The first casualty of the SOPA war is the internet itself

23 Dec 2011

The internet industry as we know it – from the US perspective – is in the middle of a damaging civil war thanks to the deep divisions caused by the Stop Online Piracy Act.

Battle lines are being drawn between those who support the controversial legislation and those that don’t.

While to all intents and purposes SOPA represents a battle between old media (the record labels, TV studios and Hollywood) on one side and new media (internet giants like YouTube, Google, AOL, Twitter et al), the first casualty of this war is the internet industry itself.

Internet domain registering business GoDaddy has so far caused the deepest division in internet industry ranks by being pro-SOPA, leading to calls for mass-boycott of its service by top web entrepreneurs, including Ben Huh, founder of Cheezburger.

In recent days document sharing site Scribd protested against SOPA by making billions of pages on its servers disappear to demonstrate the potential effect of the SOPA legislation when enacted.

As Google’s Sergey Brin pointed out in recent days, SOPA could have a “chilling effect” on innovation.

And in the most recent development, top Silicon Valley accelerator boot camp Y Combinator has decided not to invite companies that are pro-SOPA to its demo day.

They say the first casualty of war is innocence. In this particular war, the first casualty is the internet industry itself, which could end up tearing itself apart over this issue.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years