Antigua Says It Will Certainly, Absolutely, Definitely Use WTO Permission To Ignore US Copyright And Set Up A Pirate Site, Maybe

from the don't-make-us-do-this dept

One of the longest-running, and most extraordinary, sagas on Techdirt concerns the island of Antigua. Over 13 years ago, the country filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the US ban on online gambling, which Antigua said violated a trade agreement between the two countries. Long story short, the WTO not only agreed, but said that the Caribbean country could ignore US copyrights, and set up a WTO-authorized pirate site to obtain the $21 million in WTO sanctions that the US was refusing to pay as compensation for blocking Antigua’s online gambling sites. In 2013, Antigua was still saying it was definitely going to do this if it couldn’t come to some agreement with the US on the matter, and the US was still refusing to settle.

Three years later, Antigua — officially known as Antigua and Barbuda — has just told a meeting of the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) the following:

Antigua and Barbuda now informs the DSB that, if an appropriate and beneficial settlement is not reached with the US by year-end, the government will be compelled to take action to enforce the suspension of copyright on the sale of US intellectual property, consistent with the award of the DSB.

That’s from a copy of Antigua’s statement (pdf), obtained by IP Watch. The spokesperson claims the country has suffered serious losses as a result of the US gambling ban:

Over that entire 12-year period, my small country with a Gross Domestic Product of just $1 billion has been deprived of trade revenues which now exceed $250 million.

The statement points out that for the US, $250 million represents just 0.0003% of its annual GDP, and that over the last 12 years, the US has enjoyed a trade surplus of $1 billion with Antigua. Moreover:

While the US continues to act in contradiction of the rulings and recommendations stipulated by DSB concerning my country, it remains the most active user of the institution’s Dispute Settlement System.

As a result of the continuing US intransigence, Antigua feels it has no choice but to take the momentous step of absolutely definitely setting up that WTO-authorized piracy site — just like the last time it said that.

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Comments on “Antigua Says It Will Certainly, Absolutely, Definitely Use WTO Permission To Ignore US Copyright And Set Up A Pirate Site, Maybe”

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Hugo S Cunningham (profile) says:

Limited infringement could divide US opinion

I oppose on-line gambling unless it includes protection and reimbursement for those victimized by gambling addicts, eg employers, spouses, dependent children, etc. Having said that…

Antigua could attract some American support by targeting a niche: films that *should* be in the public domain, ie. more than 70 years old.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Limited infringement could divide US opinion

But yet drugs are available ANYWHERE. There is protection or reimbursement for their activities? Gambling is a much lesser evil as the recent legalization is showing. An American constitutional right should be for people spend their money as they see fit. The ONLY reason this is an issue is because the US gov’t cant get sink their teeth in and get a cut as easily like they can as you’re walking out of a casino or trying to collect your lottery winnings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sure they can set up a pirate site, but the spooks in the US will either take it down or target anyone that visits it. Gambling is a vice, and as such the US government wants a cut, or they take their ball and go home. I will take my chances in Atlantic City or Las Vegas, or on most any Indian Reservation here in the states for that matter. The system is rigged enough towards the house at a brick and mortar casino, let alone on the www.

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