Antigua Seriously Pushing For WTO Approval To Distribute Free Music And Movies

from the well,-look-at-that... dept

Since 2003, we’ve been following the saga of Antigua’s fight against the US in the World Trade Organization. Basically, Antigua argued that the US’s ban on online gambling violated the free trade agreement the two countries had signed — as it blocked online gambling sites based in Antigua (of which there are a bunch). Since then, the case has been fun to watch if only for how the US has responded to it. The WTO ruled in favor of Antigua at which point the US basically ignored the WTO, despite the WTO occasionally making angry noises. Then, there was the time that the US went so far as to declare that the WTO had reversed that original ruling on appeal… but the details showed that the US was making up that claim and the WTO was still supporting Antigua. Earlier this year, after the WTO started stomping its feet again, the US responded by saying it was simply (unilaterally) going to change its free trade agreement with Antigua, so that online gambling wasn’t included. Obviously, Antigua finds that solution quite troublesome.

Back in early 2006, however, a few people began buzzing about an idea that Antigua could use to force the US to pay attention: become an WTO-backed ignorer of US copyright law. Since the US knew it could effectively ignore Antigua over online gambling, the idea was that Antigua should simply say that if the US won’t support its free trade agreement, then it would start ignoring US copyright laws, and would then (with WTO-backing, mind you) allow modern versions of all sorts of copyright-violating services to prosper. We didn’t think that Antigua would seriously go in this direction, but as a new NY Times article makes clear it’s exactly what Antigua is now pushing for. Of course, the real hope is that in doing so, the Big Copyright players will force the US government to back down on the gambling issue. However, it might be a lot more interesting to see what would happen if Antigua really did become the protected legal home of more modern versions of (the old) Napster, my.mp3.com, the Pirate Bay, Allofmp3.com and others. Of course, as reader OKVol points out to us, the real irony here is that in potentially ignoring copyright monopolies, Antigua may be getting closer to real free trade than in living up to the terms of the free trade agreement between the two countries.

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Comments on “Antigua Seriously Pushing For WTO Approval To Distribute Free Music And Movies”

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50 Comments
The infamous Joe says:

I dunno..

“Think of this from the W.T.O.’s point of view,” said Charles R. Nesson, a professor at Harvard Law School. “They’re [the WTO] this fledgling organization dominated by a huge monster in the United States. People there must be scared out of their wits at the prospects of enforcing a ruling that would instantly galvanize public opinion in the United States against the W.T.O.”

Against the WTO? Hell, I’m in their cheering section. This great country of ours has been slowly, but surely, perverted from what it was started as, and a little help from the rest of the world to get us back on track would be much appreciated. The worst part is, the US gets all up in arms when another country, like China, doesn’t follow WTO rulings– but we have no problem ignoring the WTO when we don’t get our way… and we’re not even trying to hide our hypocrisy. Every day without fail I read something online about this country that makes me *ashamed* to be part of it.

/rant

Guiltless says:

You Guilty Ashamed Wimps

Who cares about the WTO. We should spread our influence to our advantage (the US)and our laws and lifestyle- exactly like China. You sad ashamed people who feel guilty about everything should take your personal shortcomings elsewhere. This is a world that is not fair- stop laying your silly feelings out there and consider what is rationally best for us- U.S.

Shag says:

Re: You Guilty Ashamed Wimps

At least in China they have a very strong sense of Honor, that is lacking here. The guy who hung himself in his office a few weeks ago, for sending out bad paint in the toys. He felt that there was no other way for him.

What is rational for the us would be to follow what they signed on too. Treaties, packs, and even the WTO. The US, even bullied Russia so that their entry was based on them shutting down a web-site(allmp3.com).

Even towards us Canadians, there went the unresolved soft-wood lumber debate. For years, there was pressure, from from us, and the WTO. The WTO kept ruling in our favor, however, over years, however your government refused to cave. The only reason that we accepted any sort of deal was with our new American-Ass licking government.

dwb says:

Re: Re: You Guilty Ashamed Wimps

“The guy who hung himself in his office a few weeks ago, for sending out bad paint in the toys. He felt that there was no other way for him.”

Had this happened over here the head of the company might have been handed a golden handshake and asked to leave.

In the States, Canada, etc. it’s only about doing what is best for the bottom line, and nothng else.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: You Guilty Ashamed Wimps

So move…

I am, in fact, seriously considering the idea of moving. This country is going to shit, and if the rate of descent doesn’t, at the very least, slow down, I’ll have no choice but to move to keep my freedom. We’ll see in a year or so, I imagine.

Every day this country chips away that the freedom and there are so many sheep-like Americans that refuse to look at the bigger picture that those of us that *do* try to voice our outrage are drowned out by the mindless bleating of the majority. Just read any article on airport security, or the banning of words, or about anything done “to protect against terrorism” or “for the children” or “the war on drugs” and you’ll see the trend.

However, I’d rather stay and try to fix this Great Mess we call The United States, instead of taking the easy way out offered by so many who say “So move…” though, at some point the only solution will be a revolution or an exodus to another country.

You sad ashamed people who feel guilty about everything should take your personal shortcomings elsewhere.

Might does not make right, my school-yard bully friend. We signed an agreement and we should stand by that agreement. We are re-writing our trade agreements to take out online gambling– without the agreement of the other people in the party. I dare say that if a bank one day called you up and said they’d increased the interest rate on your loan by 65%, you’d be up in arms.

This is a world that is not fair- stop laying your silly feelings out there and consider what is rationally best for us- U.S.

What is best for the US is to not alienate the rest of the world. We treat people from our *allied* countries like terrorists when they fly through our airports; we ignore the WTO when they make a decision we don’t like. We are harvesting resentment around the world and pretend that our actions don’t have consequences. I have no doubts our actions in this day and age will come back to bite us in the ass.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re #7 & #9

#7, I agree with you. I have an idea of what America should be and it seems great. But we are only moving more away from that, to a stance of being a world bully.

#9, You would make a great politician / sect leader, love shoving your ideas down other’s throats. Sad sad person. You are one of those that make this a country I am ashamed of.

Humans beings have great potential to be a great race, and ideas like that, to just spread our ideas because “they are the right way” only makes the race weaker and pathetic.
It doesn’t matter where you live.

If Antigua pulls this off, its going to be put on the list of places to look into moving when the US starts its final decline, which only looks more inevitable as time passes.
Hopefully changing the head administration here soon will help us pick ourselves up some.

amcomwrks says:

David vs Goliath

Sorta like David/Antigua Chunking whatever stones it can find against Goliath/U.S. And I don’t blame them a bit. Where do we get off telling a sovereign nation that is engaging in a nonviolent enterprise to better themselves and their economic base what to do. Every body out there should get the slysoft software and rip to their hearts content, while tossing up their middle finger and saying heres to you Goliath and the greedy Philistines running you.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Try to transfer $10,000 to anywhere from anywhere and see. US based or foreign, if you do this, the govt. knows about it. eBay, Paypal, any bank, any credit card company, any insurance company, any brokerage house, they all report financial information to the US govt. One company is under investigation from Scandanavian officials for giving out what they consider private information. If the brokerage house didn’t give it to the US Govt. they would have been in voilation of money laundering laws.

You don’t want to be convicted of money laundering. You won’t have much fun after that.

Shun says:

Battle of the Bribes

Some of you here are suggesting that the RIAA will throw a bunch of money at the Government of Antigua, and the problem of music/movie/game/trade secret piracy will magically go away. Here’s a hint for you : it won’t make a dent.

The Government of Antigua is currently held up by the massive amount of gambling that is taking place. It’s kinda like trying to bribe the Las Vegas government with money coming out of some other industry, other than gambling. Who’s going to do it?

Let’s see who’s going to win : the people who currently have a failing business model, who are happy to piss off their customer base, and who are suing (and losing) in the American Courts, thereby losing more money which could potentially be used to bribe politicians in Antigua.

Or…the on-line gambling companies who are making a boatload of money, are a growing industry, and are hip to customer service…gee, well, I don’t play the numbers, but somehow I get the feeling that the cave-dwelling album-makers are going to get run over by the on-line gambling train.

John (profile) says:

Go USA

I say “Go USA!”

Let Antigua legally ignore US copyrights. I’d love to fly over there and get fully legal, pirated copies of Windows Vista, Photoshop, and the latest movies on DVD which are still in the movie theater.

Just think about all the markets that will open up to Antigua if they have WTO-backed “piracy”… though at that point, you can’t call it “piracy” since it’s legal.

And think about how many companies depend on IP protection: Microsoft, Adobe, Paramount, Disney, Universal, Apple, and so on. How will they react, knowing people can freely copy their products in Antigua simply because the US tried to impose its own values on another country?

As for the person who asked where the WMD’s are in Antigua? That’s irrelevant.
All the Bush government has to do is provide super-flimsly, highly suspect, “evidence” that online gambling in Antigua helps to fund “terrorists”.
Who are these “terrorists”? How are they funded? Where does the money actually come from? Where does the money actually go? What is the proof?
Who cares? The case will be made that we invade now, before they bring their nefarious schemes to this country.

Wadadliman says:

Give us a break

“Hopefully the people of Antigua would be more willing than Americans to remove those corrupt politicians from office.”

“Antigua is small, so it must be much easier to get people organized to “remove those corrupt politicians from office”.

Give us a break. We got rid of a corrupt government a few years ago. We are just getting used to this corrupt set.

I think the issue is more about the online gambling industry vs the US, with Antigua used as a pawn. Yeah we benefit, but with enormous debt to the US, no natural resources, dwindling revenue from tourism in part due to the “US security measures” in place for air travelers, we have little choice. It is a matter of a nation’s financial survival.

David Sternlight (user link) says:

Too much spasm response here

This issue has brought out everyone’s favorite prejudices pro- and anti-US.

Let those with eyes read! “The US has exhausted its appeals.” and “The parties are now negotiating settlement.”

That sounds like the due process America we know and love, and not some thug depicted by some here.

Antigua’s move to get US copyright nullification rights from WTO is a simple and straightforward legal maneuver by a smart lawyer. We (the US) do that all the time. Sauce for the goose… etc.

Stay tuned to see how this plays out in the arena of due process, and please resist the urge to moralize along the way. The matter is currently under adjudication and thus far no one has done anything egregiously contrary to international law.

IF the WTO gives Antigua the sanctions asked and the US takes some draconian counter-action, or IF the US doesn’t compromise in some way, THEN it will be time to yell about China and hypocrisy; not before. So far all parties seem to be seeking to “work the problem” “through channels”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Too much spasm response here

So far all parties seem to be seeking to “work the problem” “through channels”.

And the US has a military “channel” if the other “channels” fail to produce satisfactory results. Antigua knows this. They’ll back down and kiss some US ass if it comes down to it.

PodissRT says:

Re: Re: Too much spasm response here

“And the US has a military “channel” if the other “channels” fail to produce satisfactory results. Antigua knows this. They’ll back down and kiss some US ass if it comes down to it.”

I’d love to hear they excuse they come up with for invading a tiny democratic country who’s independence is guaranteed by our good friends Great Britain. The Queen is still listed as chief of state in the CIA world factbook.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Too much spasm response here

I’d love to hear they excuse they come up with for invading a tiny democratic country who’s independence is guaranteed by our good friends Great Britain. The Queen is still listed as chief of state in the CIA world factbook.

That’s even better. It gives the British an excuse to help the US go in and “liberate” the people of Antigua and restore “democracy” to their poor, beleaguered nation. Why, I bet the people there would be so grateful that they would even greet the liberating US troops with flowers and kisses!

David Sternlight (user link) says:

And another thing

Some here seem to think that if Antigua is allowed to ignore US copyrights it will be the end of the world. No such thing; it will be the loss of profits from the domestic Antigua market. The US will have little difficulty in getting US customs to prevent imports from Antigua of copyright and prohibited matter. They do that all the time with fakes from Asia, cuban cigars, etc. And similarly, there is probably an easy way to get other countries with whom the US has mutual copyright relationships either directly or via WTO, to have their customs block such imports. The would leave countries who violate US copyright anyway, plus the Antigua domestic market. Given world trade volumes, no big deal.

Given that, expect a “the sky is falling” campaign from the RIAA, MPAA. et al.

Mike says:

america?

First lets get a thing straight. In first place, the country name is not “America” is “United States of America”. America is the whole continent, north, central and south. In thi sense, cubans, brazilians, jamaicans and peruans are so americans as us. We are so blind of the world that we take over the name of the continent.

I said that to illustrate how crapping to the world we are. We crap for the Kioto convention, we crap to WTO, we crap to South America and Mexico, we use Canada as our backyard, we use South America as our toilet, WTF!

All the crap we do will turn agains us.

We better stop this crap before it is too late.

We are feeding the monster that will destroy us.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Myself

I am a native US citizen (“American”) but I too am very sad of the negativity we spread.
I try to read news from around the world decently often.
I believe our country is way too forceful and that too many people take everything our government spouts as gospel truth.
We do need a good smackdown. However, I would very very highly prefer that the smackdown come from our own people within, and not from another country or organization.
I believe we can still clean ourselves up.
Just need to get enough supporters.
Which I admit is quite a problem with as large as we are.

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