As earlier reported, the Antigua government has announced plans to create a warez website that will distributed American software with no royalty payments to American software developers. Now, US spokesperson Nkenge Harmon has responded to the Antigua government’s announcement.
According to Harmon, an illegally created warez website would “authorize the theft of intellectual property” and will not be tolerated by US copyright holders.
The United States and Antigua have been at odds ever since the US government began shutting down illegally operated gambling websites. The gambling industry in Antigua employed more than 4,000 people and equated to a $3.4 billion gaming industry. Since shutting down websites in the United States, Antigua’s gambling empire has shrunk to approximately 500 workers.
In 2005, the World Trade Organization ruled that the US law which forbids international entities from providing online gambling services was a violation of trade agreements. The US refused to change the law, and the WTO awarded Antigua $21 million in property rights payments annually.
Harmon further notes:
“The United States has urged Antigua to consider solutions that would benefit its broader economy. However, Antigua has repeatedly stymied these negotiations with certain unrealistic demands. Government-authorized piracy would undermine chances for a settlement. It also would serve as a major impediment to foreign investment in the Antiguan economy, particularly in high-tech industries.”
Responding to Harmon’s comments, Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell denied those claims:
“The economy of Antigua and Barbuda has been devastated by the United States government’s long campaign to prevent American consumers from gambling on-line with offshore gaming operators. We once again ask the United States of America to act in accordance with the WTO’s decisions in this matter.”
The United States has never hinted at plans to change its offshore gambling restrictions.