Tuesday January 29,2013 : WTO GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO ANTIGUA IN GAMBLING DISPUTE (Update)
Possibility of a portal that will infuriate US intellectual property rights holders
Good to its promise last week , the Caribbean government of Antigua and Barbuda took its case for relief one more time to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva Monday after another round of talks with US government officials in the decade-long online gambling dispute failed.
The Antiguans asked for a final green light for its imposition of a limited WTO-approved suspension of US copyrights in the absence of the US meeting its dispute resolution obligations from earlier proceedings.
The green light gives Antigua the right to continue its development of an online website through which the public at large can download US-copyrighted movies, television programs, CDs and games to a defined value without the holders of such rights having legal recourse.
Given the ferocity with which US rights holder protect their intellectual property, the availability of such a service is likely to cause major waves in the United States.
There has already been one reaction. Steve Metalitz, counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, said Monday: “We are of the firm view that suspending intellectual property rights is not the right solution, and that state-sanctioned theft is an affront to any society."
Perhaps realising this, US officialdom has issued several warnings and implied threats that if the Antiguans go ahead with their plans, various benefits such as trade and investment could be impacted.
Antigua’s Finance Minister, Harold Lovell, has defended his government's actions, saying that aggressive US legalization and enforcement actions against online gambling had 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.
“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 claimed.