WTO Gives Antigua Only $21 Million In Sanctions; US Says 'Not So Fast…'
from the this-ain't-over-yet dept
The battle between the US and Antigua over online gambling is rather long. You can go back here to read a summary of the back and forth — but the quick version is that the US violated its own free trade agreements by banning some forms of online gambling (while allowing others). Antigua, home to many online gambling firms, filed a complaint with the WTO. The WTO repeatedly sided with Antigua, and the US repeatedly ignored those rulings, before the US eventually unilaterally claimed that it had changed its trade agreement so that online gambling wasn’t covered. In response, Antigua (with very little power) started pushing for a different kind of sanction against the US: it asked to be allowed to violate intellectual property of US firms, including copyrights, patents and trademarks. Antigua didn’t really want that to happen — it wanted to use that to put pressure on the US to back down and allow online gambling. A bunch of other countries started siding with Antigua until the US bought them off, leaving Antigua and a few other small countries fighting the US at the WTO.
Today the WTO came down with its final (no, this time they swear, it’s final, dammit!) ruling, saying (again) that the US definitely did violate trade agreements, but that Antigua is only entitled to $21 million. The WTO did allow Antigua to target US copyrights in order to make up that amount, but the way folks like the RIAA “count” the value of copyright, $21 million is, what, like 10 songs? This is obviously far short of what Antigua was hoping for. You would think that the US might just pay off the $21 million and be done with it… but that would only be if you didn’t recognize the way our government worked. Instead, even though there’s no appealing the WTO’s decision, the US is already warning Antigua not to put in place any sanctions based on this ruling. The US claims that it’s in the process of “revising its commitments” with regards to its trade agreements and that Antigua should wait until those revisions are complete before it thinks about putting in place sanctions. While Antigua “wins” again, the reality here is that the US appears to have bullied its way into the real winning position.