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Heritage Foundation, GoDaddy and Ashton Kutcher All Join Anti-SOPA List

Posted by: , 18:16 AEDT, Sat December 24, 2011
Tags: Copyright

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What does a conservative think-tank, a domain name registrar and a Hollywood actor have in common?

A web campaign that could have seen domain registrar GoDaddy lose thousands of customers has successfully convinced the company to back down from supporting the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), as the anti-SOPA brigade welcome a few other influential members, including an unexpected one.

GoDaddy previously filed a statement of support for SOPA, stating that "SOPA is a needed tool to get the ball moving."

This angered the wider Net community, culminating in a post on popular Internet forum Reddit (coincidentally, a website whose very existence will be threatened under SOPA), in which user "selfprodigy" threatened to move 51 domains registered with GoDaddy to another domain name provider on the 29th of December, and asked others to join in.

And join in they did, including some of the biggest names on the Internet. Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger, was one of the first to join the campaign, threatening to move the 1,000+ domain names currently owned by his company. And when web giant Wikipedia chimed in, with founder Jimmy Wales tweetinghis disapproval of GoDaddy's position (Wikipedia may also plan other anti-SOPA actions), GoDaddy relented.

"Looking at this over the last 20 hours, we're not seeing consensus in the Internet community, we're hearing the feedback from our customers," commented GoDaddy's CEO Warren Adelman, as he signals his company's withdraw of support for SOPA, at least in its current form.

Also joining the list of companies and organisations opposed to SOPA is the conservative think-tank, the Heritage Foundation. The usually heavily pro-copyright group, previously advocating for lawsuits against P2P users and the sabotage of P2P networks, has come out attacking SOPA for its DNS and search engine result provisions, which the group opposes on the grounds that the government should not be granted such wide ranging powers.

"The areas that are the most concern are the obligation of service providers to block resolution of IP addresses and the obligation of search engines to block search results," says Heritage's senior research fellow in regulatory policy, James Gattuso. "Those get to the core issue of why the federal government could be able to interfere with the way the Internet is operated, and the core issue of what people can say and what information they can get on the Web."

The involvement of the Heritage Foundation could force Republicans in the house to re-think their support for SOPA, as the group holds tremendous influence within conservative circles in Washington, having recently co-hosted a Republican Party presidential candidates' debate on foreign policy and national defense.

Perhaps less influential amongst conservatives is Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, who has also come out protesting SOPA. Posting on his blog in an article titled SOPA Is The Problem And Not The Solution, Kutcher, who has been involved with Internet start-ups himself, says the cost of complying with SOPA could seriously hamper innovation in the tech sector.

"Forcing social media sites and ISP's responsible for users content is amazingly burdensome and costly. SOPA will create economic problems for Internet start-ups which will be an additional negative side effect. This may cause a slow down in the Internet economic sector, which is providing real jobs and innovation for the US economy," wrote Kutcher, before adding "Placing search engines and ISP's in the middle of policing for piracy is plain and simply a bad and confused attempt by well meaning people that fundamentally don't understand how the the Internet works."

Congress has delayed any vote on SOPA until early next year, with the Senate proposing a vote on the similar Protect IP Act at around the same time.


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