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Internet uproar forces GoDaddy flip-flop on SOPA support

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GoDaddy is no longer supporting SOPA. It's sticking with Danica Patrick, however. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Internet registrar GoDaddy was one of the big proponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) — opposed to the likes of Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Twitter — but now it suddenly isn't. Why? Simple: GoDaddy's stance toward SOPA was seriously threatening its bottom line.

It was a victory for the anti-SOPA contingent. This is from VentureBeat:

As one of the largest domain registrars, Go Daddy’s support of SOPA was extremely alarming to many people and companies with a strong presence on the internet because it could make de-indexing domain names much easier.

Talk of a Go Daddy boycott began yesterday on community link sharing site Reddit, and quickly grew to include several influential business leaders and media personalities. Among them were Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh and celebrity/investor Ashton Kutcher.

The company initially shrugged off the protests, issuing a nonchalant response to let people know it hasn’t negatively impacted its business — which was the equivalent of shaking the hell out of a giant beehive and not expecting to get stung. Boycott participators responded by publishing step-by-step tutorials for transferring a bulk of domains to a new registrar, complete with recommendations to competitors.

VentureBeat reposted GoDaddy's statement on the matter, which was a masterpiece of misdirection. The message isn't that GoDaddy freaked out, but rather that the company just couldn't get the changes it wanted to the legislation and therefore has entirely recanted its support — right down to the content it produced to make the case for SOPA:

In changing its position, Go Daddy remains steadfast in its promise to support security and stability of the Internet. In an effort to eliminate any confusion about its reversal on SOPA though, [General Counsel Christine] Jones has removed blog postings that had outlined areas of the bill Go Daddy did support.

GoDaddy was evidently up against a much more robust, Internet version of Bank Transfer Day (the latter was an Occupy Movement initiative to get people to take their money out of big banks and switch to regional banks and credit unions). At PC World, Ian Paul details some domain registrars that folks might want to move to (he evidently posted in this before GoDaddy bailed out on SOPA). 

At Gizmodo, Casey Chan offers a more aggressive point of view:

If a sleazeball company like GoDaddy can ditch SOPA because of pressure from the Internet, you bet other companies currently supporting SOPA will cave too.

The question now is whether support for SOPA is falling apart under fairly recent, but relentless, online pressure, or whether the legislation's advocates will be able to power through the opposition.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to SOPA as the Stop Online Privacy Act. It's, of course, the Stop Online Piracy Act. Thanks to our commenters for pointing out the error.

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