January 4, 2012 | By Kellie Brownell and rainey Reitman

Companies Compete on Free Expression

Businesses have long known that offering better service and cheaper prices can lure customers, but many of today’s Internet companies are now learning that a commitment to free expression can also be a distinct market advantage. Namecheap saw clear evidence of this last week with their anti-SOPA campaign, in which discounted rates on domain transfers coupled with a $2 donation to support EFF’s efforts to fight the Internet blacklist legislation garnered Namecheap 32,000 new domains in under 2 days. That’s a lot of new customers drawn by a company’s stance on free speech. 

And now we’re seeing a slew of companies inspired by Namecheap who are proving to current and potential customers that they oppose Congress’ misguided censorship bills just as much as any Redditor. Many of those companies are offering discounts to anti-SOPA activists and donations to nonprofits like EFF who are working hard to fight that dangerous legislation--or in the case of Jinx, selling a "Say No to SOPA" shirt. In addition to helping support our fight, tying a charity into anti-SOPA promotions should increase companies’ bottom lines. Studies have shown that customers are far more generous if a portion of their purchase goes to a charity.

When companies compete on free expression – whether defending customers’ speech rights or opposing misguided censorship legislation like the blacklist bills –everybody wins. It increases customer loyalty, draws news customers, helps Congress know the views of tech companies, and helps us defeat policies that would hamper innovation and expression. We’re hoping to see more and more companies jump on the free expression bandwagon. Here are a few publicly opposing SOPA/PIPA:

  • Suspicious Networks NS1.net is running an anti-SOPA campaign that includes a discount and $2 donation to EFF per domain transferred! The company describes itself as "a no frills domain registration & small business IT solutions provider striving to support an open, fully decentralized Internet."  The campaign runs until Valentine's Day 2012 or the blacklist legislation is defeated, whichever happens first. Check out their transfer page, which includes Suspicious Networks’ opposition to SOPA and PIPA. You can also follow them on Twitter.
  • Centuric (offer updated) is offering up to 1,000 reduced $3.99 transfer fees on domain registrations beginning December 29, 2011 -- $1 of which will be donated to EFF. Use the promotional code: SAYNOTOSOPA. Read the press statement.
  • Uservoice provides hosted feedback forums that allow customers to create, discuss, and vote for ideas. Uservoice is taking a stand against Internet censorship by offering new customers 40% off the first six months of ANY UserVoice Full Service plan and donating 10% of all such proceeds to EFF! Just use the discount code "no2sopa" between now and January 12, 2012. You can also follow Uservoice on Twitter.
  • ReferralCandy, from Anafore, helps companies reward customers who bring in referral business. They hate SOPA so much that from now until January 24th, if you sign up for a ReferralCandy account using this link, they’ll donate 60% of your first month’s bill to EFF. You’ll also get store credit for the remaining 40% for showing your support. Follow ReferralCandy on Twitter.
  • DreamHost is donating $1 to EFF for every customer who uses the promo code SOPAROPA. DreamHost launched its promotion on December 22nd after publishing this popular post: "Don't Drop the Soap, Drop SOPA!" You can save $50.00 when you prepay for one year of shared web hosting and get four free domain registrations (.com, .net, .org or .info ) for the life of your hosting plan. DreamHost has long had a philanthropic streak -- they offer all non-profit organizations free web hosting.

UPDATE (12/29): one more company join the campaign.

  • Reverse Robocall is a new service that allows customers to record a messages and automatically send it to representatives sponsoring SOPA.  For every package purchased, EFF gets 20% percent of the proceeds. In addition to delivering your message to multiple phone numbers or offices, Reverse Robocall  asks if you want to post your message online to social networks and the greater world.

Are you a company running a similar campaign? Email kellie@eff.org.


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