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Piracy The Internet United States Your Rights Online

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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @04:58PM (#42684385)

    if they call the site "Pirates of the Caribbean"

  • Payment processors (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <.enderandrew. .at. .gmail.com.> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:01PM (#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?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No, but do you think that for an all-you-can-eat direct download netflix-style warez smorgasboard people won't find a way to buy a few bitcoins? :)

    • by WoOS (28173) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:17PM (#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 @05:20PM (#42684637)

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

      • by localman57 (1340533) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:24PM (#42684673)

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

        Can the Antiguans set their own prices? Maybe 1000 movies for a penny? That would let them sell 2 trillion downloads. Not a good way to make money, but kind of a funny way to make the Yankee media companies take it in the shorts...

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:37PM (#42684773)

        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.

        That's actually been happening for some time. The dollar has been on a steady decline for years as more governments and business opt for other forms of currency. The US has reacted by taking unilateral action like this -- essentially doing everything they can to strong-arm the financial world into doing things their way or else. This is one of the motivating reasons behind the creation of the EU. It's the same with the internet, and why the UN is fussing over getting power away from the United States: Especially since we're now talking about creating an "internet kill switch" and are deploying cyberwarfare weapons targetting economic infrastructure of other countries. It's nuts out there. It's no surprise the rest of the world is slowly ganging up on the 3000 ton gorilla in the room and saying "Enough is enough."

        Many countries' relationships with the US have soured due to economic policy. Most of the middle east, for example. Many countries are rejecting our "intellectual property" non-sense as just another way of maintaining economic superiority... and Antigua just called their bluff. The US now either has to throw the country into the same category as, say, Cuba, which will prompt an even stronger international response, or back off.

        I think you know what my vote is: The US would rather implode than admit it was wrong.

    • 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?

      Do you think there's nobody outside the US that buys movies/music/software that are under US copyright protection?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:42PM (#42684805)

      Actually the US government CAN'T stop US Banks from processing legal purchases in other countries. That is the whole point of the violation of WTO treaties. This isn't some Islamic country that has a total blackout on all gambling. The USA legally sanctions all kinds of gambling internally, from rule-bending Indian Casinos, to interstate Powerball, to various sports betting operations. So the USA Federal government is overstepping IT's OWN internal laws to block an international gambling site.

      The USA doesn't enforce child labor laws, rights to unions, and many other things that are basic morality here in the USA when "fair trade" is in play to make a few bucks. So the USA has no precedent to pick one arbitrary moral item to ban.

    • Sure they can, but there are still a few ways to pay which are not completely controlled by the US. And Antigua doesn't have to target customers inside the US. Why not sell stuff to Europeans for 10% of the regular price? I'm sure quite a few people will be willing to buy, giving money to Antigua instead of US companies.

  • ...It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries,” the U.S. added. Antigua doesn’t appear to be impressed much by these threats and is continuing with its plan.

    LOL? Who gives a rat's ass for high-tech in Antigua? I suspect life there is about tourism, boobs and booze!
    High-tech to Antigua is like McAfee or Kim Dotcom parking his yacht there!
  • I Don't Get It (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:05PM (#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.

    • None of those agreements restrict the country from setting allowed prices or default licence. Your free not to sell it in there country but once you do your bound by the local laws.

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:17PM (#42684597)

      According to the WTO, the agreement the US signed, the aggrieved party can extract restitution in the form of selling the offending parties IP. It is all there in the treaty.

    • by Guspaz (556486)

      Because the WTO is levying a penalty against the US for ignoring WTO rulings by allowing Antigua to suspend up to $21 million in US copyrights per year.

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

      by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:29PM (#42684703) Journal

      If you break a treaty with a foreign country, you have no reason to expect that country to respect other treaties you have with them. Since the WTO can't put the US in jail, it has to work with the tools it has.

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      Yeah, there sounds like a lot of bullshit in this...

      "“What was once a multi-billion dollar industry in our country, employing almost 5% of our population has now shrunk to virtually nothing,” Antigua’s High Commissioner to London, Carl Roberts, said previously."

      So, 5% of their population was in a "multi-billion dollar industry, when they have an estimated labor force of 30,000 and a total GDP of $1.6B. Riiiighht. So, where was that extra few billion in the GDP reports? http://research. [stlouisfed.org]

    • 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. 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?

      One of the things the WTO does when a country is found to violate WTO rules on tariffs, and where other methods of resolving the violation have not proven fruitf

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

      by Sloppy (14984) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @07:04PM (#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 Slayer (6656)
        The thing I like about your metaphor best is that you (jokingly, I know), equate "pounding someone's head with a hammer and stealing his wallet" with "hosting copyrighted content for everyone to grab". On several occasions during the last couple of years US foreign policy (and meddling) did indicate that the US strongly thinks these two acts are indeed comparable offenses.
  • Nothing new. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:06PM (#42684463)

    The US imposes its economic interests and cultural values on other sovereign nations every day.

    The US has de facto jurisdiction almost everywhere on this planet, and there's nothing we can do about it as we don't get a vote, we're not Americans, we're just backward savages who don't understand what democracy and freedom means.

    We are allowed to elect our leaders, as long as they are friendly to US interests. As a result we a free to be exploited by the US government and US based corporations in the guise of 'free trade', which in practice means the US government and certain corporations are free to acquire the natural assets of the client states ensuring the local population never sees the benefits.

  • Business plan? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:07PM (#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?

  • a middle finger pointing at like the outline of the United States.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:15PM (#42684577)

    Or did Jamaica copy of it?

    Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
    Put my music on computer chips,
    Minutes after it came out
    Dey had da dvd rips.
    But my encryption was made strong
    And de tracker updated nightly.
    We download in this generation
    Triumphantly.

    Emancipate yourselves from license slavery;
    None but ourselves can free our minds.
    Have no fear for music industry,
    'Cause none of them can stop the files.
    How long shall they make their profits,
    While we stand aside and look? Ooh!
    We need movies and songs and games
    Don't forget e-books

  • Doesnt surpise me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    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

  • It just makes sense.
  • In the first paragraph [caribbean360.com] this quote says:

    The United States has accused Antigua and Barbuda of contemplating “government-authorized piracy” and “intellectual property theft” as the Caribbean nation ...

    either deliberately misleading or is just plain stupid by saying that IP violation is theft. It is not. Theft is a criminal offense, IP violation is a civil one.

  • by detain (687995) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @05:45PM (#42684841) Homepage
    It sounds like a great time to install a pro-US democratic leader. Clearly the people are not being represented here by corrupt Antiguan monarchs and need our help. God bless America.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday January 24, 2013 @07:34PM (#42685865)

    Antigua is being taken for a ride just like they were by Stanford. They are following the stupid advice of this lawyer and paying him millions and in then end it's going to do nothing but cost them more.

    Out here in the real world it doesn't matter than the WTO allowed this. The fact is that the US can take sovereign action against Antigua even if it violates WTO rules. Antigua only recourse is another WTO hearing and sanction at which point the US enacts more measures.

    In the end Antigua will suffer more than they can inflict damage. It would be trivial for the US to bar all US citizens from spending money in Antigua and overnight their economy would collapse as nearly 90% of their tourism is from Americans.

    They are being taken in by another Sanford and he'll make millions and sell them down the river.

    • They can't bar US citizens from spending cash or bitcoins in Antigua. If you are going to subvert US laws you need to do it right. They should ban all major credit cards from their island and only allow cash and bitcoins. They should become a tax haven like the Caymen Islands. They should offer asylum to Julian Assange. They should be 100% passive aggresive to the US government and make us look like dicks when we go into a peaceful country there guns blazing, because we can't figure out a way to get th
      • by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday January 25, 2013 @12:18AM (#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.

        • by Tom (822) on Friday January 25, 2013 @04:28AM (#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 @04:54AM (#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.)

    • It would be trivial for the US to bar all US citizens from spending money in Antigua and overnight their economy would collapse as nearly 90% of their tourism is from Americans.

      Just open up those runways to Canadian charter flights and plenty of tourists will come, tourists that want to stick it to The Man (i.e. certain elements in the US government) for bullying sovereign countries at the behest of their Hollywood paymasters.

      Ecuador keeps getting great press for providing sanctuary to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange (UK ---> Sweden --"temporary surrender"--> US custody), Antigua (already well-liked because of its BD and DVD ripping software tool companies) will get even more posi

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