Even though it recanted (somewhat unconvincingly) its support of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), domain registrar GoDaddy continues to lose thousands of domains as an online campaign to punish GoDaddy is proving highly effective.
The boycott campaign began on reddit on December 22. A day later GoDaddy announced its withdrawal of support for the House legislation it actually helped craft.
And still GoDaddy has lost more than 70,000 domains in less than a week, with the prospect of more if the reddit-inspired day of boycott set for December 29 goes off as planned.
Make no mistake: The boycott's impact on GoDaddy is minimal at the moment. With more than 50 million domains under its management (according to GoDaddy, anyway), 70,000 domains is a little more than a tenth of one percent of the total.
But what if that 70,000 grows to 700,000, or 1 million? That's what GoDaddy is reacting to, because the Achilles heel of nearly every Internet company is the low barrier to switching. Online consumers have an inordinate amount of power, because they have to ability to just walk away.
Unlike utility companies that charge hefty termination fees or require contracts, Internet companies must constantly be on guard against offending or outraging customers, because if there are viable alternatives available, the customers will walk.
Just look what happened to Netflix this year when it announced a 60% price hike. Or Digg when it unveiled an unpopular redesign. Or Myspace when Facebook gave users a more satisfying experience.
Transferring a domain is a hassle, but it's a low barrier in the big picture, especially if you're fueled by anger and outrage. The problem for GoDaddy is its abandonment of SOPA is reactive and transparently insincere.
“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,” said GoDaddy CEO Warren Adelman in a statement. “It’s very important that all Internet stakeholders work together on this. Getting it right is worth the wait. Go Daddy will support it when and if the Internet community supports it.”
So worth the wait that GoDaddy was lobbying for passage of the bill it helped craft even though the legislation actually didn't "get it right"! Way to stick up for us against this intrusive and abusive legislation, GoDaddy!
SOPA would empower the U.S. Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders blocking payment processors and online ad networks from conducting business with foreign sites suspected of copyright infringement.
It also would allow the DoJ to seek court orders barring search engines from linking to sites reportedly posting copyrighted content, as well as forcing domain registrars and ISPs to block access to such sites.
It's probably shouldn't be a surprise that GoDaddy appears to have been singled out for punishment by opponents of SOPA, since it's so easy to punish an Internet company. Here's a list of the other companies that SOPA opponents want boycotted.
Among the unsurprising on the list are Time Warner, Wal-Mart, Sony Music Entertainment and CBS. But what are Taylor Guitars and Tiffany doing there? Newt, can you put in a word with your friends at Tiffany?