Antiguan government to pirate U.S. media for profit

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Multiple sources with official ties have told TorrentFreak that the Antiguan government intends to set up a website where it will sell copyrighted U.S. media for download as soon as February.

What better place than the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda to launch a state-sponsored, for-profit piracy operation that's partly motivated by revenge?

We are talking, to be clear, about Web piracy.

Multiple sources with official ties have told TorrentFreak that the Antiguan government intends to set up a website where it will sell copyrighted U.S. media for download as soon as February.

Antigua's motivation, and its claimed legal permission to do this, stems from a decade-old trade dispute against the U.S. for banning online gambling. That move devastated Antigua's economy, as online casinos were its second-largest employer. In 2004, the country successfully (and surprisingly, to many) convinced the World Trade Organization (WTO), of which both nations are members, that the move was a violation of Antigua's rights. WTO ordered the U.S. to pay an annual $21 million in compensation since. The U.S. has not complied.

As a result, in 2007, WTO gave Antigua, barely 100 square miles in total and with only about 80,000 people, the right to violate U.S. copyright to the amount of money it was owed.

The U.S. Mission to Geneva, where the WTO is based, unsurprisingly, condemned this possibility in a December 2012 statement:

"If Antigua actually proceeds with a plan for its government to authorize the theft of intellectual property, it would only serve to hurt Antigua’s own interests. Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement that would provide real benefits to Antigua. It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries."

Mark Mendel, legal counsel to Antigua since the initial dispute, told Torrentfreak, that the U.S. rebuttal does not change Antigua's plans.

"There is no body in the world that can stop us from doing this, as we already have approval from the international governing body WTO,” he said.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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