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!