The island nation of Antigua has set a year-end deadline for the US government to pay up money it owes them as part of settlement brokered by the World Trade Organization (WTO) to end a long-running dispute over online gambling sites.

If the US doesn’t pony up more than $200 million in cash, the Antiguans could declare open season on American intellectual property, and they’d do it with the blessing of the WTO.

Antigua’s frustration with the US stems from a 2005 ruling from the WTO that determined the Americans were blocking Antigua’s right to free trade by blocking access to offshore gambling sites.

As part of the settlement, the US government was obliged to pay the Antiguans more than $200 million in damages, to be paid off in ten payments of $20 million.

If the US didn’t fulfill its end of the bargain, and so far it hasn’t, the Antiguans have the option of collecting the money through the sale of copyrighted American intellectual property.  In short, Antigua has the option of opening a WTO-approved Napster to collect on the past due payments.

So far, the Government of Antigua has played nice with the Americans, but their patience is clearly wearing thin. In an interview with the Jamaican Observer, Antigua’s ambassador to the US, Sir Ronald Sanders expressed his country’s frustration saying:

…if they put something on the table that is reasonable [then] that would remove the end-of-year deadline, because then we would have something we could actually look at favourably. So far that has not happened.

As of this writing, there has been no official US response to the Antiguan ultimatum.


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