Antigua’s Legal “Pirate Site” Authorized by the World Trade Organization

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During a meeting in Geneva today the World Trade organization (WTO) authorized Antigua's request to suspend U.S. copyrights. The decision confirmed the preliminary authorization the Caribbean island received in 2007, and means that the local authorities can move forward with their plan to start a download portal which offers movies, music and software without compensating the American companies that make them.

warez-agLast week we broke the news that the island nation Antigua and Barbuda wants to start a Government run “pirate” site.

Today, this plan came a step closer to reality when the Caribbean country received authorization from the WTO to suspend U.S. copyrights during a meeting in Geneva.

This decision affirms the preliminary approval that was granted to Antigua in 2007 after the country won a gambling related trade dispute against the United States.

At the moment it’s still unclear what Antigua’s exact plans are but TorrentFreak is informed that the media portal will offer movies, TV-shows, music as well as software to customers worldwide.

Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a comment that the U.S. left his Government no other option than to respond in this manner. Antigua’s gambling industry was devastated by the unfair practices of the U.S. and years of negotiations have offered no compromise.

“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Lowell says.

“If the same type of actions, by another nation, caused the people and the economy of the United States to be so significantly impacted, Antigua would without hesitation support their pursuit of justice,” the Finance minister adds.

The Government has not given a time-frame for the release of the site, which has been in the works for a few months already. Ideally, Antigua hopes to settle the dispute before opening up their free media portal but there are no signs that the U.S. is going to comply with the WTO rulings.

Thus far, the U.S. has only warned Antigua that “Government-authorized piracy” would harm the ongoing settlement discussions.

“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,” U.S. officials said earlier.

However, these comments haven’t changed Antigua’s course. Emanuel McChesney, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority, is not impressed by this apparent scare tactic.

“We assume this is just rhetoric for public consumption, and we look forward to the United States putting aside these tactics and focusing their future efforts on thoughtful negotiation rather than on hyperbole and intimidation,” McChesney.

The Antiguan government further reiterated today that the term “piracy” doesn’t apply in this situation, as they are fully authorized to suspend U.S. copyrights. It is a legal remedy that was approved by all WTO members, including the United States.

If Antigua does indeed pull through, it will be rather interesting to see how the U.S. responds. It might add a whole new dimension to the ongoing “war on piracy.”


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