Antigua Still Threatening To Launch Its WTO-Endorsed Legal Piracy Site, But We've Heard That Before
from the any-day-now dept
In a dispute that’s dragged on for over a decade, it appears that Antigua is, once again, making noises about how this time it’s really, really, really going to do what the WTO has said it can do: set up a legal platform to infringe on American copyrights as a form of official payback for the US clearly violating a trade agreement with Antigua by outlawing online gambling. We’ve covered this dispute and all its twists and turns for years, but the short summary is that Antigua won at every turn, even as the US tried to once declare victory where it had lost. The US even tried to just say it could unilaterally change the trade agreement, which is not how those things work.
Of course, Antigua is a small country, so how does it “get back” at the US after such a win, when it’s clear that the US doesn’t care at all about the WTO saying it violated the agreement? Well, some folks had the bright idea that perhaps Antigua could just violate American copyrights, and pirate their way to the equivalent value of what the US should be paying. That idea was first floated around 2006, and it seemed like a joke. However, it continued to gain steam. Of course, the real idea behind these sorts of things is that Antigua and the WTO hope that this will make the RIAA and MPAA go running to the US government and beg them to come to some sort of settlement in which gobs of cash are sent from the US Treasury to Antigua. It’s a well-known trick in trade wars: co-opt some powerful lobbyists who really shouldn’t have any dog in the actual fight, and get them on your side. It happens in trade disputes quite often.
Of course, in the years since the WTO first gave its stamp of approval to this plan, what we’ve seen is every so often, Antigua makes a public statement along the lines of, “Hey! we’re really going to do it!” and the US responds with “You’d better not!” and then there’s silence for a year or two, and the dance starts all over again. Apparently it’s time for that dance again, because Antigua is making very public that it’s really, no really (do you hear that USTR?) really, really, really planning to move forward this time. No, really. They even had a meeting about it. And they’re going to set up a body to “manage and operate” the platform. They also claim that they’ll soon let private companies bid on participating. And… of course, they knock the US for “failing to negotiate.”
I imagine that at some point the US will do another “Oh no, you’d better not!” statement, and then we’ll be waiting around for another six to nine months before Antigua insists that it’s really, really, no really moving forward with it this time. Really. Guys. Really. We mean it this time.