Anonymous launches Netflix boycott over its support of SOPA

Netflix trades in films and TV shows, so it’s not exactly shocking that it would join the entertainment industry in supporting the totalitarian and draconian SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) legislation. This move is just another in a long line of recent missteps (Qwikster, price increases) for the Los Gatos-based streaming media service.

Yet, Netflix came to prominence as the scrappy underdog, almost single-handedly rendering Blockbuster’s business model obsolete; in the process demonstrating how entertainment products could be distributed more efficiently. The company’s streaming service also pointed to a future in which DVDs and Blu-ray will not be the dominant format.

Now, however, Netflix has created a political action committee (PAC) called FLIXPAC, which Netflix CEO Reed Hastings claims is for the express purpose of funding politicians who understand their “business and technology,” while also engaging in issues such as  “network neutrality, bandwidth caps, usage based billing and reforming the Video Privacy Protection Act.”

While network neutrality is a serious issue for Netflix—the company has battled conglomerates like Comcast over bandwidth, for instance—ne needn’t be particularly perceptive to see the move for what it really is: Netflix, in an attempt to increase its streaming filmed content, is signaling to the Hollywood gatekeepers that the company is fully anti-piracy. Anything less than full support of SOPA would necessarily subvert Netflix’s business model. At the very least, this move will now make negotiations with Hollywood studios over new and constant streaming content a fair bit easier.

Should Netflix expect a backlash? Of course. Anonymous has already called for a Netflix boycott, and other anti-SOPA groups probably already share the sentiment. And, as always, there are rumblings of a Reddit boycott, too.

The difference this time is that whereas Qwikster and price increases were correctable, Netflix’s support of SOPA is not—it is caught in a catch-22 in which it can choose to further alienate the anti-SOPA contingent or risk pissing off Hollywood. Either way, the future looks rather bleak for Netflix.