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WTO Approves Suspension of US Copyright in Antigua 225

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the wto-only-applies-to-other-people dept.
hydrofix writes "On Thursday TorrentFreak broke the story (verified by BBC) that the government of Antigua and Barbuda, a tiny island nation on the Caribbean, was planning to launch a legal 'pirate' website selling movies, music and software without paying a penny to U.S. copyright holders. Now, the World Trade Organization has given its final approval for the Antigua government to launch the website. The decision follows from long-running trade dispute between the countries, related to online gambling, which was ruled in Antigua's favor in 2005. After the United States refused to compensate, the WTO granted Antigua the right to 'suspend' U.S. copyrights for up to $21 million annually." From the article: "The Antiguan government further reiterated today that the term 'piracy' doesn’t apply in this situation, as they are fully authorized to suspend U.S. copyrights. It is a legal remedy that was approved by all WTO members, including the United States."
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WTO Approves Suspension of US Copyright in Antigua

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:13AM (#42724823)

    The GPL and friends rely on copyright to function correctly. Can I get someone in Antigua to send me a copy of Linux (or whatever) unencumbered by the GPL for me to start a proprietary fork?

  • Bully tactics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sorensenbill (1931240) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:15AM (#42724845)
    As a US Citizen I'm glad to see them stand up to our government's bully tactics. I hope they follow through and set an example for other countries currently getting strong armed. I think it's pretty funny they knew where to hit the politicians where it hurts, a gut shot to the copyright lobby. I really hate the way this fuels international perception of Americans, our government may feel this way but I'd say it has more to do with campaign money than actually representing the collective public interest.
  • Re:Bully tactics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:23AM (#42724901) Journal

    I think its also a cautionary tale about these world governing bodies and making treaties. Our earliest founders warned us about getting into international entanglements. This is clear example of how these things don't always come out as planned. We might be strong arming China one week, but might have some rulings like these go against our interests another, and it makes us look like real ass hats when we try and argue these international bodies should be abide by one moment and than ignore them the next.

  • Is it legal to buy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:30AM (#42724943)

    Whilst it may be legal for them to sell $21million worth of copyright content, is it legal to import that content, be it via download or otherwise?

    This is the whole grey market import thing ...

    As to "what makes up $21million", that depends on their sticker prices, not court payments.

    They're allowed to sell $21million worth of material, so at $20/movie (for example), that's 1,000,000 movies.
    Or at $2/song, that's ~10,000,000 iTunes tracks.

    Presumably the MPAA/RIAA could garner up a few people and spend $21million "overnight", sacrificing 1 day of sales to mean that the other 364 days of the year would not be free of copyright. But that's tin foil hat stuff and requires that the long term gain be more than the short term loss and for the *AA to recognise that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:32AM (#42724959)

    Can they violate GPL for American written software?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:40AM (#42725019)

    For products falling fully under US copyright like VirtualBox: sure. Same for GNU projects.
    For a lot of other GPL software a large to a majority of the contributors are from Europe and retain their copyright, and those could sue.
    I guess we have a wholly new reason to be against mandatory copyright assignment...

  • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:51AM (#42725103) Homepage

    Import legality won't really be a big issue, because Antigua would be able to determine the import laws. The United States could limit exports, but the United States has already agreed to this plan on the WTO side, and the US has enough enemies that may be willing to act as intermediaries. For the paltry sum of $21 million/year, I doubt anyone will really be able to effectively stop this.

    However, note that the $21 million isn't necessarily sales, but rather copyright license fees (or at least that's what I suspect, because none of TFAs are clear on the matter). If the normal fee to the MPAA/RIAA were ten cents per item, Antigua could sell 210 million copies annually. That's a pretty reasonable amount, and does exactly what it's supposed to do: boost Antigua's economy at the United States' expense.

  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie&hotmail,com> on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @09:55AM (#42725133) Homepage

    But alas, what does happen if you give an Antiguan a copy of something, then the person removes original copyright notices and replaces them with his/her own and distributes that copy to you? It's not anymore the original one, the copyright was stripped from it, you are not in the legal position to determine who the copyright really belongs to, and it could even be considered a derivative work -- does the suspension of copyright allow for a loophole that basically strips copyrights from an existing item and assigns a new one?

  • Re:RIAA maths (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:03AM (#42725219)

    This could be potentially very exciting in terms of orphaned works and works that are in danger of vanishing. That little nation could become the centre of the world's first truly global data archive.

  • Re:Bully tactics (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:48AM (#42725789)

    but might have some rulings like these go against our interests another, and it makes us look like real ass hats when we try and argue these international bodies should be abide by one moment and than ignore them the next

    And that's kind of the problem, the US wants to have their cake and eat it too.

    They insist on free trade, but then they want to be sure to have an advantage. They want keep their own farm subsidies, but penalize anybody else who does it. They want other countries to open up their markets to US products, but not always the reverse.

    So America has a moral objection to gambling, big deal. That doesn't mean that another country should, or that it should be their job to police America citizens.

    America has always been inconsistent in how they do things, and mostly to their own advantage.

    Want to stop international entanglements? Fine. Stop trying to export your copyright laws, stop trying to be sure your own industries have access everywhere with no reciprocation. Stop doing stupid things like tying aid to promises to not teach contraception. Stop sending Monsato seed as food aid which carries an EULA that you won't save any seeds for next year to grow another crop.

    America sticks her nose into everybody else's business, pushes for 'free' trade ... and then tries to be sure that the agreement only goes one way and that they can dictate terms to the countries they sign agreements with.

    By all means, don't get entangled -- but don't act like it isn't the US who initiated these in the first place and then refuses to play by their own rules. Just stop being a bunch of self entitled bastards who think the world owes you something.

  • Out of print (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreyWanderingRogue (598058) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @10:55AM (#42725863)
    Could they sell copies of "Song of the South" or other items that copyright holders in the U.S. refuse to sell?
  • Re:Karma is a.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lazere (2809091) on Tuesday January 29, 2013 @01:17PM (#42728067)
    I doubt it. This is a move fully backed by the WTO, of which the U.S. is a member. Any retaliation on the part of the U.S. for exercising the right the WTO has given them will not be looked on fondly. Odds are, if they do retaliate, they'll get an even bigger slap down.

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