The battle for the Internet as we know it has heated up yet again, as the lines between those who support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is being currently debated in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and those who oppose it become ever clearer.
The series of laws referred to as SOPA could potentially bring about sweeping change to how the Internet functions. If SOPA passes through Congress, regulation of copyright laws for material on the Web would be more much more stringently enforced. Entire domains could be blocked if even one post contains copyrighted material.
Lists have been compiled of those Internet companies and media outlets who stand against SOPA, and those who stand for it. (Let us know if you're for or against.) Among those against are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, PayPal, Ebay, FourSquare, Wikipedia, and Kickstarter. Those for SOPA include Go Daddy, ABC, Disney, and Time Warner.
Thursday saw the CEO of Cheezburger, a network of popular humor sites, publically call out its Web host Go Daddy, regarding the latter's support of SOPA. Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh told Go Daddy via his Twitter account that if it continued in its support of SOPA, he would take his 1,000 domains, and 1.5 million hits per day, to another host.
Go Daddy responded to the protests of Huh, and others up in arms over the company's support of SOPA, via a statement Thursday.
"The debate about the contents of this bill," said Go Daddy in its statement, "and its companion bill in the Senate, the PROTECT IP Act, has been heated in recent weeks, as companies within the Internet ecosystem have rallied to lobby against the passage of legislation which might hold us accountable. That myopic view has never been shared by Go Daddy."
Go Daddy is right about one thing, in that the debate has been extremely heated. Startup funding firm Y Combinator has banned any company that supports SOPA from its YC Demo Day, scheduled for March 27, 2012, calling for venture firms to boycott any affiliate that supports the law. Document-sharing website Scribd has also staged a protest of the bill last Wednesday, by causing words to disappear from every document in its system as a creative demonstration of what the bill could enact.
At least one voice has emerged, a blogger for online real estate brokerage firm Redfin, to call for slightly less scorched earth tactics in the protest of SOPA. However, those who oppose SOPA have made the point that they didn't start this fight, that the potential changes to how the Internet works in our current SOPA-less world are so great that drastic measures are appropriate.
If there's one thing the Internet is good at, it's finding something to fight about. And its increasingly looking like SOPA may just be the biggest Web grudge match yet.