Antigua Preparing to Move Forward with WTO Authorized Rejection of US Copyrights

By Dennis Crouch

Over the past several decades, the US has been at the forefront of pushing through low international trade barriers and strong intellectual property rights. The current scheme is organized through the World Trade Organization and the vast majority of nations have signed-on as members. The WTO has a dispute resolution mechanism that allows one country to bring another country to task for failing to abide by their trade-related promises. Most of these cases involve either import restrictions placed on certain goods or the “dumping” of goods.

Since around 2003, the US has taken fairly effective measures to destabilize the market for cross-border gambling and betting services. In response to those measures, the country of Antigua and Barbuda filed a WTO dispute complaining that the US action was a trade violation and, the WTO panel agreed with Antigua. The particular findings are that “three US federal laws (the Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act) and the provisions of four US state laws (those of Louisiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota and Utah) on their face, prohibit … cross-border supply … contrary to the United States’ specific market access commitments for gambling and betting services.” [Link]

The penalty for a WTO violation typically involves the WTO allowing counter-measures by the injured party – typically their own import quota or restriction. In countries with a strong domestic industry, the import quota can provide a strong, be it temporary, boost. However, those quotas also injure local consumers who typically pay more for lower quality goods or services. Antigua’s particular situation is also unique because the country does not have much of any domestic industry beyond tourism (including Gambling). As such, a typical quota does not make sense as a penalty against the US.

At the end of the day, the WTO authorized Antigua to suspend its TRIPs obligations with respect to U.S. intellectual property at a cost to the US.

Antigua is now rapidly moving forward with a monetization scheme that would essentially create a local market for copyrighted work owned by U.S. entities, but where no royalties are paid to the U.S. copyright holders. Antiguan legislation is expected in the upcoming weeks followed by bids from private contractors to build-out the online marketplace.

77 thoughts on “Antigua Preparing to Move Forward with WTO Authorized Rejection of US Copyrights

  1. Several points are left out: First, Antigua claimed 3.4 BILLION in damages, yet the WTO award was only for 21 million, less than one half of one percent of Antigua’s claim. Second, Antigua has been an international pariah since they were kicked out of the UK in 1981. Since then Antigua has played host to illegal arms dealers (Gerald Bull), the second largest Ponzi scheme in history (Stanford International Bank), and was the training ground for John Allen Mohammad and Lee Malvo, the “DC Sniper”. The reason they are trying copyright infringement is that they don’t produce 21 million in legitimate exports, they live on foreign aid and money sent back by Antiguans living in the First World.

    1. Not sure “trying” is the right word.Although as you point out in comparison to what they were asking for, “successfully achieved” doesn’t seem quite right. Nonetheless, the WTO decision is final and the US (or more correctly, the holders of rights in the US) are now on the hook for 21 million annually.

      1. You’re right. “threatening” is a better word. They chose this remedy thinking that Microsoft, Apple, and the big entertainment companies would pressure the US government to give them more than 21 million in trade sanctions. The US has called their bluff, and Antigua, like the dog who actually catches the car, has no idea what to do now.

        1. While not the Billion dollar prize they asked for, that is still a pretty nice car to catch.Are you saying that you would decline the $$ 21 million annual car?

            1. They were aiming for a Lexus.They got a twenty one million dollar a year “tricycle.”That’s one he11 of a tricycle.And I see no one saying that they will not accept such a ‘paltry’ award, do you?

            2. Its been seven years. Now they are forming a committee. Setting up this will require infrastructure, organization and regulation. Antigua has had no success in creating any of these things in their history. Have you been there? Driven the roads? Been to the Hospital? The National Library? The idea that they could successfully implement this sanction is nil.

            3. Because it’s a TRADE SANCTION not cash. Recovering it wil require effort, organization and resources. This is a country that has to have Columbia put up their street signs! Their National Library has been under construction for almost two decades and they only have a quasi First World hospital is because it was financed by Ponzi Schemer Sir Allen Stanford. I don’t see them pulling it off.

            4. Sure, it is a trade sanction. How familiar are you with digital goods?There’s not a lot of effort needed. As I said, some generators and some air conditioning are well worth the investment for twenty one million annually.I’m not sure what you were building there for ten years, but I can guarantee you, this is very easy money – even if it is a mere “TRADE SANCTION.”

            5. Any effort is too much effort for Antiguans. That’s why they rely on theft (SIB, Half Moon Bay), and other shady dealings (Space Research) for money. Now they’re selling passports to Allah only knows who instead of producing legitimate products and services. Generators require fuel and maintanance. If Antiguans could pull that off, why don’t they have reliable water, telephone or electrical service they had before the British abandoned them?

            6. You think theft does not take effort?It’s all about the balance between risk and reward. The twenty one million dollars annually now comes with zero risk.Generators take no more effort than tending to the other spoils they may enjoy from ‘their’ theft. Unless of course, you think they simply steal to steal and then cannot make any effort to do anything with their booty…And I am sure you realize the difference in scale from supplying a single concern with providing reliable utilities for an entire country, right?But please, you must be right since you lived there and twenty one million dollars simply isn’t worth anyone’s effort (sigh).

            7. I would recommend you pack your gun, a flashlight and some water purification tablets and go see for yourself.

            8. “It’s easy to leave Antigua a millionaire, just come with two million and get out in a month!”~Captain John Fraser ~Yacht Sentio ~ Antigua WI

    1. that would be GREAT! The high temperature and humidity and salt air, paired with an electrical system that goes out on a weekly basis, sometimes for days at a time, is a PERFECT place for servers!

        1. Yea, there’s a funny history about Antiguans and generators. My favorite joke from there is: What did Antiguans use for light before candles? Lightbulbs!

          1. Be careful what you sign up to – the lesson here is not that Antigua is a pirate nation, it is that the US signed up to an agreement and then reneged on that agreement. That they reneged to Antigua is a bit of a red herring.

            1. Certainly.You do understand that people don’t care about that difference when they can obtain digital goods at a fraction of what is normally charged, right?

            2. You think Antiguans are going to give away money???? That’s even more amusing than them being able to run a commercial website!!!

            3. Make up your mind – either they are going to give away money or they are not going to give away money.They are by not being able to pick up the given twenty one million dollars annually, or they are by leaving that free money (even if it is just a trade sanction) uncollected.Again, you do not seem to be familiar with just how easy it is to deal in digital goods. If they can set up and run billion dollar scams, they can grab the twenty one million dollars a year.

            4. So if they have the “right” to steal $21 million, but then give it away, how does that benefit them? You don’t seem familier with basic mathematics.

  2. I understand the WTO scheme up to a point. But I agree with anon’s implications, it seems irrational to allow them to ignore a completely unrelated agreement. To my knowledge, media companies had nothing to do with these gambling acts. Yet they are going to be the one’s punished by this.Also, the last sentence references an online marketplace. So let me get this straight, not only can they ignore IP rights in Antigua, but they are free to export those products as well? Forget Chinese DVDs, Antigua here I come.

    1. they are free to export those products as wellI don’t think they can legally export those products to the US or anywhere else where the copyrights are recognized.media companies had nothing to do with these gambling acts. Yet they are going to be the one’s punished by this.Because those Antigua royalties are all that’s keeping media companies afloat. I will say this: I’ll bet the gaming machines and entertainment they come up with in Antigua will be a lot more creative and entertaining than the ones they come up with here, where people have to worry about copyright infringement.

      1. Wait did I miss something, they can only ignore copyrights as it applies to gambling?I assumed they could freely sell copies of iron man 3 on blu-ray.

        1. they can only ignore copyrights as it applies to gambling? I assumed they could freely sell copies of iron man 3 on blu-ray.That’s correct. But they can also make an Iron Man 3 slot machine. Or put on an elaborate Iron Man 3 musical production, featuring the music from the back-catalogs of Justin Bieber and The Doors. Or make Iron Man 4: Season of the Witch, including a climactic scene where Iron Man shoves Mickey Mouse up Godzilla’s butt.

            1. Actually, it’s 3.4 billion reasons, but that was an Irishman’s creativity, not an Antiguan’s.

            2. No, I will show you the twenty one million ACTUAL reasons already awarded. And I can show you these reasons right now (not sure about your verb tenses in our other conversation (specifically, the “ing”).If I were the Antiguan government (or if I had the independent means), I would be racing to copy and sell as much and as fast as possible in order to grab as much of that twenty one million per year prize.Maybe that is chicken feed for you (God bless you if that is the case), but for Antigua, that is huge.See link to en.wikipedia.org

            3. Antigua’s last scam (Stanford International Bank) defrauded US$ 7 Billion.These thieves are looking for a bigger payout.

            4. “These thieves”You sound as if there is only one set, and that twenty one million is beneath their notice.On the other hand you sound in how much they lack in basic support material.Sorry but such extreme all-or-nothing is simply not credible. I am pretty sure that no matter how many times you may have visited Antigua, your visits won’t change human nature and leave twenty one million a year on the table.

            5. I didn’t “visit”, I lived, built and worked there for almost a decade. Do some reading. “Carribean Time Bomb” would give you a good start. Then look into how they handled the US$ 7 Billion dollar fraud in their “Staford International Bank” Ponzi scheme.

            6. You do not have to explain any such tricks.You might have to explain why you think such tricks somehow make it impossible for someone in Antigua to take advantage of twenty one million dollars annually just sitting there waiting to be grabbed.Do you realize how easy this would be to actually do? I think not.

            7. It’s not ready to be grabbed, it’s a trade sanction, and trade involves resources, capital, creativity, and infrastructure. None of these things exist on Antigua. Are you confusing Antigua (the kicked out “country” with Antigua Guatemala, which is an actual city?

            8. mrmanhattan, My point (which you seem insistent on ignoring) is that taking advantage of digital goods does not take the level of resources, capital, creativity or infrastructure that you think it does. There is confusion here, but it is not on my end.

      2. Lot more creative……because they can copy…No wait, Copying has ZERO creativity.Must be more of that ‘satire’ thing.

        1. “No wait, Copying has ZERO creativity.”Poor fellow. He not only has no idea how satire works, he also doesn’t know the first thing about creativity.

          1. Leopold, your own satire meter is off – I am not talking about derivative works, or the fusion of old works with creativity – copying – and copying alone – has ZERO creativity.You are doing that blind bull thing again…

            1. copying – and copying alone – has ZERO creativity.The choice of what to copy can be creative, can’t it? Golly, I would think that figuring out what to copy could be protected as “a business method” on your planet.

            2. he choice of copying? LOL – go ahead and try that defense.Defense to what? All I’m saying is that the process of choosing what to copy is the sort of “business decision” that could be protectable by one of your beloved “business method patents”. You’re not going to deny that, are you?

            3. What point are you trying to make? Are you attempting to do that “insults and innuendo” thing you always accuse others of?Are you trying to make a point that business method patents are not allowed by law? Or that business method patents have been granted throughout the US patent office history?If you are, then you are (again) failing.

            4. What point are you trying to make?That you’re a hypocrite who will reflexively defend patents on pretty much anything, including “ideas for making money”, but when the rubber meets the road you run off with your tail between your legs leaving the usual trail of insults in your wake.That’s my point.Here’s another chance for you to clear things up: Is the process of choosing what to copy the sort of “business decision” that could be protectable by one of your beloved “business method patents”? Yes or no. Really easy, straightforward question for you.

            5. Your point is off kilter.My reply already indicates that. You seem to want to make it a point that business method patents are somehow not covered under US patent law.They are.They have been for a very long time now..As to your “really easy straight forward “question,” the answer is “it depends.” You need to provide more than a glib one liner for me to determine whether the method you wish to claim is protectable by a patent.As to the name-calling of “hypocrite.” Well, Malcolm, no one – and I do mean no one is more of a hypocrite than you. Your favorite meme being ‘accuse-others-off-that-which-you-do’ and all.As to run with my tail between my legs, well, there is no such running going on (leastwise from me). You, on the other hand, continue to avoid finishing conversations (even as you QQ about me asking you a question that you never answered from Leopold).Just more of the same from you Malcolm.

            6. Malcolm calls me a hypocrite, and his post remains.I return the favor and my post is deleted?Mommy, why is that man >still naked?

      3. “I don’t think they can legally export those products to the US or anywhere else where the copyrights are recognized.”I don’t know about that. Remember the situation where somebody was lawfully purchasing textbooks lawfully produced in India, and importing them for sale into the US, notwithstanding the US copyright? The source material to be copied has to come from somewhere. If that source material is lawfully obtained (from wherever), lawfully imported into Antigua, and lawfully copied, why would that not satisfy the international copyright convention?I understand that is an over-simplification, and I don’t want to get into it any further, just something to think about. It might actually be somewhat of a sticky wicket. Yes, the textbooks were originally produced and sold by, I think, a wholly-owned Indian subsidiary of the US copyright-holder, but remember, copyright owners have to play by the law. If “the law” turns out to be that they are not entitled to royalties from something produced in Antigua, then so be it.Also, I’m not sure, but IIRC there is a limit to the amount of injury to which US copyright-holders will be subject as a result of this WTO action.

        1. “I don’t know about that. Remember the situation where somebody was lawfully purchasing textbooks lawfully produced in India, and importing them for sale into the US, notwithstanding the US copyright?”Wasn’t the argument that the copyright was “exhausted” or whatever in that case since the publisher already made their profit in the country where the books were first sold?

          1. IF the WTO order does serve as a de facto authorization, any such copies would exhaust the holder’s rights.When the WTO says to the detriment of the US, what it may mean is to the detriment of the US rights holders.I just wonder who will keep an accounting and an eye on the annual tab?

        2. Remember the situation where somebody was lawfully purchasing textbooks lawfully produced in India, and importing them for sale into the US, notwithstanding the US copyright?I do. But, as you seem to understand, purchasing a copy from the copyright owner in Country A and re-selling that copy in the US is different from making an unauthorized copy and selling that copy in the US.

            1. after reading the file, I’m pretty sure it does.What part of “the file” makes you think that Antigua can manufacture copyrighted works and legally export them into the US?

            2. Most specifically, the final opinion. You should try reading something before you choose to comment on it.

            3. Most specifically, the final opinion.Please tell everyone the page and paragraph where it says “Antigua can manufacture copyrighted works and legally export them into the US,” and provide us all with the most relevant quote.

            4. Already done, Malcolm. I provided the quote a couple of days ago.I suggest that you attempt to visit the WTO website and actually read for yourself instead of wanting me to spoon feed you.

        3. So if I buy marijuana legally in Colorado, it would be legal to possess it in Antigua? Is that where you’re going with this?

      4. While typically, a sector for sector trade is contemplated, the analysis here does go further.”As we have explained above, we believe that the range of obligations to be considered for the purposes of a determination of whether suspension is practicable or effective in the same sector is not limited to those sub-sectors in which specific commitments have been made.”and “In light of our determinations in sections (b) and (c) above, we find that Antigua could plausibly arrive at the conclusion that it was not practicable or effective to suspend concessions or other obligations under the GATS in respect of Sector 10, and determine that suspension of concessions or other obligations is not practicable or effective, with respect to the same sector as that in which a violation was found.”so…”Accordingly, we find that Antigua may seek to suspend obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.”In other words…The penalty applies to ALL SECTORS.

    2. ” it seems irrational to allow them to ignore a completely unrelated agreement.”That’s what trade wars about about, and yes, the reason we don’t often see them in this day and age is because they’re irrational.

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