10 Years Later: Antigua May Finally (Really) Set Up Official 'Pirate' Site To Get Back What US Owes In Sanctions

from the watch-this-space dept

Well here’s a story that’s more than a decade in the making. Way back in 2003, we first wrote about Antigua filing for sanctions against the US for its ban on online gambling. Antigua argued (with fairly strong support) that this violated a trade agreement between the US and Antigua, by blocking a form of free trade. The case was at the WTO for years, bouncing around. In 2004, the WTO ruled against the US, which the US promptly ignored. In 2005, the WTO again ruled in favor of Antigua on the issue, and the US (stunningly) responded by pretending that it had won, when it most clearly had not. Following that, the US pretended that it could just unilaterally change its free trade agreement to carve out gambling. Not surprisingly, Antigua (and the WTO) found that to be problematic.

It goes without saying that the US is big and powerful and Antigua… is not. So, as it became clear that the US intended to ignore any WTO ruling, people began to wonder if there was any remedy for Antigua over this issue. Normally, the WTO could do something with trade sanctions against the US and in favor of Antigua, but given how much Antigua relies on US trade, that would likely hurt Antigua a lot more than the US. Somewhere in the midst of this — around 2006 — someone somewhere floated the idea that one way that Antigua could be made whole would be to allow it to ignore US copyright laws, allowing it to “sell” copyrighted content on the cheap, without paying any royalties. That idea took on a life of its own and Antigua began pushing the idea itself around 2007. The world community started to side with Antigua over this, recognizing that the US was being completely unfair here… and the US did what the US does, and bought off a bunch of big countries to get them to shut up and stop supporting Antigua.

In late 2007, the WTO finally said that this plan of retaliatory copyright infringement could go forward in Antigua, but limited to just $21 million worth of infringement. Even so, the US immediately warned Antigua not to even think about it, or it would retaliate. There were some negotiations between the two countries that went nowhere and then… a lot of nothing. We’ve barely touched on the story since 2008 when Antigua once again threatened to (no, really this time!) launch a copyright infringing store with “permission” from the WTO. But, that didn’t happen.

However, reports are now coming out that Antigua finally has plans in place to launch just such a store. Of course, we’ll believe it when we see it, considering the decade-long posturing over this issue. Oh yeah, and, once again, the US is warning Antigua not to move forward, claiming that Antigua is acting in “bad faith” and launching the store might “serve to postpone the final resolution of this matter.” Considering that the US lost at the WTO nearly a decade ago, and still hasn’t “resolved” the matter, that’s a fairly ridiculous claim. And, of course, the US is threatening to “retaliate” if Antigua goes forward:

“In these circumstances, Antigua has no justification for taking any retaliatory actions against the United States. Moreover, if Antigua actually proceeds with a plan for its government to authorize the theft of intellectual property, it would only serve to hurt Antigua’s own interests. Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement that would provide real benefits to Antigua. It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries.”

So, the short version from the US’s point of view is that it’s fine to ignore its own trade agreements that wrecked a significant part of Antigua’s economy — but as soon as Antigua fights back and wins, it’s not allowed to make use of WTO-approved remedies after years and years of the US refusing to fix its abuses. And somehow when it finally (years and years later) moves forward with this other plan… the US argues that it would harm its international obligations? The hubris from the US is (once again) incredible, if not particularly surprising.

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Comments on “10 Years Later: Antigua May Finally (Really) Set Up Official 'Pirate' Site To Get Back What US Owes In Sanctions”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

USA would likely launch nukes against EU too in that case since they have a plethora of trade issues with those countries too.
It is just USA being overly aggressive in trade-relations which is nothing new. I think USA is more likely to start an embargo and take the worldwide condemnation, but then again. Talk is cheap, actions are not.

Capt ICE Enforcer says:

For the Children to Defeat Terrorist

Antigua is doing it all wrong. All they have to do is explain how online gabling is designed to protect US children from big bad terrorist who do bad sex things while creating cyber pearl harbors and super secret cyber World War 3 which would destroy everything from my Microwave oven to the entire power grid of the nation. Then politicians would jump to allow gabling, after all. If not for the country, they have to morally do it for the children.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: For the Children to Defeat Terrorist

But please make sure that the childrem themselves can’t gamble, for only adults know how to porperly deal with anything related to living life, the real world and VALUES. VALUES. Also, they know what’s best for everybody who’s younger then they are, because they’ve lived longer. That’s so true, I could cry.

That One Guy (profile) says:

I particularly like this line:

‘Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement that would provide real benefits to Antigua.’

As though the US was just taking it’s sweet time getting the reparations in order to repay Antigua for screwing them over in the first place, and the whole ‘Forget the WTO, we totally won that case’ was just a misunderstanding.


Re: The Corleone Effect

America is a nation founded Puritans and anarchists. It is also a collection of independent legal jurisdictions. By trying to meddle on an issue of sovereignty and vice, you have all but assured that the US will never cave on the issue.

At $21M, it might not even be worth the cost of retaliation.

gorehound (profile) says:

Antigua you should just go ahead and do what you want to do.My Government will never give you what you should get.They will just argue and argue and stall so they can hammer you with BS.
Let places like The Pirate Bay set up there.How about Non-Logging VPN’s.
Fuck My US Government and Fuck the MAFIAA !
Millions of people will give you a ton of Business while you get to stick two fingers in the Air.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Antigua should just withdraw from all copyright and patent agreements. Pass laws that require all services and data storage to not retain any logs and position themselves as the only secure place to store data and provide internet services free from monitoring and interference. Making the the go to nation for providing secure internet services for the globe. Whatever the US and their lickspittle akkies throw at them then there’d be nothing stopping them from becoming the richest nation on the planet, privacy and security are clearly going to be rarer and more valuable than gold and oil in the 21st century.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ah me

What you say about the importance of information security is, I think true, but it never ceases to amaze me how no one puts two and two together regarding the whole concept of “security”.

If something were in Antigua that was incredibly important to the U.S., who is going to stop us? I’m not saying that out of pride, though I am not ashamed of the fact that we have a powerful military. What I am simply saying is, where is the rest of the world’s commitment to security? Where’s YOUR military? Where are you in the Middle East? Where are you in Africa?

Don’t give me this moral superiority nonsense. If you can do it better than the US, you absolutely should. If you’re going to just sit there complaining about us while we provide free enforcement for any and all international policies the “West” in general deems beneficial, then cry me a river when things go to hell, but don’t ask me to believe those tears are sincere.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Any cash business tends to keep money out of the bank. Banks need their money to come back if they are to lend more money, which is necessary if they ever intend to get the interest out of the money they previously lent. At any given time, more money is owed than currently exists. This is why we have constant inflation. We are told as long as inflation is slow it is ok. That is a lie. Inflation forces you to put your money BACK in the hands of the very people using it against you to begin with. Otherwise it just sites there getting more and more worthless. So you “invest” it, which puts it in the hands of bankers’ chronies, who fuck things up every few years like clockwork and yet no one ever wises up.

The whole planetary economy is still in a tissy over their last fiasco. And STILL hardly anyone cares. People are out there honest to god trying to blame poor people who barely understand the system for borrowing too much so they can live in a house….

Anyhow, since all your money is debt anyhow, it becomes an issue.

Short answer – yes. Yes it does.

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re: Re:

Great post. I might add that all the rhetoric about free trade and globalization, coupled with deregulation and a lack of incentives, helped lead to the outsourcing of our jobs sectors. CEOs are only concerned with their company stock, huge bonuses and golden parachutes. Thanks to the banks, millions of Americans lost their homes. None of these people have been punished for their crimes. In fact they were bailed out with our tax dollars. (Try cheating the IRS out of money and ask them to bail you out, then watch what happens.)

But let’s ignore all of that because online gambling. …Yeah.

Simon says:

Be transparent...

Presumably this would be similar to the old “allofmp3” where people can download digital copies of works but the (US) licence holder doesn’t get their cut.

If they do this, they should put a huge countdown (starting at $21,000,000) on their front page that decreases as they sell files. As soon as it reaches zero, they stop taking orders.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Be transparent...

Under the Berne convention the product would NOT be infringing in the USA either since it’s legal under Antiguan law, legal under WTO ruling

Though realistically if the US govt and it’s cronies want to push the stupidity of trying to prosecute their own citizens for breaches of some type of law that the USA might have on it’s books after the USA itself has breached a law that initiated this scenario then Antigua not selling to 5% of the worlds population wouldn’t really be much of a concern would it, and I’m sure the US people knowing they are paying exorbitant prices for works that the rest of the world isn’t would sit extremely well with them.. snort

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Be transparent...


Though since the govt of any jurisdiction can set what % can go to copyright holders via there collection agencies this per work price could be anywhere from 5% of the market value (what market though.. definitely not the US one) to umm some figure that is nearer to 0.001% of $0.01 per work.

See Antigua might be smart enough to understand that just as the $21mill was an arbitrary figure plucked out of the sky, they can set arbitrary retail prices and arbitrary collection of copyright prices.

I for one will welcome something like say $5 – $20US per month to download anything I wish.

Might take a while to count down.

Franklin G Ryzzo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Be transparent...

I was thinking the same thing. Since 21 Million is a drop in the bucket to a national economy, and since the loses to Antigua’s economy was probably an order of magnitude higher, I’m hoping they use this site as a big FU to the US and make it something ridiculous like a dollar a month, or even a year. Ensuring that the most amount of people access the most content possible before hitting the 21M limit should be their only priority.

Anonymous Coward says:

i think this ‘crying wolf’ all the time attitude the US uses has worn a bit thin. it’s basically the same old story. the US thinks and expects to be able to do whatever it wants, to whoever and wherever it wants, regardless of the consequences to the others but then bitterly complains when someone actually has the balls to stand up for themselves and tells the US to piss off! what is it with this attitude that the world has got to do whatever it can to ensure the US and it’s businesses are flourishing, even when it’s to the detriment of everywhere else? the US doesn’t give a flying toss about anywhere else, unless there are oil or gas deposits that it wants, when it then invades the places, takes what it wants, under the cover of ‘protecting the locals from tyranny’ and then goes home! usual bully boy practices!

G Thompson (profile) says:

It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries.”

This statement is more proof that still the American Government has this strange notion that only they have some type of high-tech industry and other countries are just dumb foreigners.

Antigua might find an influx of HT Industries from China, India, & Brazil to name just a few . Or even from private companies from across the world who are basically pissed off at the USA.. I know at least a dozen personally who could be persuaded to start investing in Antigua since that is probably where most people will now go for their Media purchases.

shane (profile) says:

Re: No one's going to work their way to freedom

Our power lies in our marketplace, not in our industrial strength. This is derived in no small part from the relative strength of the dollar, especially given how many dollars there are.

People do not understand that the dollar remains the current default international currency. It has a value independent of its value here in America that is based on an amalgam of our percieved strength in business, technology, energy, and most importantly, our ability to defend our interests abroad.

The value of modern money is entirely – quite literally entirely – a matter of perception. Being able to physically prevent people from doing things that mess with the perception of America as powerful and worthy of being obeyed is key to the current economic success of this nation.

Which is pathetic in my view, but it DOES work, no matter what I may think of the moral or ethical underpinnings.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: No one's going to work their way to freedom

Which is the absolute reason why China, Russia, Germany, and Brazil are for a non geographically centric unit of currency that is not based on the USA.

Your market might of used to of been big and diverse when you were, other than Europe, the only real place to sell anything to. And yes the ability to produce a huge amount of products cheaply to allow high consumer turnover with many competitors (choice) is the reason why your economy excelled and bypassed the UK in the 20th Century.

That market though is basically nothing compared to the emerging markets of the rest of the world. If you have been here for a while you would of noticed something I say a lot (and I sound to myself like a broken record) but it needs repeating. The USA is only 5% of the worlds population. Looking at the percentage of the NEW developing world (compared to the old ‘first world’) your market percentage is around 15% this means there are 85% of other places where companies can produce, sell, and constantly resell to a growing (I mean really growing) market and economy. You have barely any manufacturing or primary industries (mining, oil, coal) anymore. Your whole economy is now basically based on services and technology but the problem is you are refusing to allow old technologies to use new technology in innovative ways to what your internal and external markets want and require.

The perception of the USA being the worthy and powerful nation is now becoming obsolete since every country, and most of the informed population knows and sees this as bully tactics and is basically pushing back. The perception of the USA physically able to stop others from doing things they want is just hot air nowadays unless the USA want to initiate M.A.D and you already are overstretched (more than your populace realise) in committing to a few major military theatres.

From the outside looking in its scary to see what is currently happening within the USA to its economy, its average citizen’s lack of health and education, individual freedom (you might have a Bill of Rights, that if not totally it is very close to being moot), inventiveness (it’s being stamped out by your laws against yourselves on patents, national security, and other FUD), the list goes on.

America is now becoming a walled garden more so than during the 1930’s when you had at least your manufacturing and industry to fall back on. The world has changed, the threat of communism (which wasn’t really a threat in first place) has disappeared, to be instead replaced by the threat of invisible ideas that America is pushing.

If it doesn’t change soon it will be worse for not just the USA but the whole planet, and the human species cannot allow one nation to control the rest of the planet. Something will give, and I somehow do not think it will go the USA’s way and will result in a lot of bloodshed before it sorts itself out. sigh

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: No one's going to work their way to freedom

I tend to agree with most of what you say, though I would observe we do have more freedom of speech still than even Europe, even while our leaders work to undermine that freedom both here and abroad.

I am not impressed though with the idea of emerging markets. Continually what we see is those markets being supressed in no small part by their own governments. We export services and import things. In other words, we get a lot of stuff for nothing. This is because of the military.

For this reason I think you are right about the very real possibility of collapse and bloodshed, but it seems to me this could be avoided if several of the largest manufacturing nations (China being of course at the top of that list) were to open their markets, not to foreigners, but to their own people.

Many of these nations are destroying the initiative of their own people in far more egregious ways that we do here in the States, and yet so few seem to recognize it. This is due in no small part by the interference of the US with the sociopolitical development there. We pay a lot of money to people who operate oppressive business models that benefit us more than the citizens of the nations doing the production.

Until the lack of freedom in these developing nations is addressed, I think you will be frustrated in your attempts to change the status quo internationally. America is less the enemy than the leaders within this nations themselves.

Lurk-a-lot (profile) says:

Re: Funny Accounting

Why make movies a different price? You can do 2.1 billion items of hurt if everything sells for a cent each, or even more if you sell in the lowest value currency – they could piss the US off both ways if they sell in Iranian Rials.

I wonder if the $21m is for actual sales, or for profits? It it’s for profit, they could use Hollywood accounting to keep selling stuff forever.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Funny Accounting

Not Funny Accounting. Hollywood Accounting. There’s nothing funny about it. Think of poor little Antigua. They may never get their $21 Million.

Under Hollywood Accounting rules, Antigua would need to set up a store that sells Imaginary Property (IP). Then they would need to set up several other organizations that bill the store various “fees”. Until the store eventually turns a profit, that $21 Million that Antigua is owed cannot be repaid. I hope those “fees” won’t get too high. I mean, it could take Billions of dollars in sales in order to eventually turn $21 Million in profit. Heck, the Star Wars movies from the 1970’s still are not profitable!. So poor Antigua may never get the $21 Million that the WTO says it is owed.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Hehe

Well, what with the international ban on nuclear weapons (Except those of us who already have them) and the “Rule of Law” extending such that anyone’s right to bear arms for their own protection is slowly ebbing away, and all the leading industrial nations just ceding the point that the USA more or less is the international peace keeping force, the chances of anyone “bitch slapping” the most powerful armed force the world has ever known are proverbially between slim and none.

But thanks for sharing your sentiments.

n_Mailer says:

Re: Re:

“Official pirate site? They’ll be in for a long wait if they’re expecting to recoup anything. I downloaded several hundred songs worth millions of dollars in settlement fees and not a single cent trickled into my bank account.”

I’m stealing songs by listening to the radio right now and nobody is paying me anything either.

Hold on – I’m going to use my voice to make and distribute an unauthorized copy. Maybe that will work.

shane (profile) says:

I Wish

I wish it made sense for Antigua to do this, but it appears that the deck is stacked in our (USA’s) favor. I want it to go forward if for no other reason than that I see the idiotic canard about “theft” of intellectual property in our official response.

If nothing else at all were to come out of the copyleft movement, I would say placing IP back, squarely, in the domain of being a government granted privilege and not anything remotely related to “theft” would be enough.

Talk about bad faith….

DannyB (profile) says:

Don't forget Hollywood Accounting fees

Antigua may need to recover $21 Million by selling stolen bit patterns (oh my!).

But first the overhead of those sales must be recouped before any profit can be declared that repays that $21 Million.

Given Hollywood Accounting rules, which the US has no problems with, Antigua would probably need to sell at least several Beeelions of dollars (pinky to mouth) worth of bit patterns before it generates a $21 Million profit to satisfy the WTO approved sanctions from the US.

Antigua would need to set up several subsidiaries. Those would bill various “fees” to the store which sells the IP (imaginary property).

scott says:

violating copyrights to seek reimbursement… really only takes something back, at the expense and out of the hides of honest people, people who had nothing to do with, or any control of the U.S. government’s decision process. and I really wonder, just like the U.S. government tobaco settlements scam, and other cases of the government’s shaking down businesses for easy money, I wonder if the money taken from a retaliation, will actually be given to the industires hurt… or go really just go into another government coffer…… but really, the U.S. government is not too likely to defend or recognize or do anythings about this retaliation if it is being done….( LOL!! look at china!! )… any more than the problem it created to begin with, because either way, this does nothing to hurt the U.S. government, it really only gives them another reason to defend a warped self serving logic…. but I personally do not think 2 wrongs make a right, and at the same time, I certainly recognize this to be an example of the reality of the street version of the golden rule…. the man with the gold makes the rules! unfortunately, this is nothing new with this, or really, any other big government…..

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

So… the US is acting in good faith by using bribery and bullying to get what they want, but Antigua is acting in bad faith by standing up for itself?

Sounds like a typical bully to me. Always beating or extorting lunch money out of the smaller kids but whining about how unfair people are being when the teacher is looking.

Boo-hoo, US. I feel for you. Boo-hoo.

Anonymous Coward says:

Heh gotta love my government and my fellow citizens which most eat up everything they’re told.

Team Sambo: Sponsored by the RIAA & MPAA – Pfft let’s just bomb Antigua.

We don’t want no war! War is not my voice.

Team Sambo: Sponsored by the RIAA & MPAA – Hey! Look it’s OJ Simpson in molesting a chipmunk.

What! No way!


Da fuck! This is an outrage.

Faux News – Antigua is new suspected hideout of Saddams ghost.


Devonavar (user link) says:

Go Antigua

Go Antigua … I wish Canada had your balls.

It’s not just rulings about shady gambling schemes that the US ignores.

The US destroyed a billion dollar lumber industry in Canada by allowing price fixing. The WTO smacked it down, and the US ignored that ruling too. Canada bent over and took it.

The WTO has teeth for every country except the USA. The US ignoring the WTO is business as usual. Kudos for Antigua for offering real consequences to US bad behaviour.

Imagine if Canada ignored US Copyright equivalent to the value of our former lumber industry. I think the US *might* pay attention to that.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Go Antigua

I don’t wish to start a persnickety fight here. I agree with you, and I understand your outrage. But what rarely gets mentioned in conversations about the evil USA is that none of the rest of the industrialized world seems to want to spend the time and effort to arm themselves. Indeed, for all the evil we do, much of if is in support of an international banking system that benefits pretty much ever nation that has a significant population of European descendants.

The WTO is a US house organ because the entire international community relies on the USA to enforce any and all international agreements.

You have no one to blame ultimately but yourselves.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Go Antigua

Arm themselves against what?

What boogeyman is actually out there. And don’t start the terrorism bullshit, modern terrorism has been around for over 50yrs before America discovered it at home. Yes 9/11 was a tragedy, but it pales in comparison to what the rest of the world has suffered from terrorism and learnt to handle before the USA came along swaggering with an overstuffed ego saying “We have a cunning plan to fix it -we’ll declare war on it” (Without saying it’s really a reason to have a new ‘red under the bed’ fear to control the populace and also fix the military-industrial economy that the USA was based on.

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Go Antigua

The U.S. uses its military dominance in various ways, both subtle and unsubtle, to manipulate global financial policy. If you really cared about it, you would spend the money to counterbalance our military advantage. The fact that you not only refuse to take responsibility for the global regulatory climate in finance being dominated by the US, but somehow invent an excuse to be self righteous about it, speaks volumes to me concerning your lack of understanding regarding international finance and global affairs in general.

The simple fact is that Europe benefits from the U.S.’s global interference with the economies and political doings of other nations, all while sitting smugly on the sidelines bragging about their moral superiority.

Our military industrial complex started largely due to a couple of World Wars you might be familiar with, both of which had significant ties with international finance as well.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Go Antigua


you don’t know me You have barely been on TD a blink compared to others that do know me, so don’t presume that I do not understand about macro nor micro economics, International marketing, Global socio-politic affairs, nor anything else that you pull out of the air.

I also think you have somehow assumed I’m European (I’m not) nor am I self righteous about either my own country or myself, though it seems one of us is.

As for the militaristic dominance America thinks it has, it is nowadays a pale shadow of its former domination and strength. If you cannot see that, maybe you should try to step outside your parochial mindset and see the bigger picture. That’s what I have always tried to do.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Go Antigua

Sorry if this sounded abrupt or angry Shane, it wasn’t meant to be and I read this before I read the response to another comment of mine by you further up.

That plus its currently 6:55am on a Sunday, been up all night writing affidavits on analysis of evidence for prosecutors and I’m sort of not in a good frame of mind. Especially after being annoyed trying to read that huge 340+ thread on “Copyright Is Becoming Guilt By Accusation” or as I think it should be called “Why some law student (looking at you AJ) need to go back to law school or consider another line of work”

shane (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Go Antigua

My original reply was to someone complaining that Canada is not standing up to the US. My point is simply that Canada and hardly anyone else is, because we do what much of the rest of the Western world wants done anyway.

I have no doubt our military dominance is not what it was in the 80’s, but show me the military that holds a candle to it? We’re still all over the world doing things for the benefit of an international finance regime that benefits Europe as much as anyone else.

To make a long story short, there is a lot of accusation of America flying around from corners that are not any better off from a moral or ethical standpoint than we are.

I’m not terribly put off by your tone, I just do not see anything but a certain sense of personal authority backing what you say. I don’t even really think I am saying anything all that far out of the mainstream – merely pointing out that America is not, all by itself, the big bad boobeyman people are making us out to be, and that if people don’t like us throwing our weight around they can maybe spend some money on international military activities themselves.

Having us carry that weight all the time, then complaining about the U.S. being especially backwards and corrupt when it works in our favor, is unconvincing rhetoric to me.

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