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WTO ruling emboldens pirates of the Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda win suspension of IP obligations, may set up download hub

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Antigua and Barbuda, the small Caribbean nation perhaps best-known as the birthplace of cricketer Sir Vivian Richards, has won concessions from the World Trade Organisation that will allow it to suspend some of its intellectual property obligations.

The island nation has arrived in this position after fighting against the USA’s anti-offshore-gambling laws, which the Antiguan government says crippled a once-thriving industry.

Harold Lovell, the nation’s minster for finance, the economy, and public administration, says gambling once employed 4,000 citizens, but that number has fallen below 500 in the wake of the USA’s 2003 ban on cross-border gambling.

A dispute over the legality of that ban and any compensation due to Antigua has been burbling along ever since at the World Trade Organisation, which Lovell now says in a statement has come up with “a lawful suspension of intellectual property rights” as a remedy.

Lovell’s statement says “Getting the authorization from the WTO to suspend intellectual property rights does not require Antigua to ultimately resort to that suspension, and the Government remains hopeful that the United States will use the intervening period to engage the Antiguan Government in more productive discussions.”

Lovell’s statement does not mention the resumption of access to gambling sites from the USA, but a previous Antiguan statement says the island nation is unhappy with the USA’s $US500,000 settlement in the affair. Antigua and Barbuda think $3bn is a fairer sum.

The USA is dithering on its response to that claim. Which leads us to a TorrentFreak report suggesting Antigua nation intends to use its rights under the suspension to create a site that makes US-sourced copyrighted material available for download without sending any cash back to the USA.

Such a site could be a replacement money-spinner for the emaciated gambling industry, an act of revenge, or feint that gets the USA’s attention and forces it to get real about a settlement.

All of which leaves a Jack Sparrow quote from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl a decent way to go out.

Over to you, Jack:

“I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly... stupid. ”

®

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