Antigua preparing to lauch website to sell media sans copyright fees

By on January 25, 2013, 11:15 AM

The small island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean is planning to launch a website that will sell music, movies and even software without paying copyright holder fees. The whole idea stems from a United States blockade preventing the island from offering online gambling services to US-based residents.

The country once had a flourishing gambling business led by online casinos. According to Antigua’s High Commissioner to London, Carl Roberts, the multi-billion dollar industry used to employ nearly five percent of all Antiguans. The market has since collapsed to virtually nothing after the US prevented the country from accessing their market several years ago.

Antigua initially filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization way back in 2003. The organization ruled in 2005 that prohibiting Antigua from accessing US markets violated free-trade. Two years later, the WTO said Antigua had the right to suspend US copyrights up to $21 million annually.

Now here we are six years later and it appears the Caribbean nation is finally taking steps to act on that ruling. As TorrentFreak points out, the country put the issue on the WTO docket last month but the US blocked the discussion, saying it was untimely. Antigua is expected to try again this month and if successful, the aforementioned website will likely go live shortly after.

Attorneys representing Antigua have been quick to shy away from the term “piracy” as they have been given permission to sell media without paying for copyrights by the WTO. Attorney Mark Mendel said no governing body in the world can stop them from carrying out the plan. The US, however, said that doing so would only serve to hurt Antigua’s own interests.

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