U.S. warns Antigua against "government-authorized piracy"

Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:40pm EST
 

By Doug Palmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States warned Antigua and Barbuda on Monday not to retaliate against U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling by suspending American copyrights or patents, a move it said would authorize the "theft" of intellectual property like movies and music.

"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," said Nkenge Harmon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

The strong statement came after the tiny Caribbean country said it would suspend U.S. copyrights and patents, an unusual form of retaliation, unless the United States took its demands for compensation more seriously in a ruling Antigua won at the World Trade Organization.

"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," Antigua's Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a statement.

"We once again ask ... the United States of America to act in accordance with the WTO's decisions in this matter."

U.S. copyright holders also blasted Antigua's plan.

"We are of the firm view that suspending intellectual property rights is not the right solution, and that state‑sanctioned theft is an affront to any society," Steve Metalitz, counsel to the International Intellectual Property Alliance, said in a statement.

Antigua, a former British colony with few natural resources, has knocked heads with the United States since the late 1990s, when it began building an Internet gambling industry to replace jobs in its declining tourist industry.   Continued...