In “how to legally steal” by shounic on YouTube, it's claimed that Antigua was awarded by the WTO a suspension of obligation to United States copyright as a remedy for the U.S.' treatment of online sports betting, which was supposedly "unfair" under a trade agreement:

The interesting part, however, is what the [Special 301] report doesn't mention: this tiny island to the [east] of Puerto Rico has a right to disregard Intellectual Property obligations to the U.S.

In 2003, Antigua appeared before the WTO and argued that [the U.S.'s treatment of Antigua-based sports betting sites] was unfair [treatment of international goods] and therefore a violation of the GATS. … The WTO basically handed America the L[slang] … in the official concluding remarks, the judging panel notes that … because [the U.S.'s sports betting] regulations were interfering directly with their GATS commitments, they rule in favor of Antigua. … The WTO gave the U.S. until April 2006 to amend its regulations to conform with their GATS schedule; the U.S. didn't bother, so, in December of 2007, Antigua requested and got authorized to suspend their obligations to American intellectual property.

Sadly, the YouTuber did not provide any bibliography, so following up on this was annoying and difficult.

According to this equally poorly-cited article from The New York Times, Antigua really did seek this remedy, but I couldn't find anything confirming it actually got it.

As a piece of indirect evidence I found: Antiguan ccTLDs are available to foreigners, but at a steep premium ($75–$142/yr) compared to most open ccTLD registration costs (which range ~$15–$40/yr). This seems somewhat to suggest their value for "bulletproof" hosting, though I'm not familiar with the online piracy scene enough to say if this is actually the reason.


1 Answer 1


"[A]uthorized…but suspension of IP rights has never taken place"

The above is taken from Cross-Retaliation Under The WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism Involving TRIPS Provisions from the WTO itself and specifically mentions the case involving Antigua and the US.

See also The Antigua-United States Online Gambling Dispute from the website of the U.S. International Trade Commission:

Antigua could ignore U.S. copyrights on software, movies, and music owned by U.S. companies, and sell up to $21 million worth of these media annually in domestic markets.

  • Curious: who would be “selling” to whom in that case? Antiguan pirates willing to put in the work stripping DRM, selling media to Antiguan consumers too lazy to strip DRM, surely wouldn't be a $21M market? Dec 18, 2023 at 0:29
  • In Jan 2013 there are many articles all stating that Antigua is able to make piracy sites (pirated software, music, movies, etc) all without worrying about the RIAA and others. They are/were free from copyright violations. However, in 2022, a single article on my search states "Sadly, they never followed through." although that was posted via a not very trustworthy source. Every other link with the word piracy or pirate(s) talks about the "arr, avast ye matey" kind of piracy, instead...
    – CGCampbell
    Dec 18, 2023 at 14:39
  • @CGCampbell Are you saying that not a single one of Antigua's 93000+ citizens has started up a public piracy site, or currently provides hosting to any public piracy site? Is that anything to do with decisions of the Antiguan government, or is it sheer happenstance? Dec 18, 2023 at 17:04
  • I think some further quotes from the US ITC paper would clarify the situation, e.g. "Antigua might consider exporting to reach the permitted level of retaliation, but [...] even when IP rights are suspended by one country, other WTO members are still obligated to follow TRIPS with respect to their import" and "Other considerations include the fact that Antigua is obligated to respect U.S. IP rights under separate agreements." In other words, the ruling exists, but actually taking advantage of it isn't as easy as it sounds.
    – IMSoP
    Dec 18, 2023 at 17:28
  • "Other considerations include the fact that Antigua is obligated to respect U.S. IP rights under separate agreements." Interesting; that seems like a key fact. Feb 9 at 13:45

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