Trade court allows Antigua to violate US copyright

Antigua has won the right to pirate $21 million worth of US copyrights in the World Trade Court, because the US violated the World Trade Organization agreement when it banned Antiguan Internet casinos. The US was an extremely aggressive promoter of the WTO around the world, leaning on countries to drop trade protections that gave their own industries advantages over US competitors -- and now the US is being held to the same standard, hoist on its own petard.
By pressing its claim, trade lawyers said, Antigua could set a precedent for other countries to sue the United States for unfair trade practices, potentially opening the door to electronic piracy and other dubious practices around the world.

Still, carrying out the ruling will prove difficult, the lawyers say.

"Even if Antigua goes ahead with an act of piracy or the refusal to allow the registration of a trademark, the question still remains of how much that act is worth," said Brendan McGivern, a trade lawyer with White & Case in Geneva.

"The Antiguans could say that's worth $50,000, and then the U.S. might say that's worth $5 million." He predicted that "the U.S. is going to dog them on every step of the way."

Link (Thanks, Lee and Robbo!)


  1. “In May, the United States said it was rewriting its trade rules to remove gambling from the jurisdiction of the W.T.O. / Washington has agreed on deals with the European Union, Canada and Japan to change the treaty but not with several other nations, including Antigua.”

    So they convinced every kid in the neighborhood to join their ball game and, when the scrawny kid started beating them, decided to change the rules? Wow, do I live in a classy nation. Makes me proud to pretend I’m Canadian overseas.

    I wonder what the only other example of this kind of ruling was about, who was involved, and how it turned out.

  2. As obnoxious as the record companies and motion picture studios are, it does seem unfair / strange that they are the industries that will be paying the price for the US Govt’s intransigence here.

  3. There’s a difference between the record and movie companies and the government? I thought that they were all subsidiaries of Weyland-Yutani.

  4. Tim @2: It’s even stranger than that. Earlier last week the European Union came to an agreement with the U.S. about compensation for the U.S. withdrawal from “gambling services” covered by the WTO. As a result the U.S. will have to remove barriers to foreign competition in several service fields, including delivery and warehousing.

    So, because the gov’t wants to crack down on gambling, UPS and FedEx face increase competition… I can bet they’re not too happy about this.

    AP story:

  5. I can’t wait until I can get my copy of an Officially Pirated Document, preferably with leather covers and an embossed, hand-numbered certificate signed by an Antiguan government official, certifying that this copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary was ripped off under the auspices of international law.

    I’m serious–how awesome would it be to have a bona fide legal Antiguan knockoff? I’d gladly pay ten times face value of a book, and I bet I’m not alone. Of course, that would probably create a demand for imitation Antiguan piracies. I wonder if Antigua is entitled to trademark protection on that?

  6. They asked for the right to violate patients/copyright BECAUSE they didn’t believe the US would fork over real money. Somehow I think the US will not allow Antiguan knockoffs to be sold legally in the good ‘ole USA, either. We have a long history of saying “screw you” to our foreign partners, based on local law (anywhere US law and Treaties overlap, US law wins out. If the current copyright/patient laws don’t already cover this, I’m sure they soon will.)

  7. “The commerce body found that the U.S. had the right to prevent offshore betting as a means of protecting public order and public morals” (business week). Im not an expert on international trade policy but i do believe that this has more to do with unilateral economic interests than “public order and public morals.” I can’t envision why foreign gambling compromises “public order and public morals” but domestic gambling doesn’t.

    All this being said, i think we can get rid of the WTO–in the long run the competition would be good for the people of our country.

  8. Agent 86, the good ol’ USA has lost the case, and doesn’t have a leg to stand on. Also, Antigua doesn’t have to sell stuff the pirated stuff in the United States. If I understand correctly, they can just rip off a US copyholder and sell the goods elsewhere.

  9. I hope this means that US media-makers can sue Germany for its unfair trade practices — forcing us to censor explicit violence and Nazi references out of our products to the detriment of consumers — so I can start my bootleg Run Lola Run store like I’ve always wanted.

  10. #9, sorry for the delay

    I what meant – don’t think that buying a bootleg from Antigua will make that bootleg legal in the good ‘ole USA.

    What is really amazing to me is that no one has mentioned the true benefit – (I know, Cory and the other operators are big with the whole open data bit) – most all AIDS/HIV medicines (heck, lets just stick with medicines in general) are patented by US interests!

    I can’t off the top of my head remember how much it actually costs to produce the meds, but I do know that it is nowhere near the $1000 per pill/injection that companies charge. This can bring advanced medical therapies to the poor (read “third world countries”)!

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