Antigua and Barbuda: Copyright Free Capitol of the World?

copyright-lawyer Antigua and the United States have long been entangled in an Internet law “trade war.” Online gambling and copyright protections figure at the center of the dispute. Antiguans were (and still are) upset about U.S. online gambling sanctions because the ban sucker-punched its economy. Meanwhile, the U.S. is upset that Antigua is threatening to remove all American copyright protection measures in their country as retaliation for the gambling ban.

The Antiguan government is unveiling a plan to “monetize” or otherwise “exploit” U.S. copyrights. Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer expressed support and gratitude for the committee that quickly drafted a workable proposal. Also — (perhaps in an attempt to alert overseas investors with a yen for Caribbean tax shelters) – Baldwin mentioned that the new Antiguan plan would be open to “private sector participation in the platform.”

Do you think Antigua is over-reacting? Maybe, but they have a legal right to do so. In 2007, The World Trade Organization sided with the Caribbean nation, granting them the authority to “ignore certain WTO commitments to the U.S., including those related to intellectual property rights protections.”

A spokesperson for the office of the U.S. Trade Representative cautioned that any extreme measures taken by the Antiguan government would “damage Antigua’s climate for investment and innovation.” Frankly, we’re not sure the assertion is accurate. After all, U.S. investors aren’t the only game in town. And let’s face it: a lot of profit-minded people (and pirates alike) – both at home and overseas – are not going to pass up a copyright free zone on principle.

The trade representative spokesperson also pointed out that the U.S. made amends with every other WTO member nation. Ironically, the feds may be inadvertently helping Antigua’s marketing efforts. After all, they’re highlighting its status as the only jurisdiction with copyright-dodging capabilities.

Why is Antigua obsessed with the online gambling issue? Before Internet gaming, online gambling was the island nation’s second largest employer. When the ban hit, the Antiguan economy tanked.

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