The little Caribbean island of Antigua means little to most of the world except as a vacation spot. Yet the country is holding its own in a major riff with the United States that goes back to the Bush administration. Here’s Techdirtsummarizing the situation:
Way back in 2003, we first wrote about Antigua filing for sanctions against the US for its ban on online gambling. Antigua argued (with fairly strong support) that this violated a trade agreement between the US and Antigua, by blocking a form of free trade. The case was at the WTO for years, bouncing around. In 2004, the WTO ruled against the US, which the US promptly ignored. In 2005, the WTO again ruled in favor of Antigua on the issue, and the US (stunningly) responded by pretending that it had won, when it most clearly had not.
[A]round 2006 — someone somewhere floated the idea that one way that Antigua could be made whole would be to allow it to ignore US copyright laws, allowing it to “sell” copyrighted content on the cheap, without paying any royalties.
That idea has been floating around for five or so years. The U.S. has taken diplomatic moves to try to neutralize it, but now Antigua is planning to establish a copyright infringing store with the blessings of the WTO. Of course, the U.S. is not pleased and is threatening retaliation of some sort.
What has turned into an eyeball staring match is really because the U.S. doesn’t want to allow its people to gamble online freely. Never mind that those same people can buy lotto tickets in most states and partake in government-allowed casinos throughout the country.
It’s clear what is going on here. The U.S., from both the Bush and Obama administrations argue for justice and fairness but are happy to ignore international law when no one can enforce it.
It’s hard not to root for Antigua in this one.