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Some years ago I set up an April Fools hack that poked fun at a well-known web site. It was all aboveboard and well within what's considered legal (I checked with my lawyer). However, the well-known site sent an automated protest to my hosting service (ServerBeach) and domain registrar (GoDaddy). Both of them, purely on the basis of this email, without performing any investigation, decided that they should shut down my site, presumably because they figured the cost of standing up to the big guys was higher than the cost of standing up to me.

I want to do something similar this year and I want to find a hosting service that isn't so timid. I don't mind dealing with a business that aggressively pursues illegal behavior, but I do mind dealing with a service that merely assumes that emails from companies like Google or Apple are equivalent to legal proof which requires them to take immediate action.

I'm guessing that means a non-US hosting company and registrar.

So... any advice on some reputable overseas hosting companies and domain registrars who are stronger advocates for their customers (and hopefully as a side effect, somewhat better at preserving privacy for a time)?

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3 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Traditionally the answer has been the "bulletproof hosting" services which tend to be based out of former Soviet Bloc countries. Look around in forums related to sending spam and other less than legal activities, and you'll find providers. Don't forget that you need bulletproof everything - Registrar, DNS, and Hosting. Unfortunately, such services tend to be expensive.

As danlefree said, there's no judgement call involved in your hosting providers decision to "cave" to a DMCA notice. They are obligated by law. If they don't take it down, they become complicit in any legal mess. They are just as obligated by law to put your content back up if you file a proper counter-notice. Have your counter notice ready, and send it the moment your site goes offline.

If you're concerned about keeping things up during a specific time frame and you're certain that the companies in question will send a notice, put your content up early, let them remove it, then file your counter notice. In order for them to force your site down at that point, they must actually sue you in court over the matter.

Also, choose a better registrar. Even if you decide to go with this latter strategy, GoDaddy is likely to give you trouble - they've been known to be extremely slow responding to counter-DMCA notices and sometimes terminate customers (probably illegally) who have a history of this kind of trouble.

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My apologies for answering so late. I think this gives practical advice, although I would still welcome recommendations for a "better registrar." –  ddoughty Dec 12 '10 at 4:05
    
My typical recommendation for better registrar is Resell.biz. They have better prices, better customer service, and don't play daft games with their customer domains and livelihoods. They're not particularly "bulletproof" though. If you're looking for stronger registration protection, again, consider the former soviet bloc. The language barrier helps, and many companies there ignore takedown requests. Do your research - look at where major torrent sites and spammers are registered. –  Paul McMillan Dec 13 '10 at 4:44
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Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for information posted or transmitted by subscribers if they quickly remove or disable access to material identified in a copyright holder's complaint.

DMCA Safe Harbor at ChillingEffects.org

I used to work for a hosting company - they "cave" because it's the only way to maintain safe harbor status and avoid liability.

You can file a counter-notice (which you may want to prepare for in advance if you know you'll encounter a DMCA) and I think that your hosting provider(s) will work with you if and when it becomes clear that they will not be liable for what you choose to host.

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Isn't the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) irrelevant to non-US hosting companies? –  Asinine Monkey Oct 14 '10 at 15:48
    
Not sure why this was downvoted: While it's not a direct answer to the question it is eminently correct (and if y'all have problems with the way the DMCA works now would be a good time to yell at your congresscritters). –  voretaq7 Oct 14 '10 at 16:02
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@Asinine Monkey - Yes and No: The WIPO's political muscle is behind DMCA-like laws, and lots of other countries have similar laws on the books that result in the same net effect. I don't know many providers who will fly in the face of "Take that down or we'll sue your ass"-type threats, either in the US or offshore... –  voretaq7 Oct 14 '10 at 16:06
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As a middle ground between going offshore and a company that will cave to any DMCA request I'd like to suggest Nearly Free Speach.NET. They have a policy that obeys the DMCA but requires the complainant to jump through every hoop the DMCA provides.

That they provide simple and inexpensive hosting is nice, too.

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