Antigua and Barbuda, small island nations known for their sizable online gambling operations, may be entering a new business: legalized piracy. (The Hollywood Reporter, "U.S. copyright waived in tiny nation") The World Trade Organization, which administers trade disputes between members, has granted Antigua and Barbuda the right to waive U.S. intellectual property rights worth up to $21 million. The decision stems from an arbitration brought in response to recent United States legislation aimed at shutting down certain forms of online gambling. Antigua and Barbuda objected to the legislation, and cited the exceptions given to United States horse racing as evidence of a trade violation.
As a result of this decision, Antigua and Barbuda may conceivably be allowed to sell copies of protected American works without punishment. Protection will be waived for everything from video games to computer software to feature films. The ruling limits this right to $21 million, which will likely prompt protracted negotiations between holders of protected works and Antigua and Barbuda as to the exact value of these rights. While the fiscal harm to American companies may be negligible under this decision, a dangerous precedent has been set.