Internet Governance

ServInt, GoDaddy, SOPA and the Fight to Save the Internet

by Reed Caldwell  • 

attack-poster09In the wake of a well-publicized boycott campaign against GoDaddy, hosting providers are racing to try to come up with their stances against SOPA. I am proud that we don’t need to do that. Our stance on SOPA, its sister bill PIPA, and the bill from whence they both came COICA, is well known. We have spent much of the last year not just railing against these bills but trying to do something about them.

The well-intentioned goal of SOPA is to go after piracy, which is noble and very important. But piracy is something that needs to be handled smartly, with a laser-focus. SOPA isn’t a laser, it’s a wrecking ball that if enacted is likely to destroy hard-working legitimate businesses more frequently than it does pirates. SOPA allows people merely accused of ‘contributing to infringement’ to have their business taken from them. Pirates will maintain back-up plans in case they get their resources pulled – it’s legitimate businesses that will suffer most. SOPA will be used for censorship and as an anti-competitive tool. It will stifle innovation, and is one of the most dangerous bills I have seen in my two decades in this industry.

At ServInt we don’t really sell consumer-grade products. We provide services to businesses – innovators – and we’ve done so for 17 years. Our clients expect exceptional service from us, and we work hard to make sure they get it. Our goal is to win people over by being the smartest hosting provider out there – and part of being smart is looking out for looming threats and making sure that our customers don’t hit any unforeseen icebergs. We saw the COICA/PIPA/SOPA iceberg looming long ago.

Since then we’ve been trying to enact change and raise awareness. Our COO, Christian Dawson, was instrumental in founding the Save Hosting Coalition to engage Congress about bills like these, and to attempt to find a better way to address piracy. Through this group, Christian has accomplished a lot – meetings with key Congressmen regarding the flaws of SOPA and PIPA, hundreds of signatures of powerful business leaders on petitions opposing this legislation, a National advertising campaign against the bills (Attack of the Internet Killers), and a press conference outside the doors of the first SOPA judiciary hearing, protesting that no representatives from the Internet industry, save a nontechnical representative from Google, were allowed to testify.

Christian has been meeting with Senator Ron Wyden’s staff, as well as those of Sens. Cantwell, Moran, Warner, Ayotte, Blunt & Heller. He is meeting with Senator Moran’s staff once again this week to go over the alternative “OPEN Act” authored by Sens. Cantwell, Moran, Warner and Wyden and Representatives Lofgren, Chaffetz, Campbell, Doggett, Eshoo, Polis, and Issa. The OPEN act isn’t perfect, but its authors are listening when the SOPA authors are not. Christian is engaged in a long conversation with Rep. Chaffetz about SOPA and OPEN.

We believe in doing more than making statements around here; we believe in action.

As far as GoDaddy goes, they have done the right thing and pulled their sponsorship of SOPA. Their official removal from the supporters list just went through.

Good for them! We do not, and would not, support a boycott of a fellow Internet infrastructure provider. That being said, we welcome them to the side of those who oppose SOPA, and hope that they will engage with the rest of our industry to find better solutions to piracy than SOPA that will protect an open Internet, and American innovators.

One more note – PIPA, in the Senate, is no better a bill – so when lobbyists start spinning that they’ll give up on SOPA if the ‘kinder, gentler’ PIPA can pass, don’t buy it. It’s a ‘bait and switch’ tactic. We can do better. And ServInt is fighting to make sure we do.

Reed Caldwell is CEO and Founder of ServInt, an innovative web hosting provider that helps businesses grow. He formed the company in 1995 and had something like SOPA existed then, it likely would never have gotten off the ground. Reed offers the coupon code ‘KEEPTHEINTERNETOPEN’ to any innovator who wants to come see what smart web hosting is all about.


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  1. Fritz- Sorry for the delay. I just emailed you a lengthy explaination of how our industry works and the problem SOPA poses as I see it. My contact info was attached. Let me know how I can help. Sid
    Darin 'Sid' Cameron /
  2. Darin -- I'm very interested in learning more about your concerns regarding SOPA/PIPA and web-based realtor systems like the MLS. I'd love to spend a few minutes with you on the phone, or perhaps exchange e-mails, to understand the situation better. Christian Dawson, our COO, is our resident SOPA expert, but he's out of town speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show. I don't want to let this wait any longer than it already has, and I think a quick preliminary exchange would help get us on the right track together. You bet we're interested in helping the NAR understand the dangers this legislation poses! Thanks for your inquiry, Fritz Stolzenbach VP, Marketing & Business Development fstolzenbach(at)
    Fritz Stolzenbach /
  3. Reed- I'm a real estate broker and ServInt customer. The more I read about SOPA/PIPA the more I'm becoming alarmed about what it means to the real estate data on my website- which is an unmoderated data feed (called an IDX) originating from my association's MLS with listing content uploaded by thousands of other agents. However I'm asking people within our association if anyone is looking over these bills to see what they mean to our industry and it's becoming apparent that no one has. Can you help me articulate the messsage on what this might mean to the real estate industry? So you know, the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) is America's largest trade association with 1.1 million members. It is extremely good at rallying the troups to apply political pressure when legislation threatens our industry. Thank you in advance for your help.
    Darin Cameron /
  4. Very encouraged to hear you oppose SOPA and are working to bring sanity and reason to legislators. I sure hope they listen!
  5. I agree with your opposition to SOPA and appreciate that you have taken a public stand against it. Thank you.
    Cheryl Ferraro /
  6. Thanks Reed for posting this. Have followed Christian's involvement in SHC and appreciate your willingness to have him spend "company time" in pursuit of its goals. Just another reason we will celebrate 8 years with ServInt in March.
Reed Caldwell

Reed Caldwell

Chief Executive Officer, ServInt

Reed Caldwell is the founder and CEO of ServInt. Founded in 1995, ServInt has since expanded its network nationwide with data centers in Los Angeles, Northern Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Caldwell’s vision and leadership have led ServInt to become one of the most successful privately held hosting companies in the U.S. Reed is a member of San Diego Social Venture Partners (SDSVP) and a Strategic Advisor for the Equinox Center in San Diego. Reed is an active venture philanthropist and lives in Southern California.

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