Print 27 comment(s) - last by ritualm.. on Jan 29 at 1:39 PM

Site is allowed to make up to $21M USD a year to compensate for "illegal" U.S. ban on internet gambling

This month the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda aims to finally force a World Trade Organization discussion of its plans to launch a "pirate" site, which would profit off of selling cheap bootlegs of copyrighted works owned by copyright holders in the United States.

The unprecedented plan comes courtesy of a bizarre trade conflict between the U.S. and the small Caribbean island nation.  The battle began when the U.S. in 2003 blocked various Antiguan internet gambling portals, such as the World Sports Exchange.  After negotiations collapsed, Antigua took its case to the World Trade Organization, an international arbitrary body that deals with trade disputes.

The WTO ruled in 2005 that the U.S. decision to block Antiguan internet gambling IP addresses violated free-trade since some similar domestic (U.S.) gambling sites were allowed to remain in operation.  The U.S. refused to comply with the ruling.  The refusal brought big changes to the island's economy; 5 percent of the citizens once worked in the high-tech internet gambling industry -- now they were left looking for jobs.

In 2007, a frustrated WTO ruled that Antigua was allowed to suspend U.S. copyrights to the tune of up to $21M USD annually until the U.S. complied with the ruling.  Antigua declared plans to leverage the ruling by launching a portal that sells bootlegs of U.S. copyrighted works at discounted rates, for profit.

Antigua resort
Antigua is a popular tourist destination. [Image Source: Honeymoons Inc.]

The WTO would have to sign off on the plan, but that debate never happened because the U.S. successfully shelved the discussion at the last WTO meeting, calling it "untimely".

In an interview with Torrent Freak, Antiguan government attorney Mark Mendel emphasized that his nation's plans were not "piracy" as the WTO approved of the copyright violations.  He remarks, "There is no body in the world that can stop us from doing this, as we already have approval from the international governing body WTO."

The U.S. is upset about the plan.  It has written a terse letter to the WTO declaring:

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.

But Antigua isn't listening to the threat and is poised to move forward with the plan at this month's meeting.  Exact details of the portal have not been publicized, but Torrent Freak writes that one idea is to grant citizens unlimited access to U.S. copyrighted works for $5 USD/month.  Antigua and Barbuda has a population of about 80,000 people, most of whom live on the island of Antigua.

Sources: Carrbbean 360, Torrent Freak

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By Flunk on 1/25/2013 1:37:11 PM , Rating: -1
This is the funniest thing I've read all week.

I can't believe that anyone would believe than punishing copyright holders who have nothing to do with a Gambling site block makes any sense. But realistically, they're only doing this to try and convince the US to play by the rules. I can only see this ending badly.

How long would it take the US to take over Antigua? My estimate would be about 10 minutes via one threatening phone call.

RE: Hilarious
By Motoman on 1/25/2013 1:45:09 PM , Rating: 4
Or, the USA could just stop being a d-bag towards Antigua. How long would that take?

RE: Hilarious
By Luticus on 1/25/2013 1:59:47 PM , Rating: 1
Yup, The US should stop being a D-Bag; however, I think it's more likely we'll see a trade embargo. :-) The top brass here is a bunch of greedy bastards with an inability to swallow their own pride. Embargo for sure...

RE: Hilarious
By maugrimtr on 1/28/2013 10:17:47 AM , Rating: 2
Such an Embargo would then be in breach of the WTO ruling. Antigua would have their compensation increase to match as well as drawing the ire of all the other WTO members as to what in heck the US is playing at...

RE: Hilarious
By Rukkian on 1/25/2013 2:01:56 PM , Rating: 2
It would take however long it would take for Antiguan Gambling sites to bribe (I mean give campaign contributions) to US congressmen that are bigger than what the industry in the US gives them. That is why this block is in place in the first place more than likely.

RE: Hilarious
By jimbojimbo on 1/25/2013 9:14:35 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. The politicians didn't get their cut so they block it. Somehow this is legal yet enterprising Italian families do it and it's not. What a sham.

RE: Hilarious
By daboom06 on 1/25/2013 2:05:11 PM , Rating: 2
as long as it takes to convince the american populace of a sob story. not saying it's not a worthy pursuit..

RE: Hilarious
By Motoman on 1/25/2013 2:12:31 PM , Rating: 1
...since when has the US government based it's actions on what the American populace thinks or wants?

RE: Hilarious
By ritualm on 1/25/2013 1:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

RE: Hilarious
By stm1185 on 1/25/2013 7:06:33 PM , Rating: 1
The US Navy knows how to deal with pirates! Bye Bye Fiber Lines!

RE: Hilarious
By Devilboy1313 on 1/26/2013 12:20:32 AM , Rating: 2
Except that some of the "top brass" probably has some "enhanced retirement funds" in an Antigua bank.

RE: Hilarious
By roykahn on 1/26/2013 8:44:27 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, I haven't heard that one before. It's a reminder of the term "enhanced interrogation techniques".

RE: Hilarious
By ritualm on 1/29/2013 1:39:54 PM , Rating: 2
We don't call them "interrogation". That is such a dirty, negative word. We prefer the word "interviews".

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