Go Daddy Supports SOPA, Loses Thousands of Domains, Changes Mind (Sort Of)

Domain registrar Go Daddy is facing organized backlash after it was revealed earlier in the week that the company is in support of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act currently floating in Congress. Once the ever-nebulous enigma called the Internet community caught wind of Go Daddy’s position, the response was immediate. An outcry from reddit sparked a movement to get website owners to transfer their Go Daddy domains elsewhere. That movement looks to come to a head on December 29th, which has been designated as an informal target date for a boycott. This week saw what could be the beginning of that boycott, with Go Daddy losing 21,054 domains on Friday alone. It was a gradual build-up throughout the week, with domains lost per day as follows:

Monday (8,800)
Tuesday (13,000)
Wednesday (14,500)
Thursday (15,000)
Friday (21,054)

See: http://www.dailychanges.com/domaincontrol.com/ (Note: domaincontrol.com is operated by Go Daddy)

The number should be looked at with temperance – on Friday, 20,034 domains transferred to Go Daddy, making for a net loss of 1,020. For a company that boasts 50 million domains, calling the loss inconsequential would be an understatement, especially when you consider that those numbers don’t take into account new domains created or domains deleted. Still, Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman was moved enough to issue a statement coming out against SOPA during an interview with TechCrunch, stating, “Go Daddy will support [SOPA] when and if the Internet community supports it.” So, everything is cool now, right?

Not quite. Later in the interview, Adelman stopped short of saying the company would officially reverse its position with Congress. As you might imagine, that Internet community was not pleased, with many deriding the statement as a PR stunt. The December 29th boycott is still being pushed for on sites like reddit, but whether or not the numbers of transfers will add up to anything of consequence remains to be seen.

SOPA is a bill that proponents claim will cut down on piracy and counterfeit goods for sale on the Internet by giving the Attorney General powers to order any website found guilty of copyright infringement to be shut down with a court order, while holding websites responsible for user-generated content that infringes on copyrights (relevant for sites like YouTube and Facebook). This would be done on the basis of private complaints, without due process. It’s difficult to say whether or not the law will end up being as harsh as many have stated if passed, but the potential alone has been more than enough to raise the ire of many.

So, why is a huge and growing Internet company coming out in support of a bill that would put potentially draconian controls on the Internet? It’s hard to say for sure, but the fact that Go Daddy, under the current version of SOPA in the House Judiciary Committee, would be exempt from takedown under SOPA has many eyebrows raised.

This hasn’t been Go Daddy’s first run-in with PR difficulties this year – in March, then CEO Bob Parsons upset many with a stylized video of an elephant hunt, which was used in part to help sell Go Daddy domains. His explanation – that the elephant was killed to feed hungry villagers in Zimbabwe – was met with widespread skepticism.

You can check out the lastest version of SOPA here.

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