Antigua won the right to distribute $21 million a year in copyrighted material without permission due to a ruling by the World Trade Organization. This ruling was based on Antigua’s inability to have access to the US online gambling market. The initial claim was based on legal online horse racing offered by companies like TVG, but the ruling by the WTO covered all online gambling. The US lost several appeals over the years but has still never allowed Antigua access to the market. Antigua claims this lack of action has destroyed the online gambling industry in their country.
I fully support Antigua’s right to offer online gambling in the US. The US is one of the last countries in the western world to not allow it. It is obvious that the US entered into trade agreements with Antigua that would allow it, regardless of the intention of those agreements.
The US has ignored the WTO rulings for nearly a decade. Antigua now holds the upper hand.
Hollywood producers, software companies and music labels spend untold millions of dollars defending their copyrights. These companies are now potentially victims of their government’s arrogance. The US has no problem bringing a trade issue to the WTO, but if they lose, it is obvious that they do not care. Is it fair for copyright holders to pay?
Both the WTO and Antigua feel that allowing the country to ignore copyrights is the only way to convince the US to comply with the ruling. Their ultimate goal may not be to sell the $21 million a year in copyrighted material but to recoup their damages. Their intent may be simply to use the leverage of producers, software companies and music companies to push Washington DC to do the right thing.
While I am all for Antigua getting a fair shake here, the country selling copyrighted material does not sit well with me. I have thousands of pages copyrighted articles and other content on the internet. Rogue website owners and writers have stolen my work countless times. It irritates me to no end but this is an issue online writers have to take as part of the business. Knowing how it is to have my hard work stolen, I can certainly see the side of the copyright holders. I have a feeling that they are lobbying hard for the US to settle.
If the US decides to cut Antigua a check then that money will come from US taxpayers. That part makes me sick too. Instead of taxing online gambling, the US made it illegal for banks to process payments for it without even a debate thanks to Bill Frist, the now disgraced former Senate Majority Leader.
What Antigua wants is the money owed to them. The country lost nearly its entire online gambling industry due to the US ignoring multiple WTO rulings. At this point, Antigua probably does not even want the right to get into the US gaming market. Most of the companies involved have either moved to other countries or gone out of business.
I put off writing this because I needed a break from writing. I was also hoping this would either get resolved by a mutual agreement from the US or see an immediate publishing of the warez site. None of that has happened.