The little guy may get his licks in! The US blocked access to Antigua’s internet sports booking business, which, at one point, accounted for 5% of the islands employment. In 2003 the island took the US to the World Trade Organization and it won! The WTO ruled that the “… US had adopted measures that interfered with its obligation to provide free trade in betting and gambling services with Antigua.” As with a number of the decisions that have gone against the US in the WTO, the US responded by simply ignoring the decision and doing nothing about it. Antigua has finally had enough.
As discussed in a fascinating article in TorrentFreak, the key is that in 2007 the WTO granted Antigua the right to “suspend U.S. copyrights up to $21 million annually. TorrentFreak is reporting that the Antiguan government now plans to launch a website selling US media worldwide without providing any compensation.
As the article reports: “Antigua’s attorney Mark Mendel told TorrentFreak that he can’t reveal any details on the plans. However, he emphasized that the term ‘piracy’ doesn’t apply here as the WTO has granted Antigua 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 us. TorrentFreak is in the process of obtaining details of the content to be offered and the prices to be charged. One option would be to ask users for $5 a month in return for unlimited access to U.S. media.”
Given the US history of ignoring WTO rulings that go against it, and only enforcing those rulings that are in its favor (as a lawyer specializing in international trade I’ve had some experience in this area), the actions taken by Antigua, being perfectly legal, may send reverberations around the world. It will be fascinating to keep an eye on this and see how it plays out.