Antigua Doesn't See Settlement With US Over WTO Plan To Let It Ignore US Copyrights

from the stand-your-ground dept

The back and forth battle between the US and Antigua is long and involved. You can read the background if you want, but the short version is that the US suddenly claimed that Antigua-based online gambling sites were in violation of US anti-gambling laws. Antigua took offense at this, and noted that it appeared to violate free trade agreements between the two countries, most specifically because the US still allowed certainly types of domestic online gambling. The issue went to the WTO multiple times, and every time Antigua won -- and every time the US ignored the decision. At one point, the US pretended it won the ruling, and another time it announced that it was simply, unilaterally, changing its trade agreement with Antigua.

Since Antigua has little leverage against the US, it started to look at other options -- and took serious an idea that some folks first suggested in jest: if the US keeps ignoring the WTO rulings, let Antigua ignore US intellectual property rights. Antigua took this plan to the WTO, and the WTO approved it -- though, limited it to only $21 million worth of intellectual property, which given industry accounting probably represents half an album or so. Either way, the US threatened Antigua not to follow through on this plan, even though the WTO approved it -- and the two sides agreed to negotiate a settlement, with a deadline of today, June 6th.

Well, here we are, and Antigua is saying that (can you believe it?) the US appears to be taking a hardline position on this whole thing and no settlement is expected. It will be interesting to see if Antigua really follows through on ignoring US intellectual property, and how it goes about doing so. Also, it will be worth watching to see how they "count" just how much intellectual property they're ignoring. I'm assuming they won't use RIAA math.
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Filed Under: antigua, copyright, intellectual property, online gambling, united states, wto

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  1. identicon
    Matt, 6 Jun 2008 @ 2:12pm

    nice loophole!

    I've been thinking about this since it started.

    If they don't follow IP, then couldn't they say the value of IP is 0, therefore they don't have to follow any intellectual property rights at all that the US employs?

    Therefore "$21 mil everything" the same as 0 = everything.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Alex, 6 Jun 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Go go go

    As a US citizen who likes to play a little online poker here and there, I hope that Antigua takes the "infinite goods" idea literally when it comes ignoring the IP laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    ehrichweiss, 6 Jun 2008 @ 3:35pm


    .....Bush, thanks to his media cronies, suddenly discovering weapons of mass destruction based in Antigua in...


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Joe Smith, 6 Jun 2008 @ 4:09pm

    trade law

    The US ignoring cases it loses or pretending it was really a win is nothing new.

    If Canada can't get a reasonable response from the US on softwood and Brazil can't get a reasonable response on cotton - what hope for Antigua?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Paul, 6 Jun 2008 @ 4:47pm

    Who is "the US" in this case? Is it specific foreign policy people, diplomats, all of congress, etc..? I ask this because to me it seems like most of the population would be on Antigua's side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2008 @ 4:56pm

    Houston, We have a problem...

    See, if we can't get our millions from all of you then we are not going to play..

    Don't STEAL, your government hates competition..

    Get the pitch forks and torches!! I'm behind you all 100%!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Vuk, 6 Jun 2008 @ 4:59pm

    Me too!

    Guess what? I've decided that I'm going to ignore US IP laws too. Actually, I've been doing so for a while now, and it's working out quite well.

    It almost seems as if the US IP laws were made to be ignored.

    I'm taking a free market approach: Everything in the market is free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Tony, 6 Jun 2008 @ 8:18pm

    Someone please ask me how much I've spend on so said "Intellectual Property."

    Answer: Nothing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Iko, 6 Jun 2008 @ 9:54pm

    If they treat it as $21m in bandwidth, that should be sufficient to make the US declare war on Antigua. The US has declared war for stupider (i.e. pretend) reasons before.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Jesse, 7 Jun 2008 @ 3:27pm

    So if a US citizen downloads a movie from a site based in Antigua, can that citizen be found liable for copyright infringement?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anthony Kuhn, 9 Jun 2008 @ 8:20am

    What we need...

    Is a song! I think Jimmy Buffett ought to write a little ditty about this whole affair and enlist the Parrotheads to fight "the man" and strike a blow for justice in the name of Antigua. No, really, the US should pay up if they expect other countries to pay up when they are found to be infringing on patents. Fair is fair, people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Lester Bird, 9 Jun 2008 @ 8:45am


    The idea that Antigua either A. Has sufficient bandwidth, or B.Can manufacture anything suitable for export is a joke.

    If they were to attempt to violate copyrights, their tin-cans-and-string internet connection would burn out almost instantly.

    This is a place where they can't supply power and water to their own population (think Baghdad with beaches) free movies and music to the world?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    matt, 9 Jun 2008 @ 9:03am

    when do we get

    Couldn't they also just unilaterally change their copyright laws to mirror Russia's?

    Online gambling is illegal!!! Please don't support this vicious destroyer of morals, and while you're at it, the horse track has $1 everything day today, and please stop at a convenience store to buy some lottery tickets on your way to bet on the horses!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Baldwin Spencer, 9 Jun 2008 @ 3:09pm

    Antigua? ?

    This is too funny.

    It would seem that the WTO awarded Antigua Intellectual Property Rights out of pity because apparently Antigua has no intellectual property.

    The WTO ruling gives Antigua the right to infringe on IP because the US allows betting on horse racing, but Antigua wants to be compensated as if all internet gambling were legal in the US. Using "Antigua logic" since aspirin and alcohol are drugs, and they're legal in the US, it's OK to export cocaine because its a drug too, and drugs are "legal".

    Another problem is that any transmission of IP into any other country would expose the recipient to local law. (eg, if I buy a block of hash in Amsterdam, where its legal, it wouldn't then be legal in the US (or Antigua).

    Third, Antigua doesn't enforce any intellectual property rights now anyway. Go into one of the video rental places on the island and just TRY to find a legitimate DVD or VHS tape. Everything is copied down there. By awarding Antigua the right to make and possess copies of pirated movies and software, they essentially gave Antigua something they already have. The only thing there's more of in Antigua than pirated software and movies is sand!

    Last but not least, if they were to go ahead and try to commercialize on this it would kill their tourism industry. Each and every tourist returning to the states would have their luggage CAREFULLY screened on the way back in. Once word of the "welcome home" reception got out nobody would go there anymore.

    It makes you wonder how anyone could be so stupid, but remember, these are people who ASKED to get kicked out of the British Empire, and they've been pulling one sleazy trick after another to make up the support money since then.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    MU, 10 Jun 2008 @ 7:38am

    Re: Antigua? ?

    So you are saying because it is a tiny island with "only tourism" they have no right to defend themselves even more since they have nothing really interesting to protect called IP. What about their culture? their people? the right to defend theirs sovereignty from an International treaty not fulfilled?, which is not Antigua's fault that USA signed.

    I don't know your knowledge about bandwidth but they can hook up easily with fiber links and increase any bandwidth need. Nowadays that it shouldn't be a problem.

    Your speech it is driven in the sense that they have not opportunity so they have not right to argue a fight providing practical reasons of such posisiton.

    There is nothing practical but harmful and despicable when the only possible defense of anybody or country it is aggravate by sleazy tricks of international disbelief of what the USA itself supports: International free trade under a mean of a treaty. Ahh!! but it was a mistake! Well USA can be responsible, after all its a tiny island, it shouldn't hurt that much... Should it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Lester Bird, 10 Jun 2008 @ 10:01am


    >>"I don't know your knowledge about bandwidth but they can hook up easily with fiber links and increase any bandwidth need. Nowadays that it shouldn't be a problem."

    When was the last time you tried to string a fiber link across 3-400 miles of ocean?

    Exactly how much do you know about Antigua??

    This is a "black" country which transshipped arms to the Apartheid government of South Africa when no one else would.

    They allowed Gerald Bull to use their island to develop Saddam Hussain's "super gun".

    They've hosted miscreants from Robert Vesco to John Allen Mohammed.

    Maybe if you picked up a book (I would start with "Caribbean Time Bomb") you would have some idea of the history of this rouge "country"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    jsaitken, 6 Jul 2008 @ 1:20pm

    I think Gerald Bull just wanted to blast satelites into space and go down in history. I could be wrong, but certainly a fixed implacement gun wasn't really going to be much of a threat to anybody (for very long). How'd the thread get subverted onto this digression again?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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