The Government of Antigua has plans to launch a website that can legally sell movies, music, and software without paying U.S. copyright holders, according to TorrentFreak. How can the small island country in the Caribbean get away with this? Well it all goes back to the United States issuing a trade blockade preventing the country from offering Internet gambling services to citizens in the United States.
This blockade is still in place despite several World Trade Organization decisions in its favor. Antigua's government claims that the blockade hurt the country's workforce - they claim five percent of all Antiguans worked at gambling related companies but because the U.S. prevented the island from accessing its market the industry collapsed.
Antigua filed a dispute at the World Trade Organization, and in 2005 it ruled that the US government's refusal to let Antiguan gambling companies access their market violated free-trade. In 2007 the WTO granted Antigua the right to suspend U.S. copyrights up to $21 million annually.
A source close to Antigua’s Government tells TorrentFreak that the country will soon capitalize on the ruling. The plan is to launch a website that sells U.S. media to customers worldwide, without compensating the makers. Antigua presented the issue to the WTO meeting last month, but the U.S. blocked it from being discussed because the request was "untimely." Antigua will try again this month to present its plan, and if they succeed their media hub will be up and running shortly thereafter.
Antigua’s attorney Mark Mendel would not give any details to TorrentFreak about the country's plans but he did point out that the term "piracy" doesn’t apply to the country's plan because the WTO has already granted it the right to suspend U.S. copyrights.
"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," Mendel told the publication.
The United States is strongly objecting to this plan:
"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," the U.S warned in a letter to the WTO last month.
The U.S. government goes on to say that Antigua will ruin their chances of getting a settlement should they approve the site and not compensate rights holders in the U.S.
"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," the U.S. added.
Antigua does not seem all that concerned about what the U.S. has to say about this and plans to move forward with the site as soon as it hears from the WTO.