Faced with boycott threats, domain registrar GoDaddy said this afternoon that it no longer backs the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act.
"Fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance, which is why Go Daddy has been working to help craft revisions to this legislation -- but we can clearly do better," CEO Warren Adelman said in a statement.
That stance marks a significant change from October, when the bill was introduced, as well as from yesterday, when GoDaddy posted a blog entry explaining why it supported the measure.
GoDaddy also made the questionable decision to remove its prior blog posts outlining its support for the measure. The company said it did so in order “to eliminate any confusion.” But surely the company could have accomplished that without scrubbing its old posts.
Regardless, GoDaddy's prior views are a matter of public record. Just yesterday the company said: “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. 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.”
That stance provoked a wave of criticism from Web companies. Among others, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales tweeted, “I am proud to announce that the Wikipedia domain names will move away from GoDaddy. Their position on #sopa is unacceptable to us.”
Ben Huh, CEO Ben Huh of Cheezburger, likewise tweeted the company would abandon GoDaddy over the issue. “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,” he wrote.
The Hollywood-backed SOPA provides for court orders banning ad networks and payment processors from doing business with “rogue” sites -- defined as sites dedicated to infringement. The proposal also provides for court orders banning search engines from returning certain results, and orders banning Internet service providers from putting traffic through to certain URLs.
Movie studios, record labels and others argue that the law will help stem infringement, particularly by companies that operate outside the U.S.
But numerous Web companies (including Google and Facebook), Internet engineers, law professors and digital rights advocates, say the legislation won't curb piracy and can cause significant damage. Critics point out that even if ISPs filtered out domains, users could still reach the sites by typing in the numeric IP addresses. Users also could access IP addresses through servers located outside the U.S.