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.

Filed Under: antigua, copyright, online gambling, piracy, trade dispute, us, wto

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The First Word

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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 25 Jan 2013 @ 9:51pm

    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*

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