(I had planned to publish this post and its predecessor in January 2012. For reasons that will become clear as you read on, it took over a year to complete the process I began in December 2011. — A. D. C.)
A Go Daddy-Free Zone
Though, as I indicated in an earlier post, we opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill before Congress in late 2011, and its Senate counterpart, the equally dangerous Protect-IP Act (PIPA), webmaster John Alley and I didn’t participate in the one-day January 18th, 2012 protest blackout spearheaded by Wikipedia, Reddit, and Boing Boing. Instead, we busied ourselves with the activities described below.
We also didn’t join the official Go Daddy boycott that ran from December 22-29, 2011 — not because we didn’t support it (we did) but because we couldn’t manage it logistically. Moving a single domain name to a new registrar isn’t that hard; here’s a step-by-step how-to, specific to Go Daddy but applicable to any registrar. (And here’s a more detailed, explanatory one from Glenn Fleishman at Macworld.) But our situation has complications, so we had to assess the available alternative hosts and registrars.
The process gets considerably more involved when you’ve registered, as we have, close to 300 names. It’s more intricate still if, like us, you have an account that covers the hosting of one or more websites. Leaving Go Daddy behind would require literally weeks of effort by webmaster John Alley and myself, plus an astonishing amount of the pixellated equivalent of paperwork. It also would have incurred the expense of paying all at once for domain hosting and domain-name registration of all our domains and names, which we usually do on a staggered schedule — approximately $3000 per annum.
One advantage of working with Go Daddy is that they offer the economy of scale — cheaper domain-name registration and web hosting than we could find from other vendors. Going elsewhere would raise our running costs by something like 20 per cent. So we needed to review our options and reconfigure our budget.
Having done so, then working in increments over the past 14 months, we’ve now moved our website hosting to HostMonster, and most of our registration of domain names to DomainMonster, with a few of those registered (for technical reasons) at Koofoo Domains. Thus I can declare that, officially, this blog, its parent website (The Nearby Café), the three other websites that form the consortium Photo Education Online, and all our domain names collectively have become a Go Daddy-free zone at last. I’ve sent a letter to Go Daddy CEO Warren Adelman detailing the reasons for our actions.
Some argue that, as Go Daddy has reversed its position, withdrawn its support of SOPA, and effectively apologized, they deserve a chance to redeem themselves, and I agree. But the taxpayer monies squandered on SOPA-PIPA, with the encouragement of Go Daddy, remains wasted, and Go Daddy surely has no plans to replace those funds in the government’s coffers. Nor did Go Daddy expend a dime, or actively lend its name, to the fight against SOPA-PIPA.
Even PIPA’s main sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), has basically shelved that misguided bipartisan bill, acknowledging on January 12, 2012 in an official press release that “this is in fact a highly technical issue, and I am prepared to recommend we give it more study before implementing it.” He goes on, “I will therefore propose that the positive and negative effects of this provision be studied before implemented.. . . However, the bill remains a strong and balanced approach to protecting intellectual property through a no-fault, no-liability system that leverages the most relevant players in the Internet ecosystem.” (I realize that the last sentence appears as grammatically correct English, but I have absolutely no idea what it means.)
Furthermore, Go Daddy has not contributed in any way to the development and furtherance of an alternative bill, the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, that takes a much more sane, measured approach to the problem of online piracy and infringement. (Click here for a PDF of a draft, “Fighting the Unauthorized Trade of Digital Goods While Protecting Internet Security, Commerce and Speech,” intended as the basis for public debate of this bill, and click here for keepthewebopen.com, a remarkably savvy site set up as a forum for debate about this bill.) So Go Daddy’s welcome to seek redemption in the eyes of the internet community. Let them do so on someone else’s dime.
Go Daddy’s “Bwana Bob” Parsons
I’d been disturbed by the public actions of ex-CEO Bob Parsons for years: the overweening ego on constant display at his blog, his ongoing effort to get Go Daddy ads featuring big-breasted women into the Superbowl ad lineup. Not incidentally, Go Daddy’s 2005 SuperBowl TV commercial featured the aging, prudish members of a fictitious governmental “Broadcast Censorship Committee,” appalled by the “wardrobe malfunction” of a pulchritudinous young Go Daddy representative appearing as a witness. Yet in flexing his corporate muscle by involving himself in the drafting and marketing of SOPA-PIPA, Parsons opted to hobnob and collude with the very same fossilized Washington types he mocked in that ad. There’s a fine word describing precisely such behavior: hypocrisy.)
Then there are the elephant and leopard killings in Africa. (The elephant killings, by the way, though presented by “Bwana Bob” Parsons as acts of Great White Hunter/White Man’s Burden benevolence, are entirely unnecessary. Here’s a report showing how donation of a small amount of money to set up a simple fence connected to a ring of beehives can effectively keep elephants away. Heedless of that, Parsons conducts his destruction of what he likes to call “problem elephants” annually, in Zimbabwe.)
These self-aggrandizing macho behaviors don’t impinge in any direct way on our sites, but they do suggest a mindset, as does Go Daddy’s work on SOPA. (Go Daddy actually helped craft the bill’s language, under Bob Parsons’s leadership — he turned the reins over to current CEO Warren Adelman only in July 2011 — and, as reward, Go Daddy was made exempt from the bill’s strictures. Ah, the benefits of cronyism. So its complicity runs deep.) More importantly, while I’ll support thoughtful efforts to stop online piracy, SOPA is over the top. (See this assessment of its effects by Mark Lemley, David S. Levine, & David G. Post in the Stanford Law Review.)
The reaction of the internet community was predictable, but Go Daddy clearly didn’t see it coming — which suggests that, even with new CEO Adelman at the wheel, the company is opting to lead (by participating in SOPA) when it should be following. So we thought it time for us to leave, and we did. Go Daddy likely won’t even notice, but we prefer to work with vendors whose policies and practices we can endorse, or that at least don’t offend our sensibilities on so many levels.
Hang ‘Em From the Yardarm
With that said, the cause on behalf of which Go Daddy collaborated in the making of and endorsed SOPA — prevention of internet piracy — is one in which I believe. Misguided though that remedy may be (and Go Daddy’s new opposition thereto hardly killed this bill, nor PIPA, which Go Daddy has yet to oppose), IP theft constitutes a global plague that costs IP makers and rights holders billions each year. I’ve published repeated posts here about my own struggles to prevent web magpies from stealing my own work; my problems in this regard are small-scale compared to what happens to others. Adam C. Engst, editor/publisher of the Mac-specific site Tidbits, speaks eloquently to this issue from the perspective of the small publisher in his January 16, 2012 op-ed, “The Other Side of SOPA and PIPA.”
Ron Paul, bless his libertarian-geezer soul, came out straightforwardly against SOPA — the only Republican presidential candidate to do so. But he’s presented nothing I’ve heard of to engage actively with online piracy. Fact is, no one on the anti-SOPA side of this brouhaha has offered any proposal of any kind aimed at that problem, save for the Larry Lessig-Electronic Freedom Foundation “information wants to be free” crowd, who recommend termination of copyright law as the simple answer to all this fuss they keep hearing about ineffectual puberty rites, and the faux-Proudhon anarchist “property is theft” fringe to their left.
Until they provide some solution to online piracy, they’re part of the problem, and you can have my DMCA when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. I’ll continue to sail the online seas and hang anyone pirating my IP from the virtual yardarm here at Photocritic International. “Arrrrrrr!” yourselves, you swabbies. You’ve been warned.
(Part 1 I 2)
This post supported by a donation from the Estate of Lyle Bongé.