Copyright law and international trade might seem to be a dry and academic exercise for some, but not today, matey. The Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda once operated a booming online gambling industry, but suffered dramatic setbacks after Washington, with the passage of the Federal Wire Act in 2002, prohibited online gambling. The World Trade Organization ruled that the U.S. prohibition on its citizens’ access to Antigua’s online gambling sites constituted unfair trade practice in violation of the General Agreement on Trade and Services Treaty, and after the U.S. lost its appeals in 2005, it had one year to restore access to Antigua’s gambling websites.
Today, the trade blockade remains, despite the WTO ruling. In response to the continued trade blockade, Antigua won a unique remedy on how to recoup their losses: permission by the WTO to ignore U.S. copyright law up to $21 million annually. Unlike Kim Dotcom’s MEGA, this is not an attempt to circumvent copyright law by claiming ignorance, but rather actual permission by the WTO to ignore U.S. copyright law as a sanction. This would give Antigua permission to run a website selling copyrighted movies, music and material without royalty payment to U.S. copyright owners. Litigation over such a site and the value of the copyrighted material will inevitably arise and continue for years. Antigua is set to appear before the WTO on January 28 to seek final permission to run the site. Look forward to that date to see if the WTO resurrects letters of marque for the first time since the nineteenth century.
The pirates of the Caribbean are back, and while they might not look like Johnny Depp, they’ll be offering some cutthroat prices for movies, music, and other American booty.
For more details, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-21193634