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Responding to US Gambling Law, Antigua Set To Launch "Pirate" Site 377

Posted by timothy
from the mouse-that-roared dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Government of Antigua is planning to launch a website selling movies, music and software, without paying U.S. copyright holders. The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade 'blockade' preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua's favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved 'warez' site."
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Responding to US Gambling Law, Antigua Set To Launch "Pirate" Site

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  • Payment processors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:01PM (#42684403) Homepage Journal

    The United States can't really stop Antigua from running a gambling website.

    They can however forbid US payment processors from processing online gambling payments. If that is how they're stopping Antigua now, I can't imagine this warez site will be different. Do you think US payment processors will handle these payments?

  • I Don't Get It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:05PM (#42684453) Journal

    The Caribbean island is taking the unprecedented step because the United States refuses to lift a trade "blockade" preventing the island from offering Internet gambling services, despite several WTO decisions in Antigua's favor. The country now hopes to recoup some of the lost income through a WTO approved 'warez' site.

    I'm pretty sure Antigua and Barbuda attended and signed the Berne Convention and have joined WIPO [wipo.int]. Furthermore I believe the WTO is fully on board with all that considering their TRIPS agreement [wto.org]. So how in the hell is there such a thing as "a WTO approved 'warez' site" and how on Earth does Antigua think the WIPO is going to view this?

    Note: I'm not saying what they're doing is wrong or right, I'm just asking how they are doing it given their history. I mean, sure, this stuff happens all over China but the government pays all the copyright holders lip service about how they're cracking down on it. If the Chinese government profits from it, they don't do so flagrantly like this appears to.

  • Business plan? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:07PM (#42684477) Journal

    Are they going to be charging for these downloads? Or are they going to be making their money through ads, the way MegaUpload did?

  • Re:Who loves USA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:14PM (#42684559)
    As far as foreign policy goes? Israel. Duh. They might be acting upset that Obama would dare suggest it's even possible that what they're doing could be wrong, but they still know the US and Obama are more pro-Israel than most of the world, and certainly anyone nearby.

    As far as the country itself? I'm guessing there are a few countries smart enough to realize that our trade policy isn't the best way to define a whole country.
  • Doesnt surpise me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:16PM (#42684587)

    As a former resident of another Caribbean nation, this isn't very surprising outside the fact the government is directly involved.

    Where I lived, there was the government "Ministry of Intellectual Property & Copyright" or something very similar, yet opposite the building was a street seller with counterfeit DVD's and CD's for sale.

    The fact is in these countries, you pretty much can't buy music or movies legitimately that are otherwise available internationally. There's not enough market to make it worth setting up distribution networks and retailers. So what does get into these countries is often bought at retail in the US, shipped to the country, heavily taxed on import, then 100% markup on the total.

    They often don't even bother to make promotional youtube videos for mainstream musicians available in these countries, so why would they bother actually trying to sell to a non-existant, economically fragile country of a couple hundred thousand people, many of whom are in poverty.

  • by WoOS (28173) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:17PM (#42684589)

    The USA can definitely block payments from its citizens by enacting an appropriate law. But then there is the rest of the world.
    And with it comes a catch. If the US goverment forced e.g. American Express to not process transactions from non-US citizens with Antigua, it might cause those non-US citizens to change to e.g. Master Card or another non-US based payments processor, weakening American Express and thus the US economy.
    Of course the U.S. could threaten any payment processor - U.S.-based or not - with sanctions but since Antigua's move seems to be a WTO-approved measure, those sanctions would probably be found illegal again by the WTO allowing further compensations. And soon we are in a full-scale economic war.

    All that just because of $21 million yearly revenue loss of the US media industry (which is what the WTO allowed Antigua)?

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:20PM (#42684637)

    I'm not sure the United Corporations of America really care that much about what the WTO thinks.

  • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:31PM (#42684717)

    Want an analogy? American alcohol companies get pissed they're not allowed to sell to Shariah-law nations, so the US decides to just steal their shit until they capitulate. Commodore Perry type shit. That's what this is. It's bad for everybody.

    No, the analogy is flawed because US sites do online gambling. The analogy is if the US blocked all Toyotas from being sold because it would help GM make more money faster, while GM was still able to make all they wanted. Toyota/Japan complains it violates a treaty, and the US tells them "yes it does, go fuck yourself" and Japan wins the lawsuit in international court. The US fails to abide by their treaty they signed and ratified, so the international body agrees to waive other terms of the treaty that were binding on Japan.

    This isn't about them being wronged, it's about them not respecting the sovereignty of another nation. They cannot dictate our laws, regardless of if those laws are dumb.

    So, if the rest of the world doesn't respect US copyrights, but instead writes their own independent laws, we should invade them and kill them for not giving us the profit we feel we are due?

  • by ak3ldama (554026) <james_akeldama AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:40PM (#42684795) Homepage Journal
    See the "choice" of the US [npr.org] to subsidize cotton growers in Brazil due to the WTO and Brazillian influence upon US Coorporations. This is one of those things that the typical media does not like to cover but NPR did. It is also one of those things, that once you hear about, you don't forget. So you are sort of correct: we do not care at all about what the WTO thinks until we are persuaded otherwise.
  • Re:Who loves USA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rmdingler (1955220) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @06:54PM (#42684925)
    The prime minister, ambassador, king, el presidente.......whatever you call him to his face, is still a politician in his country of origin and very likely to represent the sentiment of his populace when describing his sentiment for yours. And by the by, there's the answer to your foreign policy question of the demi-decade, "Why do we continue to support Israel, at the expense of relations with every Arabian Middle Eastern Nation?" Because if there was a fight at the bar we all go to, we could be quite certain the Israelis and Brits would get beat up with us (and maybe even the Canadians and the Aussies). After that it gets pretty thin. Whether or not we kick Israel to the curb, no Muslim nation is really in our Alliance for a coon's age.
  • Re:Thanks, Antigua! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @08:02PM (#42685549)

    The fact that the US authorizes gambling in the US is not germane.
    The US Authorizes the sale of Cigarettes in the US too. Doesn't mean you can start mail ordering them over the internet.

    You conveniently seem to forget that Gambling EVERYWHERE in the US is regulated by the US, Various States, and Various Tribes under the BIA/OIG.
    And as such there is some measure of control and taxation, and control of the odds, inspection of hardware, etc.

    Antigua does not allow control or regulation by US authorities. Antigua want's to do business in the US, but ignore US law.
    Why is that so hard for you to understand?

  • Re:I Don't Get It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @08:04PM (#42685579) Homepage Journal

    They're doing it flagrantly because it's explicitly tit-for-tat. It's their way of pointedly asking "Do we have rules or not?"

    Let's say you and I are sociopathic assholes, so whereas most people might have some kind of implicit social contract, and a sense of how people should act decently to one another, we're jerks and write up and agree to some formal rules. Among these rules are things like "Neither party will ever hit the other in the head with a hammer and then steal their wallet while the victim is incapacitated." Call that the WIPO rule.

    We have another rule too. It's "Neither party will ever vandalize the other's car." Call that the WTO rule.

    Then I go and vandalize your car, totally in violation of the rules. I don't deny it, either. Instead, I explain I had good reasons to do it. "I really wanted to vandalize your car, and it looked so vulnerable. I just couldn't help it!" but whether I had a good reason or not, you claim I broke our agreement. You might not feel all that hurt about the car, but breaking the agreement .. oh dear. We're sociopaths, but we're not uncivilized, are we?

    After my amazing explanation for why I did it, you ask me: "Are you going to do it again?" and I answer "Yeah, probably. Your car still does look pretty vandalizable, and I really like vandalizing cars." You answer "What about our agreement?" and I just shrug. You ask, "Are our agreements important?" and I shrug again!!

    You go see our mutual acquaintances, perhaps some people with whom I also have some agreements. They're a little concerned to hear I value our agreements so little. Will their cars be next? They think it over and say, "Yeah, Sloppy broke his agreement to not vandalize your car. You should get even."

    So you do. You hit me in the head with a hammer and I wake up without a wallet. You do it openly, too. Our acquaintances nod with approval, even though you're breaking the agreement now. I ask, "How can you do that?!?"

    You explain: if I think the rules are so important, and I have such a problem with being hit with hammers, THEN MAYBE I SHOULD STOP FUCKING AROUND WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S CARS.

    I don't know what I'll do. I still really do like vandalizing cars. I'd like to vandalize your car again, and that other dude with whom I have a no-vandalize agreement. But I'm not sure I like this hammers development. OTOH, I don't know, maybe it's worth it. The hammers hurt and I don't like losing my wallet all the time, but the cars! Oh, the cars! That's so much fun.

  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday January 25, 2013 @01:18AM (#42687895)

    The US government can ban all travel by US citizens to Antigua. They can make it a criminal offense for an american citizen to spend money or provide money to the nation. They can bar all US financial groups from doing business with the island.

    Enacting any of these measures would immediately halt all US tourism in Antigua. This tourism is 90+% of the economy. I'm sure the WTO would allow Antigua to retaliate with equal sanctions to almost no effect to the US but the complete destruction of the Antiguan economy.

    They are playing with fire and anyone that suggests it's a good idea is a moron. But make no mistake, the lawyer that convinced them to take this path has already extracted his pound of flesh in the form of millions of dollars. In the end it will end just like the Sanford affair, an american will make off with millions of dollars of Antiguan money and the average Antigua citizen will suffer.

  • Re:Who loves USA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J Story (30227) on Friday January 25, 2013 @02:33AM (#42688259) Homepage

    As a Canadian, I like the connection we have to Australia through being in the Commonwealth, and never saw why so many of you guys got bent out of shape over what is really just a figurehead...

    Agreed. As a fellow Canadian, I don't see the point in introducing a political element (in the form of elections) for a figurehead head of state. It seems to me that Canada, for one, has a value-for-money arrangement: Although the Governor General's office uses millions of dollars, for functionaries, upkeep of grounds, security, etc., the GG himself gets only a modest salary -- it was around $120,000 the last I recall. In addition, we get to have a monarch on the cheap: the UK provides housing, upkeep, perks, etc., while we only have to provide security (and room and board, I guess) when one of the family drops by on an official visit -- which is not often. For this comparatively small sum, Canada gets a hardworking, apolitical individual, backed by serious constitutional legal minds for those infrequent times when use of real power is called for (i.e. on the advice of the prime minister, deciding whether to prorogue parliament or call an election.)

    For similar reasons, Canada's judiciary is appointed, not elected: these guys are doing serious jobs which require them to be apolitical.

  • by Tom (822) on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:28AM (#42688879) Homepage Journal

    Always these purely theoretical "we can destroy them" delusions. *sigh*

    First of all, I don't know where you get the 90% figure from, a quick Google shows other numbers. Wikipedia has a detailed article [wikipedia.org] putting the figure at around 60% GDP and 50% of the jobs. But those are very old numbers. But it's all tourism, not just US tourism.

    Second, the US is quick at hurting other nations, but not so quick at hurting potential voters. Quick, name three sanctions or other non-military attacks on foreign nations that the US has conducted in, say, the past 20 years that the voters have even noticed.

    Third, the US has already gambled away most of the good will it had accumulated in WW1, WW2 and the Cold War. Smashing down a tiny country would do a lot of reputation damage. Contrary to what rednecks believe and the public propaganda tells you, the US is extremely dependent on the rest of the world. Luckily, it goes both ways for most powerful nations on the globe, so there's no real danger of escalation, but if you insist on these "we could kill them" delusions, do keep in mind that if the rest of the world would ever band together and cut all trade to the US, you would have lights out within a month.

  • by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Friday January 25, 2013 @05:54AM (#42688975) Homepage

    The US is already getting enough heat, both foreign and domestic, about their long-standing Cuban oblivion policy. It is not at all clear the administration wants to put political capital into the same sort of programme directed against Antigua. It might just be easier, in the end, to allow Antigua to run their gambling site. Or give them foreign aid to cover their losses from not doing so.

    If this is the sort of calculation Antigua has made, and they figure the odds are in their favour, then this is a fair bet to make. It will be interesting to see.

    (What is presumably not going to actually happen is the mp3 site, that's just a negotiating card to force the hand of the US.)

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