Home GoDaddy’s SOPA Support Sparks Calls for Boycotts and Domain Transfers

GoDaddy’s SOPA Support Sparks Calls for Boycotts and Domain Transfers

The list of companies that support the controversial piece of U.S. legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is fairly predictable. It includes huge media conglomerates, music industry groups, pharmaceutical companies and the like. One name that stands out, however, is that of domain name registrar GoDaddy. Whereas many of the big Web technology companies have come out in opposition to SOPA, GoDaddy enthusiastically supports the proposed law.

Not unsurprisingly, this news does not sit well with many of the Internet’s most vocal SOPA opponents, especially on Reddit. A thread that popped up on the site today decries GoDaddy’s support for SOPA and encourages users to transfer their domains to another provider. The conversation, which has more than a few choice words for GoDaddy, has grown quite long.

The thread was kicked off by a user called selfprodigy, a small business owner who promises to transfer all 51 of his company’s domains to another registrar, something that is seldom a simple, speedy process. Reddit users are proposing that December 29 be named “Move Your Domain Away From GoDaddy Day” in response to the company’s support of SOPA.

So Why Does GoDaddy Support SOPA Anyway?

“As much as some would like to paint a bleak picture, this debate is not about Hollywood vs. Silicon Valley,” reads a statement GoDaddy filed with the U.S. House of Representatives.  “This debate is about preserving, protecting, and creating American jobs and protecting American consumers from the dangers that they face on-line.”

GoDaddy goes on to condemn the ease with which people can conduct illegal activity like selling fake drugs and sharing copyrighted material on the Internet today and dismisses concerns about the potential drawbacks of SOPA and the Protect IP Act. Critics claim that this legislation hands too much power over to corporations and authorities to police the Internet and could lead to wholesale censorship online. GoDaddy disagrees.

“This bill cannot reasonably be equated with censorship.  This bill promotes action pursuant to preexisting criminal and civil laws,” the company said.  “Not only is there no First Amendment concern, but the notion that we should turn a blind eye to criminal conduct because other countries may take oppressive steps in response is an affront to the very fabric of this nation.”

Whatever the logic of GoDaddy’s position may be, SOPA critics are not buying it. The calls to boycott the company have begun to spread beyond Reddit and competing domain registrars are using the opportunity to promote their own services. Namecheap, a provider frequently cited in the Reddit thread (Namecheap’s social media manager is active in the discussion), has offered up discount codes like BYEBYEGD for users who wish to move away from GoDaddy. Talk of customers moving their domains has even come up in the company’s own support forums.

Still, we’re talking about a company that has over 50 million domains registered and it’s not yet clear how widespread opposition to SOPA is beyond the tech community. Whether or not these efforts will have a sizable impact on GoDaddy’s business remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The anti-GoDaddy sentiment has only spread in the last few hours. Y Combinator founder Paul Graham announced that pro-SOPA companies would no longer be welcome at the incubator’s Demo Days and other events. Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh has threatened to move more than 1,000 domain names from GoDaddy to another provider and is publicly encouraging Google to reconsider its relationship with GoDaddy as well.

UPDATE #2:Automattic founder and WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg tweeted a link this morning to GoDaddyBoycott.org, a site that encourages users to sign an online petition against GoDaddy and pledge to transfer their domains away from the service. The site looks to be an extension of Fight For the Future, an anti-SOPA advocacy site.

UPDATE #3: In response to the wave of criticism and boycott threats, GoDaddy has revised its stance on SOPA, announcing that they no longer support the legislation in its current form.

ReadWriteWeb will be keeping a close eye on this story and SOPA developments in general in the days and weeks ahead, so stay tuned for more news and analysis.

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