Antigua can 'legally' pirate American films and music, says WTO
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) handed down an unusual ruling on Friday 21 December, giving the tiny Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda the right to violate copyright protections on goods like films and music from the United States, as part of a dispute between the countries over online gambling. The award is worth up to $21 million. The award follows a WTO ruling that the US had wrongly blocked online gambling operators on the island from the American market
The ruling is very significant. It allows an extremely unusual form of compensation - the right of one country to violate the intellectual property (IP) laws of another -allowing Antigua to distribute copies of American music, movie and software products without paying the US any royalties up to $21 million.
Losing no time, on Friday itself the US trade representative issued a stern warning to Antigua to avoid acts of piracy, counterfeiting or violations of intellectual property rights while talks continue.
It said such behaviour would immediately ''undermine Antigua's claimed intentions of becoming a leader in legitimate electronic commerce, and would severely discourage foreign investment'' in the country. The US announced that it would rewrite its trade rules to remove gambling from the WTO's jurisdiction.
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