GoDaddy Faces Boycott Threat From SOPA Opponents

Internet domain registrar GoDaddy is facing a boycott threat after it figured in a list of supporters of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger, which runs humor websites, said in a Twitter message: "We will move our 1,000 domains off @godaddy unless you drop support of SOPA. We love you guys, but #SOPA-is-cancer to the Free Web".

SOPA, which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in late October, would allow the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders blocking payment processors and online advertising networks from doing business with foreign sites accused of infringing copyright. Court orders at the request of the DOJ could also bar search engines from linking to the allegedly infringing sites, require domain name registrars to stop resolving queries that direct traffic to those sites, and require Internet service providers to block subscriber access to sites accused of infringing.

After a December 15 hearing where testimony was dominated by proponents, the house judiciary committee delayed further hearingsuntil next year.

GoDaddy is no stranger to controversy. Earlier this year GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons mounted a media blitz to defend his elephant-hunting habits.
A Boycott GoDaddy website has been set up to collect pledges for a boycott and transfer of domains from GoDaddy.com which is operated by the GoDaddy group. "GoDaddy has publicly put their support behind the heinous Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA," according to a message on the site. "If you work on the internet and do business with GoDaddy you're supporting a company who is actively working against your best interests," it added.

Reddit user selfprodigy said on Thursday he had finished writing GoDaddy a letter stating he was moving the 51 domains of his small businesses and his personal domains from the registrar.

He triggered off the boycott of GoDaddy by suggesting December 29 as a "move your domain away from GoDaddy day" because of their support of SOPA, according to the Boycott GoDaddy site.

It isn't clear how many customers GoDaddy may have lost so far as a result of the boycott. The company was not immediately available for comment. It claims on its website that it manages over 50 million domain names for more than nine million customers worldwide.

Several domain registration services such as Name.com are offering discounts to users wanting to transfer their domains from GoDaddy.com, while expressing their opposition to SOPA.

Go Daddy said in a blog post on Thursday that its role in the SOPA issue is part of the company's active role in the area of policy development that impacts the Internet.

"We have a unique view into the dangers and economic damage caused by foreign websites dedicated to infringing US intellectual property, including injury and death from fake consumer goods and drugs," the post by GoDaddy executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, Christine Jones said. "So, we will continue to work with Congress, our friends in the Internet community, and intellectual property holders, to make progress on this extremely important issue."

In an October 28 statement titled "Online Copyright Laws Won't Prevent a Flourishing Internet", GoDaddy had argued that "While increasing demands on intermediaries are less than desirable for all of us, we can't just turn a blind eye to illegal conduct online."

GoDaddy has been sending messages on Twitter asking customers to check the blog post to view the details of the company's position on SOPA. "We have worked with the House Judiciary Committee to make changes we believe are necessary and have made attempts to work with the rest of the leaders in the Internet ecosystem to ensure the final version of the bill is acceptable to everyone involved," it said in the blog post.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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