push the envelope until they get told not to.

Even if on paper these countries are held by treaties, and contain grey area laws that present an argument of illegality, a lot of the time they’re hardly enforced…

It’s All a Game of Obscurity

Plus time… and backups.

If you’re the type of person that requires offshore hosting, or DMCA-ignored hosting, you’ll come to realize these grey area hosts come and go exceptionally fast.

Usually, these types of people aren’t in it for the long haul and know legal consequences can come, or those legal consequences do come and pressure the company out of business.

More often than not it’s a game of obscurity.

How long can the content, and the host that’s actively hosting whatever type of content that would require any type of grey area hosting last without being noticed by anyone important up the chain?

That’s usually about how long you can last on an offshore host before moving to the next offshore host.

Get used to rsync, because you’ll need it.

Oh, and it’s not “offshore hosting” — servers are in fact hosted on land.

Sometimes they happen to have different local politics and laws, though…

Sir Foxy

1 Comment

  1. when will people start putting underwater servers like what microsoft did

    August 9, 2023 @ 1:34 am | Reply

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