WTO gives Antigua the right to sell pirated American copyrighted goods

The WTO agreement is supposed to guarantee level playing fields for its member states, allowing each to sell into the others' markets. But US law bans online gambling, which is the major export from Antigua. Antigua has been going back and forth with the USA in trade court since 2003, and now the WTO has agreed that the US has violated its treaty obligations. By way of reparations, the WTO has given Antigua permission to set up a kind of legal pirate market, where American copyrighted works can be sold without permission or royalties. The initial ruling came in 2007, and was affirmed on Monday. Antigua has announced plans for a site for downloading US software, music and movies.

Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a comment that the U.S. left his Government no other option than to respond in this manner. Antigua’s gambling industry was devastated by the unfair practices of the U.S. and years of negotiations have offered no compromise.

“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Lowell says.

“If the same type of actions, by another nation, caused the people and the economy of the United States to be so significantly impacted, Antigua would without hesitation support their pursuit of justice,” the Finance minister adds.

Antigua’s Legal “Pirate Site” Authorized by the World Trade Organization [Ernesto/Torrentfreak]


  1. Wait…gambling is an export?

    Edited to add – Based on this logic will drug exporting countries soon be allowed to establish similar sites, since the US outlaws the import of their products? Not kidding – I am just curious what make online gambling different than, say, cocaine.

      1. I believe coca leaves are legal for domestic use in Bolivia, and maybe khat in some east African country. What’s to stop a country that has any exportable item illegal in the USA from making a similar claim? Can we sue Saudi Arabia because they won’t allow the importation of American-made porn? Or sue Singapore because they banned chewing gum?

      1. The fact that the US allows home-grown gambling sites to operate within its borders, but blocked those from Antigua.  That’s the “shiestie logic” that does so.

        The US is not permitted by the WTO to block foreign companies from its legitimate markets.  By allowing US-owned gambling sites, they legitimized the market.  Blocking Antiguan sites was an unfair trade practice.

        1. The US doesn’t allow online gambling from US companies either. It allows location based gambling. And as far as I know there is nothing stopping an Antiguan company from opening a casino in the United States. So, I don’t think that’s a valid argument. If the US allowed US companies to have online gambling, this would make sense. Otherwise, I call shenanigans.

          1. The US isn’t shutting down the Vegas or Atlantic City casinos, are they? So, gambling in the US is legal in places that allow it. And I can’t be arrested for driving up to Vegas to gamble, even if gambling is illegal where I live (which it is). The WTO simply decided that my visiting a casino’s Web site is basically the same thing as my visiting the casino, and under the rules the US agreed to it can’t allow people to visit it’s own casinos while barring them from visiting foreign casinos.

            Now, if the US wrote into law that if you don’t live where gambling is legal, say California, you can’t legally visit someplace that gambling is legal, say Nevada, for the purpose of gambling. *Then* the US could probably bar US citizens from using Antiguan gambling sites, because it’s now treating US and Antiguan casinos the same. But the politicians wouldn’t ever go for that, gambling in the US is too big a business and generates too much money.

          2. Except …..They are treating US and Antiguan casinos exactly the same right now.

            You are welcome to go to the casino to gamble. If someone wants to take a trip to Antigua to gamble they are perfectly within their rights to do so.

            However you can’t just pop onto a Nevadan Casino’s website and gamble from California. Hence the same goes for Antiguan casinos.

            I fail to see an issue.

        2. Really don’t bother following online gambling but the few times I have come across blerbs about it. It has typically been gambling sites operating within the US having their sites shut down and assets frozen.

          So I am inclined to believe that they aren’t exactly nurturing US based gambling sites.

        3. Unless this is some sort of fallout from the short period during which some on-line casinos did operate in a legal grey area in the US. A grey area that was cleared up when they were all made illegal. If that’s the case then this is extra stupid.

    1. If money flows from the U.S. to Anitgua for some good or service, that is an Antiguan export.

      Also: Japanese student goes to Harvard and pays tuition, her education is a U.S. export

  2. Republicans like shutting down treaties like the one on disabled kids recently but love their “fair” trade treaties. Good to see one bite companies in the butt.

    1. It might be risky if you’re in a country where your local music and movie industry advocates sue people for a disproportionate amount for illegally downloading a single song/movie.

    2. Under Antiguan law, it presumably would be legal to use the service. Under U.S. law, it presumably would not. Under international law, it’s not clear at this stage, but in practice international law tends not to affect private citizens (well, at least not U.S. nationals in their own country).

  3. They may have won this battle, but I fear it just means that they haven’t read much in the way of history books. Many a country in Latin America decided they didn’t like the US policy on fruit production, say, and suffered consequences when they made changes to their local laws.

    Even now, hordes of brightly colored drones with are probably crowding the Antiguan airspace, readying to unleash the Happiest Bombs on Earth.

  4. Bit of missing context. as this has been going on for… a year, I think.  The US outlaws all internet gambling, except for on horse races, (guess who paid for that exception).  According to treaty obligations, the US can legally ban internet gambling on moral grounds, but only if they ban all internet gambling.

    Wiki has more info on it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antigua#Internet_hosting_and_gaming

    There are basically saying that internet gambling is a pox upon the population, that destroys familes and leaves people destitute… unless they are betting on horses; horses are OK.

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