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Ben Huh: If Go Daddy supports SOPA, Cheezburger will take its business elsewhere
A significant statement was made Thursday by Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh against the continuing campaign by U.S. lawmakers to regulate Internet content, through the much-publicized Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently being debated in the House Judiciary Committee.
Huh's statement was directed at Go Daddy, the Web hosting company managing the Cheezburger network. "We will move our 1,000 domains off of @godaddy unless you drop support of SOPA. We love you guys, but SOPA -is- cancer to the Free Web," said Huh via his Twitter account.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, and/or haven't been online or seen the news for the past three months, and thus are unfamiliar with this little thing called SOPA, the bill, which was introduced on Oct. 26 of this year by Lamar Smith (R-TX), calls for wide-sweeping changes to the ways that copyright laws are enforced on the Internet.
Any website that infringes upon the U.S. government's definition of copyright law would be subject to lawsuits, and could be prevented from being found in web searches and from earning ad revenue, and in some cases could be blocked by Internet service providers. Those who oppose SOPA -- which include among them many of the best and brightest of the Web -- argue that said legislation would subvert First Amendment protection and significantly alter the Internet that we all know and love.
The long and the short of it is, people who know what the Internet is all about are very afraid about what this law could do.
The Stanford Law Review, in its post about SOPA entitled "Don't Break the Internet," may have put it best: "Directing the remedial power of the courts towards the Internet’s core technical infrastructure in this sledgehammer fashion has impact far beyond intellectual property rights enforcement—it threatens the fundamental principle of interconnectivity that is at the very heart of the Internet."
What these Stanford professors refer to as "interconnectivity" has huge implications in the world of startups, as many innovative sites just starting out will not want to risk running afoul of SOPA's more stringent laws. Wiggle room and gray areas in existing legislation concerning online spaces are an important aspect of drawing traffic to new startups.
For example YouTube started gaining more traffic when it started showing old Saturday Night Live clips, material which is copyrighted to NBC, and which now has been (probably rightly) banned from YouTube, but which was important in first getting people's eyes on their site.
There is a lot more to read on this subject, as lawmakers continue to hash out the ins and outs of this new law, and eventually vote on it. Battle lines will continue to be drawn on either side. For my own part, while I agree that some regulation concerning copyright could stand to be enacted, the negative implications of this particular set of laws seem fairly clear.
[Image Source: Gizmodo]
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