As GoDaddy Deals With SOPA Fallout, Hollywood Wants To Punish GoDaddy For Enabling Infringement

from the as-the-godaddy-turns dept

We've always been a bit baffled by GoDaddy's original support of COICA/PIPA/SOPA. As we noted in the fall, under the original definitions in SOPA, GoDaddy itself was almost certainly a rogue site. If you do searches on various trademarks, its recommendation engine certainly appeared to facilitate infringement by suggesting possible domains that would likely be infringing. What I actually forgot was that GoDaddy was already being sued over this very issue (which, you would think would make its legal team hyper-aware of this issue), and (even better) that lawsuit is coming from Hollywood, its main partner in pushing SOPA/PIPA through Congress.

Yes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), better known as the folks behind the Academy Awards (the Oscars), launched a lawsuit against GoDaddy back in May of 2010 over this very issue. And, just last week, as GoDaddy was coming to terms with the complaints from the public, AMPAS was in court trying to force GoDaddy founder and ex-CEO Bob Parsons to give a deposition about the company's practices.

The article linked above, by Eriq Gardner at THResq, notes that many people believe that the completely mixed messages come from Parsons'... unique style of managing the company:
... in advance of a February cut-off date for discovery, AMPAS wishes to depose Parsons, whose “fingerprints are all over GoDaddy’s domain name monetization programs,” according to the brief.

And in the process, perhaps get some answers about why Parsons has seemingly been two-faced on the piracy front.

One example given is a post that Parsons wrote for his personal blog. In it, Parsons takes issue with the practice known as “kiting,” where registrars take advantage of a 5-day grace period to put up mini-Web sites loaded with search engine bait. Later, on his blog, Parsons discussed a trademark lawsuit against Dotster – “a registrar who hasn’t exactly been a stranger to domain kiting,” he said – for registering many misspellings of trademarked names, and associating them with search engine pages.

“This is exactly AMPAS’s complaint in this case,” says the plaintiff. “That its marks are famous and well-known; that GoDaddy monetizes domain names incorporating AMPAS’s trademarks – having received 60 cease/desist letters from AMPAS – yet continues to park domain names incorporating AMPAS’s marks.”
Now, as I stated when AMPAS filed the lawsuit, this case seems pretty ridiculous, and it seems pointless to blame GoDaddy for the actions of its users registering these domains -- even if (as the lawsuit contends), GoDaddy makes money from people parking these domains. We called it "absurd" at the time... and we stand by it.

But it's even more absurd in the context of SOPA/PIPA. You would think that, being subject to such absurd lawsuits over enabling infringement (oh, and don't forget the other similar lawsuit against GoDaddy from the Michael Jackson estate...), the company would be extra sensitive to laws that would put it at greater risk. It really calls into question what people are thinking over there, even if they have "backed down" from their support of the bills.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:45am

    Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

     

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  2.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    Once again

    It may be clear that GoDaddy makes money from these sites - but it isn't clear how (or even that) the plaintiffs actually lose anything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    SUNWARD (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:52am

    liability

    SOPA gave ISP and companies like godaddy blanket immunity if they took down a site on after a complaint.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Maybe Daddy was hoping that if they trumpeted their SOPA support the lawsuits would go away. They forgot that you should never expect compassionate behavior out of a snake.

     

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  5.  
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    Machin Shin, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:58am

    Damned from supporting SOPA yeah

    You seem to be missing the point. It is not a case of damned if you do damned if you don't. It is more a case of those who try to be on both sides of a fight will ALWAYS get burned.

    They were fighting Hollywood and were I guess trying to go with the "Can't beat them join them" idea. The problem is that changing sides like that caused them to loose the support of everyone who is against SOPA. So now they back down but that still has them facing Hollywood. Whats worse is now that they have a history of flipping sides they will be attacked by both.

    They never should have tried snuggling up to Hollywood. Now they have to pay the price for their mistakes.

     

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  6.  
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    MrWilson, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 9:59am

    I wonder if GoDaddy's support of SOPA was an attempt to curry favor with Hollywood to get the lawsuit dropped.

     

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  7.  
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    Machin Shin, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:00am

    Re:

    They also underestimated backlash from supporting SOPA. Now that they were forced to back down from supporting SOPA they can no longer try to use that support as a shield.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    Correction: they should never expect compassion out of a bunch of IP lawyers. Snakes at least have an antivenom.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    If it helps stop the criminals Godaddy are, then good. Bad practice but Godaddy have been screwing their users for years (stealing domain names, suspending for no reason, etc) and it's time someone puts a stop to it. Sadly, it has to be BS charges from a shady lawsuit... oh well, we'll take what we can get.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:12am

    Re: Once again

    Doesn't matter that they "actually lose anything". Godaddy puts their own publicity on expired, seized (by them for tons of reasons), suspended or under construction domains. They use the domain to make money, period. And that's what it's about.

     

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  11.  
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    Kevin H (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Re: liability

    you should go back and re-read the posts on this. Besides GoDaddy was exempt from that to begin with. Not to mention that its not quite as simple as just hitting a button to make it all go away. Not to mention the free speech implications (which is our number one complaint anyway).

     

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  12.  
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    Kevin H (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Re:

    I think they were trying to keep their money making practices in play. I also think that they offered support in order to secure that immunity from the bill ramifications as a sort of shield for the legal battlefield SOPA is going to create.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    "They forgot that you should never expect compassionate behavior out of a snake."

    TAKE BACK THIS STATEMENT AT ONCE!!! I find it an insult to snakes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    GoDaddy fellates equines and reptiles

    And they do it all day, every day, shamelessly, and with no remorse. They need to die.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:29am

    This is one of those stories that makes me shake my head, because it shows how screwed up Mike's view of the world is.

    The real world isn't "all good or all bad", there is plenty of action going on in both directs, plenty of good and bad in everything. What GoDaddy does in allowing trademark infringers to monetize domains is truly a questionable concept. The monetization of parked domains is important to Godaddy, a business that essentially lets a sucker take a risk on a domain, and GD makes 50% of the profits for little cost. Getting pushed out of that market, or ending up liable for the sort of domains making the money would be a real issue for them.

    Their support for SOPA doesn't give them a free pass on other issues with the MPAA. Wake up Mike, the real world isn't black and white.

     

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  16.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Re: GoDaddy fellates equines and reptiles

    I agree heartily, but cannot bring myself to mark this either insightful or funny.
    (sorry)

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re:

    I've already been corrected on this; the IP lawyer analogy is much more fitting.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    Re:

    But an IP address means "you" can be extorted for allegedly downloading a movie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Rich Kulawiec, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:51am

    Ah, but this isn't absurd

    I can't believe I'm about to take the side of anyone or anything connected with Hollywood...but they have a pretty good point here.

    GoDaddy (among other registrars) sells domains in quantity to abusers of various descriptions -- spammers, phishers, scammers, forgers, etc. Abusers buy them in quantity because they burn through them. Thus it makes economic sense for them to register them 500 at a time...a process made easier by bulk registration tools.

    Let's suppose that the abuser-of-the-day has decided to try to use a combination of spamming and phishing techniques to hoodwink victims. And let's suppose they've targeted eBay users. We find that they've registered domains like (and I'm just making these up, although they're similar to ones I've seen and might even be ones I've seen): update-ebay.com, security-ebay.com, ebay-confirm.info, ebay-verify-login.net, myebaysecurity.com and so on. If those actually get used in spam/phish attempts, then they'll get noticed, get blacklisted, get reported, maybe kicked off their host/DNS provider/registrar, etc.

    And then the same abuser will be back to buy 500 more. Which is great news for the registrar, because it makes the cash register ring.

    Now if the registrar was actually serious about putting a stop to this nonsense, there are a bunch of simple, easy, cheap things they could do, starting with "flag any newly-registered domain containing the string 'ebay' for human review before finalizing it". Of course that human would have to have the minimal clue level required to realize that the real eBay is unlikely to have registered a new domain using an email address at Hotmail and a PO Box in Brazil.

    Slightly more sophisticated measures would correlate registrant info and lead quickly to the conclusion that when the same person tries to set up amazon-account.info, paypalfix.com, visacardsetup.net and the like, on the same day, it's very very very unlikely that any of this is actually real. (Note that it's equally easy for a slightly clueful human to distinguish these from protest or satire sites like ebay-sucks.org. The folks engaged in that don't buy 500 domains at a time.)

    Much more sophisticated measures are feasible, by the way: those of us who do anti-spam research use them, and we're not making hundreds of millions of dollars like GoDaddy is. So surely they could afford to hire someone with a little Perl and regular expression savvy to set up some minimal screening. I'm not suggesting that they become the domain name police, but at least not selling more domains to the same people who've already proven they're abusers would be one small step forward.

    Of course...it would decrease revenue, which is why it won't ever happen.

     

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  20.  
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    Richard (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 10:55am

    Re: Re: Once again

    They use the domain to make money, period. And that's what it's about.

    What's wrong with that - last time I looked the letters of the alphabet were free for anyone to make money from.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re:

    Relevance?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    The eejit (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    OH, look at you, hiding behind your cowardly mask, attacking someone in public! Haver you grown out of your little boy-shoes yet?

    GoDaddy have a known history of maintaining the domains of spammers, scammer and malware distributors, and reselling domains two and three times. This is for one thing and one thing alone: profits at the expense of others.

    GoDaddy tried to get an explicit exemption out of Sopa, dso that they could continue their business whilst exterminating the competition in legal costs.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ..and how is your little diatribe relevant to "But an IP address means "you" can be extorted for allegedly downloading a movie."?

    Oh, and you can keep the ad-homs to yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    MonkeyFracasJr (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Once again

    I have to agree with Richard.

    The people using domains that are similar to trademarked domain names are not typically selling product in nature that may be sold by the trademarked domain holders, it is unlikely that consumers would mistake the 'similar' domains and content as that of the trademarked ones. (Those that are trying to actually mimic trademarked domains and content that are clearly in the 'wrong' for trademark infringement.) If the trademarked domain holders are upset that someone is using a similar domain name for OTHER purposes then they should have purchased any domains they felt were "too similar" in order to "protect" their "rights."

    (yes, I put those words in quotes because I probably do not agree with some rights-holder's interperetations of them.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's a reference to your comment "the real world isn't black and white." Those who believe in things like SOPA and suing your fans make the world black and white by saying things like an IP address is proof you were the one who downloaded.

     

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  26.  
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    Danny (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

    An idea...

    You know what would be fin? An OWS style protest outside of the Oscars this year.

    It would drive AMPAS crazy as they are all about image control and news media picking up on the protest and interviewing many people about how Hollywood is anti Internet, anti (fill in the blank) would confound their own tightly managed image control. So they likely would lean on the local police to impinge on the protests, and that would make them anti First Amendemnt. It would all make for very effective street theater; and it might help some in Congress to see there is popular movement not aligned with Hollywood.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 1:29pm

    After the destruction of the first amendment godaddy is reviled for it's part.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    Prior to the uproar about GoDaddy, i had a few domains with them. After i read what could happen with the SOPA act i transferred my domains. Low price domains is having a special if you transfer, you just need to use the Promo code: SOPA . It's cheap and customer support was there to help me with the transfer, cheaper prices than the rest as well! Happy to help!

    here's the website in case you need it!
    lowpricedomains.com/domains/domain-transfer.php

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Bingo!

     

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  30.  
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    Atkray (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Once again

    If the copytard can't make money from it then no one should be allowed to.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 3:35pm

    Re: An idea...

    Excellent idea, see you there?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Glenn, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    I say...

    Boycott the real butts behind SOPA: Hollywood and their ilk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 6:09pm

    This could be awesome!
    Douche Bag wrestling - no holds barred.
    I'll make the pop corn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    IronM@sk, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 8:07pm

    Re: Damned from supporting SOPA yeah

    The problem is that changing sides like that caused them to loose the support of everyone who is against SOPA.

    Sounds like you really need to hang on to your supporters with both hands.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wow, you go a long way to make a point, and the point fails.

    Nothing is black and white. Not even SOPA (no matter how hard Mike tries to push it).

    Suing the fans? Honestly, if they are more interested in boosting their own personal social worth by pirating and making all their friends happy, they aren't really fans, are they? I haven't seen very many cases of super fans getting sued - unless they did something truly stupid.

    Try again... this one failed!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Dec 30th, 2011 @ 4:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, it didn't. You did though, again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 9:30am

    The Future

    In the future avoid the Academy Awards, turn if off or just watch something else. Close some / all of those Movie accounts, why give money to those, to be used against you ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 31st, 2011 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:the point fails.

    Honestly, this "social worth" you talk about isn't a point at all, other then a foot-hold to attack someone over an issue, piracy, that some as Hollywood could have changed their business models years ago -- but have not and it seems they never will to try and do something other then sue and screw up the Internet.


    Good for the super fans ! "I haven't seen very many cases", well I guess that closes that ? Wrong, because haven't been caught doesn't mean a thing ! This is just why SOPA has been drafted to address those that haven't been caught, not YET !
    Honestly, do you really believe in "super fans" to then make a point about who gets sued ?


    Point: Fails !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    HalloweenBlogs (profile), Jan 7th, 2012 @ 11:42am

    Why GoDaddy Wasn't Worried re SOPA

    The reason why GoDaddy wasn't worried about SOPA was because they had spent months helping write the bill, and an amendment had been submitted exempting them from its provisions. So they got to set up the competition for this onerous bill, as well as their customers, and then got themselves exempted from having to obey the same law. Nice, huh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 7th, 2012 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Why GoDaddy Wasn't Worried re SOPA

    It would be interesting to see some documentation behind this assertion. But, if true, then they completely miscalculated what the market push back to them would have been had they been able to carry out that plan.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    HalloweenBlogs (profile), Jan 7th, 2012 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Re: Why GoDaddy Wasn't Worried re SOPA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    todd, Oct 14th, 2012 @ 2:41pm

    freedom

    leave the world wide web unfilterd and not under any government or corparate control

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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