The Caribbean island of Antigua is launching a government-run pirate (file sharing) website, to “punish” the US

antigua

You think Kim Dotcom and his Mega service should worry anti-piracy advocates? That is nothing. The government of Antigua, which is a small country in the Caribbean, is set to a launch a government-run pirate website. Yep, movies, music, TV shows, and software will all be available for download on this website. (It is not entirely clear if the content will be freely downloadable or available at heavily discounted prices — the full details aren’t clear, yet.) And what about the copyright holders (i.e. American companies)? Oh, they’re getting nothing out of this. Zip. Nada.

The people behind this believe this is a punishment for the United States, a sort of revenge for them. This is because a few years ago, many Antiguans worked at companies related to online gambling. It was a multi-billion dollar industry in the country, employing 5 percent of the entire population. But then the US began to prevent the island from accessing the American market, and continually refused to lift the trade blockade despite the WTO siding with Antigua in 2005 in the name of free-trade.

In fact, in 2007, the WTO granted Antigua a preliminary authorization to suspend US copyrights up to $21 million annually as a result of the gambling dispute. And now, just a few days ago during a meeting in Geneva, the World Trade Organization has authorized Antigua’s request to suspend US copyrights. The site has already been in the works for a couple of months, but Antigua wants to launch it after they settle the disputes by the US. The US, however, doesn’t look like they’ll be complying with the WTO’s ruling anytime soon.

“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,” said in a warning letter to the WTO by the US.

On the other hand, Antigua’s attorney, Mark Mendel, says that the term piracy does not apply with what they’re doing because of the fact that they have legal permission. “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,” says Mendel.

Antigua is pushing on with their plans to launch their media portal. Just think about it, a government-run site with legal backing from an international body to make copyrighted content available for download (for free or at discounted rates). This is gonna be huge. But it’s also gonna get messy. Stay tuned!

[via TorrentFreak, image via Derek Hatfield]

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7 comments

  1. michael clyde

    if my non usa based $6 a month very fast vpn provider can’t be forced to turn my surfing history over to us based authorities then they can’t stop doodle. as for paying, (if it’s fee based) there are quite a few companies that sell services and/or commodities from e-gold to pre paid cards that my credit card company will pay or my paypal account won’t have a problem with, they have nothing to do with antigua.
    it looks like the Lesser Antilles may turn out to be more… bring it on.

    michael clyde

    disclaimer – i do not encourage or condone copyright infringement.

  2. stilofilos

    Great !
    Ah, the relativity of politics and all that intellectual property nonsense as a oh so transparent cover-up of greed, theft and extortion.
    This is the harvest they seeded with their infantile exaggeration.
    Long live Antigua !

  3. Hope Diamond

    Charging for the content would defeat the purpose, since the world would simply prohibit bank & cc charges to the country.

    OTOH, not charging wouldn’t serve much purpose for them because … why bother if there’s no money in it.

    What this *does* do, however, is force the SPA/RiAA et. al. to pay blackmail to stop them from doing it. So, what are the odds of these groups paying out? Not very good. Conversely, a threat is not much good unless it has some teeth SO …

    The bottom-line is that this has a reasonably fair chance of happening, at least for awhile

    Lawsuits?? Please. Antigua is a small country with no assets outside its borders so let them sue. Short of military action, there’s not much they or the world can do.

  4. pdionne03901@yahoo.com

    Awesome! All countrys have agreed that the WTO has final say in disputes about trade between countrys, so the US has nowhere to go on this. Antigua got the WTO’s approval to void the copyrights, so US can do nothing, but, I believe the door for the individual companies to bring action is still open, but would have to go through Geneva to be heard. Glad to see someone is willing to stand up to the US’s better than you attitude.

  5. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    If this does goes live, and this isn’t simply a way for Antigua to force the USA to settle, I agree this may be huge. I say “may” because it depends on how the website is run and what counter-actions the USA takes.

    For example, we don’t really know if copyrighted content will be freely available on this website or at discounted rates. My guess is the latter, because Antigua wants to use this website as a source for jobs. If a pay-for-content website may not become as popular as a free-download website but, if the price is right, it will become popular. The issue, however, for a pay-for-content website is the US can easily choke off methods of payment (i.e. MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, bank transfers,etc.) If US companies are forbidden to interact with the website, it will be extremely difficult to run a pay-for-content website, despite the fact that Antigua has WTO’s blessing.

    Also, where is the domain going to be registered? The servers? Hopefully the people planning the website are smart enough to understand that if they register the domains and hold the servers outside Antigua, the service can easily be disrupted by taking over the domain or servers.

    On a similar note, the Antigua website may have been legalized by the WTO but that does not mean it is legal for US citizens (or citizens in other countries — this will vary from country to country) to download or purchase the content. If the US starts specifically targeting customers/users of the website (in an effort to scare people away from it), then it will hut the user base and popularity.

    So many questions, not enough details.