Stop Online Piracy Act Sparks Unity?

December 27, 2011

The Official Merchant Services Blog is back from its brief holiday. Thank you for keeping up with us. We have a couple of treats to share with our readers today, though the posting is going to be brief. Host Merchant Services is gearing up its site and its services for the coming of 2012, including The Official Merchant Services Blog. Expect a return to the fast break pace and full industry coverage next week.

Stop Online Piracy Act

Up first for us is coverage of the Stop Online Piracy Act. You’ll hopefully recall that Host Merchant Services gave an in-depth analysis of the Stop Online Piracy Act a few weeks ago, getting out in front of the coverage of this controversial piece of legislation. What prompted this coverage was that the bill included payment processors in its extremely broad scope of oversight, letting the Department of Justice take action against merchant service providers — or Payment Network Providers as they are described in the bill’s wording — for the reported piracy of that processor’s merchants. This struck a chord with Host Merchant Services and other providers and brought the whole topic of online piracy into the arena of merchant services news.

GoDaddy Reverses Position

Outside of the entertainment industry support for the bill has been minimal. The bill has been soundly thrashed by most tech industry companies, ranging from Adobe to Google — you can read Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt’s comments on the bill here. Apple and Microsoft initially were part of a group that supported the bill, then changed their position quickly when the details of the bill were hashed out in a congressional hearing.

The latest company to do a full 180 on SOPA support is GoDaddy. Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too late. GoDaddy initially came out in favor of the bill, stating that the company opposed Online Piracy and supported the effort to stop this crime through the legislation. That prompted a harsh critical reaction from its customers, many gathering online to organize a boycott of GoDaddy.

GoDaddy relented and changed its position. As this politico.com article reports: “Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman said in a statement that lawmakers can ‘clearly do better,’ even though the company stands by its original position that ‘fighting online piracy is of the utmost importance. 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,’ he continued.”

But the damage has already been done. Much like Bank of America taking a huge PR hit for its reaction to the Durbin Amendment, GoDaddy is now in the spotlight over the Stop Online Piracy Act. The article explains that GoDaddy was in a precarious position on this issue, as they had a vested interest in fighting piracy being a domain registrar: “The fight over Internet piracy has recently put Go Daddy in a precarious position: As a domain registrar with a vested interest in fighting illegal content, it sat opposite of other Internet companies that felt SOPA and the Protect IP Act threatened the Internet’s backbone.”

‘Unlikely Allies’

In one of the stranger developments linked to SOPA, it appears that the bill is acting as a unifying force for liberals and conservatives. According to this ology.com article Republicans and Democrats are banding together in their criticism of SOPA and becoming “unlikely allies.”

The bill, which was authored by Republican Lamar Smith does have some strong proponents besides just the Hollywood and the Recording Industry. The Better Business Bureau and various Chambers of Commerce back the bill on the very simple premise that online piracy is a serious issue and the crime is hurting businesses in the U.S. But as the article points out, the issue is deeper than that and has created allies among Republicans and Democrats: “The ‘netroots’ conservatives opposed to SOPA have some unlikely allies in liberal and libertarian bloggers. In the end, the battle over SOPA is as clear a case of big industry versus the little guy as there has been in recent years. As politics makes a turn toward the populist ahead of the “great recession” it is highly unlikely that the big studios will achieve a legislative victory here.”

Stay Up To Date on SOPA

The bill itself is currently tabled by Congress and likely won’t be dealt with until 2012. But you can keep up with the latest developments by continuing to follow the coverage Host Merchant Services. Also this google+ feed can be quite informative too: #SOPA

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