Go Daddy gets name off SOPA supporters list

The domain registrar says its company name can no longer be found on a U.S. Congressional list of SOPA supporters. But is that the same as opposing the controversial bill?

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
2 min read

Go Daddy is trying really, really hard to distance itself from the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The domain registrar today announced that its name is no longer on a U.S. Congressional list of SOPA supporters. That's right: Go Daddy is announcing that its name has been removed from a list. But it's not just any list to Go Daddy. The company's off-and-on love affair with SOPA is having a profound impact on its operation. And at this point, even saying that it's not on a list is important for the company.

SOPA, which was introduced in late October by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), could pave the way for the U.S. Justice Department to easily obtain an order that would help it virtually eliminate Web sites alleged to contain pirated content from the Internet.

Major technology companies including Comcast, Dell, and Sony support SOPA. Online giants Google, Facebook, and Twitter are among the companies that stand in opposition to the bill. But as a domain registrar, Go Daddy sits at the crossroads of the debate over the legality of the act.

Unfortunately for Go Daddy, however, many of its customers feel that it has been on the wrong side of the debate. Since SOPA's unveiling, the registrar spoke publicly and wrote blog posts outlining its support for the bill. In response, several notable companies, including Cheezburger Inc. of icanhascheezburger.com fame, and even Wikipedia have started to pull away from Go Daddy due to the registrar's stance.

Seeing the writing on the wall, Go Daddy announced late last week that it no longer supports SOPA, saying that Congress could "clearly do better" at fighting online piracy. (Yesterday, Go Daddy also said that it does not support the related Protect IP Act.)

But that wasn't the end of the story. For one thing, the company seemed decidedly unconvincing in its statement on SOPA, indicating that it could, potentially, be swayed to support it again if the wider Internet community--which has decried the bill--changes its mind.

"It's very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this," Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman said in a statement late last week on Internet piracy. "Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it."

The registrar has also been on radio silence in response to a question posed by CNET yesterday, asking whether it now actually, actively opposes SOPA. Saying it wants to do a better job of fighting online piracy and getting its name removed from a list, after all, are arguably rather passive.

Regardless, the damage has been done. A massive protest thread has exploded on Reddit, the company lost over 21,000 domains in just one day last week, and its top competitors are circling. Whether a change in tune at this point will even matter is up for debate.

GoDaddy has not immediately responded to CNET's request for comment on its stance on SOPA.