Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle
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Pirates of the Bermuda Triangle

Saint John's : Antigua and Barbuda | Jan 30, 2013 at 1:47 PM PST
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Antigua Skyfall

What a great story for a Hollywood script! It could be Samson against Goliath, or James Bond versus Julian Assange.

The Caribbean country of Antigua Barbuda plays Samson and Assange. The US plays James Bond and Goliath.

Ironically, the latest Bond flick, “Skyfall,” opened as a promotion in Antigua, two days before it did in the US.

In colonial times Antigua was the British gateway to the Caribbean. First Viscount Horatio Nelson set up a dock support ships fighting privateers.

The small former British colony has challenged the Obama Administration to a virtual duel of Websites. Because the US has blocked Americans from gambling at the Antigua Website, despite a World Trade Organization ruling in favor of the country not far from the Bermuda Triangle, the nation is considering setting up a subscription Website that would offer movies, video games, music, books, software and other downloadable goodies. Of course it would be a violation of copyright laws, but the WTO’s rules allow such an action as a remedy for the gambling ruling. TorrentFreak, which tracks copyright trolls, disclosed the Antigua decision.

Antigua, population 89,000, says it has no choice.

“The economy of Antigua and Barbuda has been devastated by the United States government’s long campaign to prevent American consumers from gambling,” Harold Lovell, Antigua’s finance minister said in a statement given to the New York Times.

These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua have resulted in the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers.”

Tourism is declining and gambling had become the second-biggest industry. Gambling once employed 4,000 people, but has dropped to under 500.

The US has protested the Antigua plan, and said it would backfire. The Antigua government says it has been waiting for years for the US to lift the law banning Americans from participating in international Internet gambling.

Some would call the US threats hypocrisy. The Americans pushed the WTO to allow what is called “cross retaliation,” set up so that if one industry is damaged by unfair trade actions the victim could retaliate against a different industry operated by its attacker.

The caveat emptor is that anyone who goes to the site may be tracked by anti-piracy outfits. These groups notify a user’s Internet provider and ask that the user’s account be put “in a garden,” lingo for shutting off their account, until they stop. Some users get cease-and-desist orders.

OTHER SOURCES:

FORBES

REUTERS

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MASHABLE

Antigua Online Gaming Association

ANALYSIS:

The Antigua situation shows that although Hollywood has won many battles the war is not over.

Some judges have thrown their cases out of court because it could not be proven that the user account holder actually did the downloading. Compare it to photo radar. Police have photos of the driver to use as evidence.

The attempt to clamp down on Pirate Bay and others has led to some egregious efforts by publishers. Major Websites have been told to take down items that were perfectly legal. Some file sharers have lost their personal data in misguided crackdowns.

And groups like Anonymous have shown that encryption can beat almost anything. As one geek said, “math beats guns.” Proxies and VPN networks help hide illegal file sharing.

Worse for Hollywood is that anti-piracy efforts are now linked with attempts to spy on the Internet.

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Images of the beautiful island of Antigua, which wants to become a pirates' den, copyright pirates that is.
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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