Could Antigua Use Free Music To Retaliate Against The US?

from the the-new-weapon-of-choice dept

The US and the tiny island nation of Antigua have been fighting it out in the WTO over online gambling laws for quite some time. It started years ago, with the US trying to go after someone for setting up an online gambling operation in Antigua. The US government, of course, is no fan of online gambling — even though it’s legal in large parts of the world. Things got ugly three years ago, when Antigua went to the WTO to protest the US’s actions, noting that it appeared to violate a fair-trade agreement both countries had signed — especially since the US does allow some forms of domestic online gambling. The WTO agreed with Antigua that the US was violating the agreement — a decision we noted the US was likely to ignore completely. Indeed, that’s exactly what they did, so Antigua went back to the WTO, who once again ruled in favor of Antigua… though, amusingly, the US still claimed victory and then proceeded to ignore the ruling anyway. According to the ruling, the US had until today to change its laws to reflect a more fair outcome — something the US said it would do, but which it has shown no signs of actually following through on. So, what’s a small country like Antigua to do? Normally, they could place trade sanctions on the US — but that’s likely to hurt Antigua a lot more than the US. Another option that’s being discussed, apparently, is that Antigua would stop enforcing US trademarks and patents, allowing manufacturers in that country to start making knockoff goods.

It’s definitely an interesting retaliation strategy, but Jerry Brito takes the argument one step further, suggesting that an even more compelling move might be to allow the creation of online music services that have been banned in the US, such as the original Napster or Or, at the very least, an online music store like that currently exists in a legal gray area over in Russia. That, clearly, could get the attention of politicians in the US, since they seem so tuned into the “concerns” of the entertainment industry these days. No matter what, though, it seems like this could be an interesting strategy for any country involved in a trade dispute with the US. In the past, we’ve seen Brazil use intellectual property enforcement as a weapon in trade disputes. However, using it as an offensive weapon to allow such products (especially digital ones) back into the US could be seen as a very powerful tool in such disputes and could lead to some challenges for the entertainment industry. Imagine every country that has a trade dispute with the US simply setting up servers upon servers of downloadable music and movies. Of course, if the industry learned how to embrace file sharing with alternative business models, this entire “threat” could disappear overnight. Somehow, that seems unlikely — and, instead, we’d be subjected to commercials warning everyone that downloading from such sites helped our enemies.

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Comments on “Could Antigua Use Free Music To Retaliate Against The US?”

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An upstanding USAF officer says:

Re: While we're at it....

You must be out of your mind to somehow equate this (amusingly creative) plan will somehow defeat the US.

You don’t like Antigua’s plan? Well, I don’t either since it’s essentially breaking an “eye for an eye” scenario, but at least make an intelligent argument instead of this terrorism fear-mongering crap.

And just in case you think I’m screwing with you, I actually am an USAF officer at Wright Patterson AFB. You just try attacking my patriotism, natch.

The Guy who didnt leave a name says:

Re: Re: While we're at it....

what? patriotism?? you must have never heard of the free market. Its what drives this country to success. Not out gov’t (proud ex-navy and husband to career navy chick, dont touch my patriotism).

Who said anything about terrorism? Corporate terrorism maybe… man, youre way outta touch with reality. Perhaps you should get out of the military now.

RevJoe says:

Re: Re: Re: While we're at it....

“you must have never heard of the free market. Its what drives this country to success”

Some people USED TO think it was the unprecedented civil liberties and individual freedom this country (originally) granted its citizens that made it successful — and the fact that believing in those things gave people an actual REASON to try to MAKE their country successful.

I see reading this and other forums that this idea has been, in the words of the ever-wise Alberto Gonzales “rendered quaint and irrelevant” (like the Geneva Convention rules against torture) in the minds of my countrymen.

I hope liberty never has to go up against “free market” greed in an election in this country — oh, wait, I think it already has …

P.S. — @Green Day — if you think “developing your music” can IN ANY WAY be claimed to be “working your ass off”, you should try digging ditches for a day, or scrubbing toilets — not to mention the fact that, no, “working your ass off” most definitely DOES NOT “give you the right” to “obscene profits”. If such a ridiculous thing were so, the aforementioned ditch-diggers would be able to buy and sell all the musicians on the planet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: While we're at it....

How about you take the obvious feeble attempts of flashing your rank around and get back to doing your job. Being in the Air Force doesn’t make you a Patriot, or more patriotic than the GS-11 standing next to you. This is branch bashing at it’s finest. The O-1 is trying much to hard to impress the masses. Let us all be more understanding. So before you become defensive and hide behind your job title, remember the people who are actually fight for this country and are not stationed in Ohio, fighting snow storms.

parched says:

Re: While we're at it....

I believe you have confused the RIAA and the MPAA with the US Government. The former two hold that we, the people, are obliged to defend their right to obscene profit as sacred.

You’re in good company,however, since our Attorney General is apparently holds the same distorted veiw.

Phil (user link) says:

Re: While we're at it....

Protaganist Unilateralism is THE sure fire way to become the most dispised country around. Oh, wait…The point here is, you’re defeating yourselves. And this is actually an avertion theropy.

After saying a thing like that I ought to clarify, I actually like Americans (I married one) and America, but foreign policy is not a game (even if game theory can help in the short term) its a relationship you have with the world. Right now, Bush and his ‘administration’ should be looking up the number for RELATE. Not throwing a hissy over someone leaving the toothpaste too close to the hemeroid cream.

WTO Expert says:

Antigua gambling case

Just to clarify one point, the WTO rulings on this issue were by a panel (i.e. the WTO’s lower court) and then the Appellate Body (i.e. the WTO’s higher court). Oversimplifying a lot, the panel found an egregious violation, but then on appeal the Appellate Body reversed on many issues and in the end found only a minor violation. The violation is probably easily correctible, if Congress were to decide to do so.

Tyshaun says:


I say let them do it. The US has a history of choosing to ignore international agreements if not convienient (for instance, the whole non-proliferation issue with Iran and the way we “overlook” the treaty for India). Hey, if Antigua has the balls, let them start churning out knockoff cars, drugs, music, whatever the hell they can make. Perhaps we will learn that we are part of an international community and must play by the same rules as we expect others to play by.

Either that or Antigua’s next to be attacked as a “terrorist” harboring nation.

Buzz Coy says:

Re: The US doesn't represent me

Fight On I think the reason the US is having so much trouble with terrorists is because of the way we have treated the rest of the world especially in the Middle East. If there is someone in power that doesnt bend to the whim of the US in comes the CIA even if it is a democratically elected administration Case in point The US put the Shaw of Iran in power. Why do these people hate the US because we don’t play by the rules. We need to elect people who understand it is a world economy out there and time have changed we cant rule the world with the threat of war it is too costly.

Mr. Canada (profile) says:

Stick to em

Some AmWreckin people have got their heads so far up Bush’s ass it don’t smell no more. YES, this administration does ignore international trade decisions unfavourable to their lobbyists’ interests and repeatedly I might add:

Antigua had better learn to retaliate quickly and as cleverly as the article above suggests. Besides, what American in his/her right mind would shed a tear for their profiting off copyright cartels currently sueing Americans out of existence.

John.. Dude with balls says:

Yeah heres my 2

If Antigua places any kind of only free copyrighted material online.. Well congradulations. Americas has a MAJOR Hipocritical Stance on international rights to Intelectual property. if a retaliation is make via offending digital media copyright laws then america will simply Piss and moan while we build more technology in our militairy based on other country’s research. America has no respect for a country who spends millions on developing a new technology, but allows civil suits to cause more in monitairy damages than an arsonist pays in fines for something that has a value of less than a $USD (MP3)

fsckr (user link) says:

I've always wondered...

why the federal govt. is so anti-gambling…

I live in a state where a large portion of public spending is sourced from casinos in Indian reservations as well as the state lottery. It seems to work well and I feel it would work just as well (maybe even better) on a nationwide scale. Right now, a large portion of US income is being channelled off into countries that are more lenient with their gambling laws, why not create a framework that would keep the money in the US?



Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I've always wondered...

“why the federal govt. is so anti-gambling…”

It’s not, per se. The states control where and what kind of gambling is permitted. The fed get involved via regulation of interstate commerce and other laws.

Offshore gambling gets complicated as credit cards, US bank transfers, etc. come into play. Spend a little time Googling the subject.

There is more at stake here than whether Antigua can offer gambling to US residents. I’m loath to defend the current administration on anything, but on this issue I have to agree.

Bob says:


As much as I’m all in favor of this WTO ruling, it’s worth pointing out that Antigua hosed themself by unilaterally trying to tax the gaming industry on net revenue, a rediculous number that would have amounted to a huge percentage of the profits of the online casinos/sportsbooks. This was an abrupt change one year from a relatively small flat-fee to a huge percentage, and they did it with no discussion with the industry.

Most operations moved to Belize/Costa Rica/Panama/Gibraltar and other places, at which point Antigua said “Oh! Wait! we changed our mind, we don’t do it! Come back!” Would YOU go back?

Add to this that the local government did basically nothing at all to help these businesses get started in antigua other than grant them a license.. (any imported computer equipment is very heavily taxed, no data centers existed,etc). Most online gaming companies wouldn’t mind paying a percnetage of profits in taxes to their host countries IF those countries showed them some support.

Antigua's Legal Counsel says:

Interesting Thread

Hello lads, I am the lawyer for Antigua in this matter, and your comments are very interesting. Please understand that we are fighting an economic battle here, and one that involves economic hypocrisy. This is not a political battle and our relations with the United States are in every other way good. But we have a very limited economy and very few ways to make things better for people of the country. Antigua was actually encouraged back in 1995 to 1997 to develop this industry by the United States–and it simply changed its course in 1998.

What we really want the United States to do is negotiate with us fairly and come up with an equitable and reasonable solution that allows us to provide the services safely and efficiently. Whatever sanctions we end up imposing will be designed to get the United States to pay attention to us–that is all. Unfortunately, to date they have been arrogant and unwilling to compromise.

All the best

peter (user link) says:

What Antigua can and cannot do

Hey folks,

Very glad to see this exchange. Earlier this month we analyzed the WTO internet gambling decision and speculated on next steps. The compliance deadline has come and gone. At a National Conference of State Legislatures forum in Washington DC on Thursday, a senior US services negotiator said that the United States is going to “let the WTO dispute resolution system run its course.” Which means that indeed they are banking on the fact that Antigua will NOT pursue aggressive retaliation against the U.S. — like legalizing file-sharing.

Regading the “WTO Expert” comment above: there are two “easy fixes,” and they are easy only in a technical sense, not in a political sense:

1) Withdraw the US gambling commitment using the GATS Article 21 process.

2) Amend the Interstate HorseRacing Act.

USTR doesn’t want to do the former; Congress doesn’t want to do the latter. However, only Antigua can provoke a dirt-clod fight between the two– filing-sharing would be one way to do it, most likely. RIAA is a pretty powerful lobby and they would be all over Congress in a matter of minutes on this stuff.

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