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WTO Rules on Internet Gambling Case

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the when-local-politics-go-international dept.

Music 171

doggod writes "The Associated Press reports today that the WTO has finally ruled on Antigua's complaint against the US over online gambling. The complaints stems from what Antigua sees as unfair trade practices relating to the US passage last year of a law that forbids banks from handling money to and from online casinos. The amount they awarded is significantly less than Antigua asked for. If you download a copyrighted song from a server in Antigua, will that be an ironclad defense that will make you invulnerable to future attacks from the RIAA?"

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no (3, Funny)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782168)

If you download a copyrighted song from a server in Antigua, will that be an ironclad defense that will make you invulnerable to future attacks from the RIAA?
IANAL, but don't count on it.

Re:no (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782880)

Only if you live in Antigua and you are a family member of the RIAA [tinyurl.com]

Ironclad? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782196)

Aren't we assuming that the US would respect the decisions of the WTO in supposing that we'd have a defense against infringement just because of a pesky international law we agreed to?

Somehow, I don't see that happening. I'm betting the **AA-holes would go after you, anyhow.

Re:Ironclad? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784212)

How would the RIAA go after you? None of the copyright laws right now pertain to getting something. IT is all with copying and distributing. And no, when someone offers something to you, you aren't copying it illegally when downloading it.

The RIAA could only come after you with anything that actually had grounds for if you took whatever you got and then gave it away or they manage to use this to get a law passed making downloading in and of itself illegal.

Seriously, you're asking HOW? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21784396)

The RIAA has no trouble making up crazy theories unsupported by law (e.g. "making available") and you're seriously asking me how they'd go after someone? If the law isn't on their side yet, they'll buy a new one.

As far as I can tell, the **AA-holes have a one-factor test in whether or not they'll sue you for doing anything remotely concerning their imaginary property:

* Are we making enough money off of their work?
[Yes] Ask for more money.
[No] Sue the bastards.

cue "politics as usual" (5, Insightful)

darthfracas (1144839) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782210)

can't wait for the current administration to take its ball and go home because people can do what they want with their money. Bill Frist got the provision into the port security bill for two reasons... 1)he knew it would pass no matter what was in it, and 2)Harrah's is one of his largest donors. translation, "play poker in our card rooms, or you can't play at all."

Re:cue "politics as usual" (2, Informative)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782644)

Except that Harrah's is pro online gambling. Most of the major casinos want to extend their brand online.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (3, Informative)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782994)

Doesn't the bill only block transfers to foreign online casinos?

Re:cue "politics as usual" Whatever the case, (2, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783486)

things will go down in...

Antiguity...

Re:cue "politics as usual" (3, Informative)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783490)

No. It blocks transfers that will be used for "illegal online gambling", but it defers to current federal and state laws as to what is illegal. For instance, offering sports betting across state lines is illegal under the Wire Act, except some interstate horse racing betting is legal under a later law. Then there's a hodgepodge of state laws to contend with.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782936)

people can do what they want with their money

We're talking about the most expensive, most powerful, most lucrative government in history. This is barely a drop in the bucket for the elite few at the top of this business.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (2, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783090)

What I can't figure out is why the federal government is involved with gambling. Gambling is legal in many states; we have horse tracks and casinos here in Illinois.

I prefer Las Vegas casinos, though, because hookers are legal.

And speaking of gambling, I'd not gambled in a casino since a couple of buddies talked me into going to Nevada when I was stationed in California in the USAF in 1975. So last summer I went to the riverboat, and the new electronic slot machines SUCK! Boring as hell. You young folks don't know what you missed back when they had mechanical one armed bandits.

First time I've seen a computerized anything and wished for the mechanical version.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783364)

I'm pretty sure that hookers are illegal in Las Vegas. They are not illegal in Nevada, but my understanding was that the cities had laws against prostitution in the city itself.

And yes, slot machines are a tactile experience. Without the hand to pull, and the coins dropping out, I might as well sit at home pushing my spacebar.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783472)

The ban relates to money being transfered offshore. It has nothing to do with gambling on US soil.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783536)

It applies to all "illegal online gambling", US or otherwise.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783978)

No, it applies to the offshore transfer of money to casinos. It has nothing to do with the legality of gambling.

Re:cue "politics as usual" (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784328)

The federal government is involved because it deals with interstate commerce. And it does so in a way that can circumvent the different state's existing laws. Currently, gambling is handled state by state. But when you make it available in a state that banns it, you are violating that states laws accept you haven't entered that state to be punished. The Feds put a thing in the wire something laws making it illegal to do something like this. Later, they banned the transfer of funds to illegal gambling so that residents of Ohio couldn't go on line and gamble in Nevada. Now, you actually have to go where the gambling is legal if you want to gamble.

It sounds silly, but if there ever was something that interstate commerce clause was supposed to be used for, it would be this. Even if you don't agree with what the Feds are doing, this is exactly what their power to get involved was created for.

LULZ AT YOU (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21784316)

What kind of moron would even think about gambling online out of Antigua or anywhere outside the USA for that matter?

A simple google search of 'online gambling scheme' [google.com] reveales a ton of scams involving thousands of crooks internationally. In the USA there are not as nearly as many schemes as everything is regulated very heavily and almost every scheme is caught in the end. When gambling online you not only have to worry about the odds of the house, but the odds of a cheater taking everyones money; lowering the odds even more for everyone.

Oh you don't believe me? Guess you don't remember This Story [go.com] . Yea a major share holder/investor of absolute poker online was watching everyones hand and winning hundreds of thousands of dollars. So I guess you still want to gamble online? "It's my money its what I want to do! I want to be a dumbass in the face of clear evidence!!"

I'm sorry but the issue has nothing to do with bush; keep this name out of it. I know around here if you talk shit about bush you automagically get modded up; fact is EVERY industry has paid off congress to protect their intrests, where it be economically or morally.

This part of the WTO is where it does get sketchy because I think there are some people in government that genuinely want to protect the person investing their money, and to tell them where to gamble is wrong but if you know its a scam how can one responsibilly allow that? Sure they want to keep gambling in their own regulated casinos, because they are proven safe without any fear of being cheated.

nahhh (3, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782212)

It's a token victory. It just means that that if they do sell mp3 without paying royalties, US won't be able to use WTO to impose sanctions on them. But US doesn't need WTO to impose sanctions. It can just do it. I am not a lawyer.

Re:nahhh (2, Insightful)

Necrotica (241109) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782284)

It's a token victory. It just means that that if they do sell mp3 without paying royalties, US won't be able to use WTO to impose sanctions on them. But US doesn't need WTO to impose sanctions. It can just do it. I am not a lawyer.

"Can" implies legal right. But make no mistake, the US WILL just do it.

Re:nahhh (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782912)

No, "may" implies legal right. "Can" merely implies capability. "Will" implies certainty, which is a little premature right now.

Re:nahhh (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782920)

"Can" implies ability, "may" implies permission.

Re:nahhh (4, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782406)

It's a token victory. It just means that that if they do sell mp3 without paying royalties, US won't be able to use WTO to impose sanctions on them. But US doesn't need WTO to impose sanctions. It can just do it.

The US doesn't need the WTO to impose sanctions, no. But if it does so then it's blatant protectionism of American gambling and copyright industries against Antiguan competition. The EU and Japan have both been making pro-Antiguan noises in this dispute, and if the US decides to try some form of economic bullying on Antigua, then it's possible that Europe and Japan might step in. The US is rich and powerful, but not so rich that it will risk a devastating trade war with Europe when the dollar's already on the slide, over a few gambling sites and pirate havens in the Caribbean.

Re:nahhh (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782570)

...if the US decides to try some form of economic bullying on Antigua, then it's possible that Europe and Japan might step in. The US is rich and powerful, but not so rich that it will risk a devastating trade war with Europe when the dollar's already on the slide, over a few gambling sites and pirate havens in the Caribbean.

That's true, but what does 'step in' mean? Would that imply a stern lecture? The US won't care. Would it imply an escalating tarrif war? Europe/Japan wouldn't risk playing that card for a fight that's not even theirs. No way do they break out the economic 'nuclear option' in defense of Antigua when they would be harmed as much as the US.

That's the problem with these treaty organizations: they only work to keep the small fries in line. If the biggest kid decides to break the rules...who gets him back in line?

Re:nahhh (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782780)

Would it imply an escalating tarrif war? Europe/Japan wouldn't risk playing that card for a fight that's not even theirs. No way do they break out the economic 'nuclear option' in defense of Antigua when they would be harmed as much as the US.

If the fight really wasn't ours, I'd say you were right; Europe would leave Antigua out to dry. But Antigua's not the only country troubled by America's protectionist gaming laws. There are plenty of European betting sites that would love a piece of that action. Right now they're being made unwelcome [nytimes.com] .

From TFA, it looks like Europe has accepted some unspecified concessions for accepting a change in the WTO treaty rules. But as I read it, that isn't yet in force, and would only change the process by which compensation is claimed, not whether or not a claim is viable. So it might still be on the cards that the EU might back Antigua. There's a lot of money to be made if we can get America to stop locking up legitimate British casino owners.

Re:nahhh (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782678)

You are deepling confused.

This isn't "protectionism". This is moral meddling. The US wants the ability to
control who gambles on what where. They don't have that ability with a foreign
company. This isn't "protectionism". It's simply a reflection of the fact that
in this area the US is "attempting to legislate morality".

It does this in a very byzantine fashion.

The same goes for other forms of "vice" like alchohol or sex.

Try talking to a small US vineyard trying to sell to customers in other States.

The extreme reaction here is just an excuse for mindless US bashing. Some people
have found their gift wrapped excuse and by golly they're going to use it.

Re:nahhh (2, Informative)

1001011010110101 (305349) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783018)

Actually, you are wrong. The problem is that the US allows some local online gambling, while not allowing the same to outside countries. If the US was to actually ban all forms of online gambling,it would be ok. What they cannot do, is to discriminate against other countries like they do with Antigua.

Re:nahhh (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784388)

What they cannot do, is to discriminate against other countries like they do with Antigua.
They CAN'T? Where is this written, and how is it enforced? And why doesn't it apply universally - cause I sure hope you understand that it does NOT apply to all similar situations, and to other countries outside the United States....

Re:nahhh (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784428)

I don't understand where this ban is. All countries like antigua need to do is get permission in each state they wish to operate in just like every one else who want to operate on line and regular casinos.

I'm not sure why that isn't acceptable. They can compete in each market within the US that allows competition.

Re:nahhh (5, Insightful)

mi (197448) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783332)

The same goes for other forms of "vice" like alcohol or sex. Try talking to a small US vineyard trying to sell to customers in other States.

I was once dumbfounded by it being illegal for me to buy a bottle of wine in Massachusetts on Sunday. As I stood there arguing with the cashier, a girl behind me in line (in early twenties, seemingly "progressive", and without a Bible under her arm) expressed her support for the law. It went something like: "Yeah, it is a good idea for there being one day a week, when buying alcohol is illegal. I like it."

She could not explain why and shut up, when I suggested, she avoids sex on Thursdays. But I remain puzzled, how a modern American can see fit to impose arbitrary and gratuitous limitations on others without a good and easily explainable reason.

Re:nahhh (3, Insightful)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783672)

Try talking to a small US vineyard trying to sell to customers in other States.

SCOTUS recently struck down state laws prohibiting protectionism against out-of-state vineyards if in-state vineyards are allowed to sell directly to consumers.

This case is protectionism, pure and simple. Allowing multi-state lotteries, betting on horse racing, and betting on fantasy sports while denying other forms of gambling is not morally consistent with an anti-gambling position.

Re:nahhh (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782732)

The EU and Japan have both been making pro-Antiguan noises in this dispute, and if the US decides to try some form of economic bullying on Antigua, then it's possible that Europe and Japan might step in.

Actually the EU and Japan just wanted trade concessions, which is their right since the US withdrew entirely from the gambling agreement. The US announced deals with the EU, Japan, and Canada earlier this week. The EU got some shipping concessions and warehousing concessions, with the main benefactor being DHL -- so basically FedEx and UPS got thrown under the bus for the online gambling ban.

Unless something else happens, the US got off relatively unscathed from this. There were predictions that between Antigua sanctions and trade concessions it could cost the US as much as $100 billion.

Re:nahhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782948)

Pirate havens in the Caribbean... Some things just never change. Arrrr, matey!

Re:nahhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21784152)

>The US is rich

http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock [brillig.com]

allofmp3.ag? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21783112)

So how long before allofmp3.ag shows up?

Re:nahhh (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784834)

If the US unilaterally imposes sanctions because they don't like the WTO's ruling, then the WTO will just keep increasing the punishment.

Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782224)

Idiot editors inserting crap about the RIAA in everything now?

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

edward2020 (985450) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782308)

WRTFA (Without Reading the Fucking Article), I'd say nothing at all. There are international conventions concerning IP and its protection, which seems to indicate that this, indeed, has nothing to do with the RIAA. In this matter the US is engaging in unfair trade practices - in effect protecting American casinos from competition from oversees online gaming. It would be different if all gambling was illegal - but it's not.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782382)

WRTFA (Without Reading the Fucking Article), I'd say nothing at all.

Try it some day. Part of the "relief" provided by the WTO to Antigua is the right to ignore US copyrights (given that international enforcement of copyright laws is based on treaties backed by the WTO, they have the power to do this).

I suspect that anyone in the US downloading mp3s from Antigua will be "shocked" to discover that this only covers people in Antigua, not them.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782430)

If a US citizen purchases mp3s from an Antiguan website they are obtaining legal copies of the music. The WTO trumps the Berne Convention. I doubt that would stop the RIAA trying to go after people though.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784518)

The WTO doesn't trump the berne convention. It is only additional to it except where it specifically contradict is.

However, even under the berne convention, if you obtain copyright protected material, even music, from a source that it legitimate, or appears to be legitimate, you aren't not in violations. US law specifically deal with copying and distributing, not obtaining or possessing. When you get a copy of something from what you consider a legal source, you are not help liable with that respect. So yes, you are correct even if for different reasons then you thought.

As a side not, I'm sure the **ia's will attempt to use this as some way to get the law changed and make you responsible for the legitimacy of every copyright protected item that you posses.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782466)

I suspect that anyone in the US downloading mp3s from Antigua will be "shocked" to discover that this only covers people in Antigua, not them.

Agreed; if I'm in the US and download an mp3 from an Antiguan server, I'm creating a copy on my PC in the US, in violation of applicable copyright laws. But what if someone sets up a mail order shop in Antigua? Request an album, any album by a US artist, and it gets burned and mailed to you for a dollar. Then the customer hasn't violated anybody's copyright - he hasn't copied anything at all. The operator hasn't violated anybody's copyrights either - US copyrights don't apply in Antigua. So, no foul, play on!

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think the mere possession of unauthorised copies is not illegal - only their creation and sale. That's why it's called copyright, the right to copy.

Aiding and abetting I'm guessing (3, Informative)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782548)

Or maybe 'conspiracy to violate copyright laws'. The US government also has tax laws in its arsenal.

It just depends on how bad they want to get you. If they want you bad enough, expect them to pull rabbits out of their hats and aces from their sleeves.

Re:Aiding and abetting I'm guessing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782882)

You forgot:

They can also pull hares out of their arse.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

WaltBusterkeys (1156557) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782602)

Before you go out and buy a crate of CD-Rs, it's also illegal to import unlicensed copyrighted material and can be seized on import. See, for example, the Berne convention [wipo.int] .

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1, Insightful)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782824)

Then how about sell a subscription service where you can stream any song you want anytime you want from Antiguan servers? The songs are stored there, so you're not making a copy. Unless, of course, you copy the stream, or "circumvent" their stringent protections against copying songs directly. Wink wink, nod nod.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783078)

Then how about sell a subscription service where you can stream any song you want anytime you want from Antiguan servers? The songs are stored there, so you're not making a copy. Unless, of course, you copy the stream, or "circumvent" their stringent protections against copying songs directly. Wink wink, nod nod.
Isn't streaming it in effect making a copy though? In RAM if nothing else? I'm not saying that's right or that all streams leave a "copy" on your PC but I can see it being spun that way.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (0)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784012)

Well, yes, in a sense, but I thought that in at least one case, it was determined that "copies" in volatile RAM were not considered the same as copies saved to permanent media. IANAL, though, and given the judicial process, I'm sure that determination has gone both ways.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784524)

By that argument looking at a book creates a copy because there is an image of it on your retina. Or playing a copyrighted song creates a copy encoded in pressure waves radiating from the speaker.

It seems to me that a copy of a work must be a thing in itself, not a transitory phenomenon. Of course there is no perfect line between the two categories, but intent makes a difference. What is the difference between the bits of an MP3 stored in a file and the same bits in RAM? The RAM may in fact bet swapped out to a disk file. The difference is intent. Files are intended to be enduring, unless the user intervenes; memory caches are intended only to smooth playback and their contents are replaced without user intervention.

It is conceivable that I could play a song in a virtual machine, then suspend that virtual machine, which would result in the entire address space of the machine being written to disk. I could then burn the entire virtual machine to read only media, with the intent of being able to replay that song by restoring the virtrual machine to the state it was in at the very point it was playing the song. It'd be an extremely awkward way to commit copyright infringement, but it would still be an infringement because my intent was creating a fixed copy.

Re:Exactly what does this have to do with RIAA (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784606)

You don't make an illegal copy when you download something. The process doesn't go, entire file is transfered to you then copied then back to the server. The server makes the copy if the file stays put. Now, If I offer you something protected by a copyright, it is my obligation to ensure I give you everything concerning the copyright. When I keep a copy on my server after you download it, I am the one copying it not you. This is because I offered it to you and failed to give up my claim to it as the copyright insists.

Where this differs is when using something like bittorrent or some other P2P program where the process of you having or getting the file ends up with you giving it to other people. You are then copying and distributing it. But don't let them fool you. Simply downloading something is not you making the copy if they presented it to you to download. It is them not following through on their obligations to transfer the entire copy to you.

you're surely cracked (2, Interesting)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782240)

If you download a copyrighted song from a server in Antigua, will that be an ironclad defense that will make you invulnerable to future attacks from the RIAA?

This has got to be a joke. The concept of "unclean hands" is not applicable on an international policy-and-treaty basis. One cannot ignore the rule of one treaty because another country ignores the rule of another treaty. Even though the US Constitution ranks the treaty as being the supreme law of the land (theoretically above anything the executive, legislative or judiciary can do), this does not apply to whether or not you can legitimately grab a copy of Britney's latest dance video without concern for authority.

Re:you're surely cracked (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782410)

No, but it means Antigua can charge you 99 cents for said song.

Re:you're surely cracked (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782538)

Even though the US Constitution ranks the treaty as being the supreme law of the land (theoretically above anything the executive, legislative or judiciary can do), this does not apply to whether or not you can legitimately grab a copy of Britney's latest dance video without concern for authority.

I've said elsewhere that it will probably still be illegal for US citizens to download mp3s from Antigua - it's just the Antiguans who will no longer be committing an offence. But it could still make you invulnerable to attacks from the RIAA in a practical rather than a legal sense. Encrypted connection to server in Antigua, transfer music direct from vast central database, no P2P involved. Then the RIAA can't even begin to find out who's using the service.

The bandwidth costs would be high, so it would have to be subscription-only. A well-resourced adversary might be able to follow the money, but small Caribbean island nations tend to be discreet about such things.

Re:you're surely cracked (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783506)

The bandwidth costs would be high, so it would have to be subscription-only. A well-resourced adversary might be able to follow the money, but small Caribbean island nations tend to be discreet about such things.

If it was so easy to get money to them, then they wouldn't care about the law -now-. Antiguan companies don't care that they're breaking US law by allowing American citizens to gamble (the citizens themselves are not breaking the law), they care that the law has made it harder for these citizens to play with money. As it gets more and more non-trivial to do so, the customers stop reloading their accounts.

Re:you're surely cracked (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782786)

Yeah, but what we may see is a resurgence of the old HTTP/NNTP/FTP warez servers hosted in Antigua, which would cause problems to the MAFIAA's method of abusing the system by claiming that P2P services include "making available"....

Re:you're surely cracked (2, Insightful)

SEE (7681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783038)

Even though the US Constitution ranks the treaty as being the supreme law of the land (theoretically above anything the executive, legislative or judiciary can do)
Your parenthetical is completely wrong. Treaties are not necessarily any more the "supreme law of the land" than any other law of the United States. The supremacy law privileges the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States over the laws of the states, but it does not (clearly) rank treaties over laws. (It reads: "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.")

Since the Constitution in its text does not (clearly) privilege treaties over laws, we have to look to the interpretation in the courts of the clause to see how laws and treaties interact. The interpretation in the courts is that laws and treaties are equal, and a ordinary act of Congress can repeal a treaty.

But, even if we assume that treaties do outrank laws, it still doesn't matter in this case. Under the Constitution, a treaty requires the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate. The United States Senate did not ratify the Uruguay Round GATT by a two-thirds majority; instead, both houses of Congress adopted it by majority vote as an ordinary law. So the WTO and trade rules pursuant to it are either in effet as ordinary laws in the U.S. (if the Uruguay Round GATT could be adopted as ordinary legislation, which is the traditional interpretation of the courts), or they are of no legal force (under the minority view that it must be adopted through the treaty procedure to have force).

Re:you're surely cracked (1)

jdjbuffalo (318589) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784630)

I would like to quibble over one point on treaties vs. normal national laws. If you sign a treaty (assuming that it the whole treaty and not one broken into a thousand pieces, like some are) and then pass a law declaring one portion of that treaty to be illegal then the country is breaking the treaty and you could be held accountable by the other treaty members (this is all assuming that you don't also decide to pull out of the treaty). So in this sense the treaties would be a little more of a supreme law over the normal laws as you don't have this problem unless you're breaking the Constitution which is definitely a higher law.

Re:you're surely cracked (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783072)

I'm no expert on international law, but what law would I be breaking if I downloaded royalty free MP3s from antigua? Or to start a little simpler, what if someone went to antigua, burned a bunch of physical copies of discs, and sent them to me? AFAIK, copyright law merely restricts the activity of copying. Since the copying is done in Antigua where it's legal, US law won't apply. I don't know of any law against possessing or shipping unlicensed copies, so importation of the copy should be legal too. I would be in the clear as far as US law is concerned. How does all this change if the disks are transported via the internet instead of the post office?

Re:you're surely cracked (0, Troll)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783120)

Even though the US Constitution ranks the treaty as being the supreme law of the land (theoretically above anything the executive, legislative or judiciary can do)

FALSE FALSE FALSE FALSE FALSE.

Are you really so insane that you would think our founding fathers would write text that means "The President in collusion with the majority of the senate can pass a law that not only overrides previous actions but cannot be overridden by anything short of a constitutional amendment".

Roosevelt only would have needed to sign a treaty with Timbuktu to eliminate term limits. Imagine what Bush could do, or at least could have done before 2006. I suspect Chavez would be happy to sign the "No Voting Anymore" Treaty.

No, Sorry. Go back to civics class. The supremacy clause in fact places treaties at the exact same power as any other law passed by congress. Which mean roughly "last passed, most relevant". A treaty can change prior law, but likewise a congressional act can change how a treaty is enforced. In fact, the supremacy clauses whole purpose was to define treaties as superior to State laws and constitutions.

Furthermore, the supremacy clause only matters for treaties that are "self-enacting", which has fallen into extreme disfavor. Without self-enacting then in our system of gov't, Congress must pass enforcement laws before it's actually enforced upon the people. The DMCA is an example of one such law.

For point of relevance to this topic: The treaty that defined and entered the US into the WTO was not self-enacting.

And why would anyone think... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782254)

...that the US (especially the Bush administration) is going to even pay out a measly 21 million dollars a year? There's a certain arrogance on behalf of the US - to pay out on a ruling like this is akin to being pushed around.

Re:And why would anyone think... (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782424)

...that the US (especially the Bush administration) is going to even pay out a measly 21 million dollars a year? There's a certain arrogance on behalf of the US - to pay out on a ruling like this is akin to being pushed around.
Because they have to or face WTO sanctions, that's why.

Re:And why would anyone think... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782524)

Like they were ordered to for softwood lumber? We know how that turned out.

Re:And why would anyone think... (2, Interesting)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782636)

Or how they were ordered to for steel. We know how that turned out [bbc.co.uk] , too.

The difference being that the US's opponent in the steel case was the EU, whereas in the lumber case it was Canada; European retaliatory sanctions would have hurt. Which doesn't bode too well for Antigua, unless some big players decide to come in on their side. Europe actually might do just that; there are quite a few British gambling sites that would rather like access to the American market.

Then again, it remains to be seen how much Antigua's new status as a copyright free zone will hurt the US. A lot of media folk will scream. They own a lot of senators.

Re:And why would anyone think... (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782814)

That was a NAFTA case, and the US settled with Canada for several billion dollars.

Re:And why would anyone think... (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782572)

...that the US (especially the Bush administration) is going to even pay out a measly 21 million dollars a year? There's a certain arrogance on behalf of the US - to pay out on a ruling like this is akin to being pushed around.
Because they have to or face WTO sanctions, that's why.
As if the United States ever cared? We completely ignore the UN, so why not WTO? And it's not like WTO is the only one threatening the US with sanctions; the European Union has put some pressure on the US over this as well since it's sort of a multi billion dollar business over there as well.

The truth is that the current administration has had little concerns over foreign and domestic policy. And if something as utterly important as privacy or habeas corpus is thrown in the garbage, why would they even bother to pay Antigua? And more importantly, who the hell will stand up to the United States?

Re:And why would anyone think... (1)

Best ID Ever! (712255) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782886)

why would they even bother to pay Antigua?

The WTO doesn't work like that. Antigua gets to impose sanctions equivalent to the judgment (in this case, IP sanctions). Basically, Antiguans don't have to pay for music, movies, and software to the tune of $21 million per year.

There's nothing here to read.... (-1, Offtopic)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782346)

just posting to get my meta mod link back.....

Don't met mod down parent's mods (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782828)

they were doing what they're suppossed to do.

Circular logic. . . (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782436)

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative noted that Antigua was seeking sanctions worth more than three times the size of its entire economy.

"Antigua's claim was patently excessive," it said in a statement. "The United States is pleased that the figure arrived at by the arbitrator is over 100 times lower than Antigua's claim."


Yeah, but, the online gambling might've allowed Antigua's economy to grow 10 or 20 or 30 times it's current size. That's like saying it's unreasonable to increase a prisoner's rations from the crust of a slice of bread to 3 square meals a day because it's 10 times the food he's currently getting and it's excessive.

I'm no fan of gambling, but every time I see this gambling case in the news, I can see the obvious hypocrisy in play here. This is simply the US trying to protect the domestic gambling industry. If gambling were really that bad, the US would outlaw it altogether. But to say that it is legal for people to gamble here, but not with foreign operators, is simply disgusting.

close... (1)

absurdist (758409) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783612)

This is simply the US trying to protect the tax revenue generated by the domestic gambling industry.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Circular logic. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21783976)

This is simply the US trying to protect the domestic gambling industry.

That may be one reason, but it's not that simple. For example credit card companies want to steer clear of online gambling, since a large amount of customers cry "fraud" when they hit a major loss.

Then there is the matter that offshore gaming sites don't fall under U.S. jurisdiction and there is no way for our officials to verify their legitimacy.

Then there are legislators who really and truly feel gambling is morally wrong, or are pandering to the "Think of the Children" Christians. They certainly don't want to make it as easy as turning on a computer. A sub section of these may be the "not in my backyard" crowd, who think it's okay as long as it's in Vegas or on a reservation, meaning as long as it's inconvenient it's a tolerable practice (They're the ones who pass laws that say a casino in their city has to be on a river, even if it's just a permanent structure that looks like a boat.)

And of course there is as you say the domestic gambling industry, which is very rich and powerful and would prefer we go to casinos rather than play at home (though they would certainly back any domestic gambling sites were they to be allowed, and don't think they don't have huge hand in the offshore businesses as well as Caribbean casinos.)

I dunno... (1, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782474)

If you download a copyrighted song from a server in Antigua, will that be an ironclad defense that will make you invulnerable to future attacks from the RIAA?

Sorry, I only trust idiotic legal theories from New York Country Lawyer has weighed in to endorse them.

Um, What?... (4, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782486)

If you download a copyrighted song from a server in Antigua, will that be an ironclad defense that will make you invulnerable to future attacks from the RIAA?

Sorry, but what does that have to do with the the WTO, Antiqua, and the US ban on online gambling? And, if it does have anything to do with the topic(s) of the article (at work - busy - no time to read TFA right now), then it would be nice if the summary posted to /. made the connection clear so this statement didn't come completely out of left field...

Re:Um, What?... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782586)

Well, you had time to post.. reading TFA wouldn't have taken much longer, and the answer IS there...

Re:Um, What?... (1)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784222)

The relevant rule here is that the WTO can award damages, and one way they can do that is to allow Antigua to ignore US IP laws up to a certain value.

Re:Um, What?... (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784340)

It's a pork barrel comment appended to an actual story.

You must be new here.

Re:Um, What?... (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784720)

Incorrect, in cases such as these rather than fining the country in question, one form of restitution is to allow the winning country (Antigua) to "take payment" in the form of ignoring copyrights of the losing country (US) up to a certain value. This is a broad summary of this practice, you'll have to look up details on your own time. ;)

WTO proves to have no teeth (4, Informative)

EOG.com (1206452) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782542)

From Eye On Gambling http://www.eog.com/ [eog.com]

Antigua and Barbuda today expressed its mixed reaction to the ruling of the arbitrators issued today in its long running dispute with the United States over Internet gambling. The panel agreed with Antigua that it had no effective trade sanctions against the United States in the area of services and authorised Antigua to suspend its obligations to the United States in respect of copyrights, trademarks and other forms of intellectual property rights. However, it went on to set Antigua's level of annual trade loss at US $21.0 million, much less than the US $3.4 billion Antigua had requested, although considerably more than the US $500,000 the United States had proposed.

In an unprecedented approach that is sure to arouse controversy, the arbitrators assessed Antigua's level of damages based upon a hypothetical form of compliance proposed by the United States rather than through the withdrawal of the overall prohibition on the provision of remote gaming services. This decision resulted in a rare, perhaps unprecedented disagreement among the arbitrators, with one of the three panellists dissenting from the approach adopted by the other two members.

Mark Mendel, the lawyer who has been spearheading this case for the Antiguan government since it began back in 2003 observed "I am pleased that the panel approved our ability to cross-retaliate by suspension of intellectual property rights of United States business interests. That has only been done once before and is, I believe, a very potent weapon." Mr Mendel expressed less satisfaction with the amount of damages assessed. "I find it astonishing that two of the three panellists would in essence grant the United States the benefit of a hypothetical method of compliance most favourable to the American side in assessing Antigua's level of trade impairment. What appears to have been done here is assuming a form of compliance that has not happened and probably will not happen without giving Antigua the ability to contest the method under the WTO's normal procedures," he added. Unlike other WTO rulings, awards of arbitrators are not subject to review by the Appellate Body of the WTO.

While questioning the low number, Mr Mendel remains positive about the dispute going forward. "US $21 million a year in intellectual property rights suspension going forward indefinitely is not such a bad asset to have. I hope that the United States government will now see the wisdom in reaching some accommodation with Antigua over this dispute and look forward to seeing efforts in this regard."

Re:WTO proves to have no teeth (2)

thisissilly (676875) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783342)

"US $21 million a year in intellectual property rights suspension going forward indefinitely is not such a bad asset to have."

At RIAA prices of $100,000 per song [riaa.com] , that 21 million is a whopping 210 songs, not even enough to fill a 1GB Ipod Nano.

Re:WTO proves to have no teeth (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784668)

Where are they going to sell their $21 million in annual IP infringement? The US will almost certainly attempt to bully potential customers of Antiguan copies of American DVDs into not buying. Is the local demand in Antigua for US copyrighted goods equal to $21 million per year? Maybe, but they will probably have some trouble trying to sell these warez outside of Antigua.

Amount awarded (1)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782558)

Weird. They recognize the US is guilty but they just fine ? US infringement on the right of Antigua's casino is a continuous process but it looks like they're paying a one time fine. Wtf ?

Re:Amount awarded (1)

EVil Lawyer (947367) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782598)

Why does it look that way? The article specifically says it's a $21 ANNUAL fine.

Is this a win for Gordon Reeves and Slysoft? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782752)

Just curious...it seems that the decision about suspension of copyright and other IP rights might flow to the encryption "protecting" such rights.

Virtual Goods vs. Physical Goods (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782772)

I remember a few years ago a friend bought a bottle of Absinthe (liquor) from Europe after the EU laws changed, and it didn't get through customs. The web vendor notifed him before purchasing that that "could happen" and it was at his own risk. Absinthe seems like one of those "kind of questionable" things just like internet gambling was 7-8 years ago. (Enforced rarely and made illegal by virtue of re-interpretation/application of an old law.) Come to pass, the item was siezed in Customs. I don't know if that gets sent back, destoryed or becomes some agent's private stock.

It would seem that the beef Antigua has is that the US is stopping the transaction on the front end, and not the back-end. I highly doubt if the US forced US Banks to report any wire transfers coming from Antigua, and then the gov't siezed the "winnings" as they were paid back, that they'd have much of a leg to stand on. They don't care if their customers get nailed by the US Government for doing something illegal, other than if it happens enough it might be negative advertising if some grandma gets hammered for her $150 online blackjack winnings.

I understand the historical reasons behind the illegality of betting over the wire, but given that I can take a $99 flight to Las Vegas or go to Indian casinos across the county, it seems kind of irrelevant, and the US Gov't could still require US based online casinos to adhere to all the regulatory control the current brick-and-mortar ones do.

Regarding the **IA... I think if they can levy lawsuits on 80 year olds who don't even know who Brittney Spears is... I think they'll take a shot in the dark at someone pulling songs from off-shore accounts. They might get screwed however on US originating CDs sold there, but I'd imagine the royalty is already built into the price the retailers pay at wholesale.

Re:Virtual Goods vs. Physical Goods (1)

Bartab (233395) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783730)

They don't care if their customers get nailed by the US Government for doing something illegal

It is not federally illegal for US citizens to gamble online, so as long as you pay your taxes the feds are happy. It is illegal for banks to facilitate the transfer of funds to foreign online gambling providers.

Note that it is illegal for citizens to gamble under some state laws. Washington for example.

Re:Virtual Goods vs. Physical Goods (4, Interesting)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784084)

Absinthe seems like one of those "kind of questionable" things just like internet gambling was 7-8 years ago. (Enforced rarely and made illegal by virtue of re-interpretation/application of an old law.)

The NYTimes just had an article about how Absinthe was thought to be one of those "kind of questionable things" but the law that made it illegal was overturned as part of a more massive anti-prohibition law. So many people thought it was technically illegal, but in reality it was fine.

Oh yeah? (1, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782776)

In other news, the White House has released a statement demanding that Antigua halt its WMD programs...

Why do we keep doing this? (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782850)

From TFA:

The arrest in 2006 of two British Internet gambling executives while traveling through the United States also highlighted the U.S. government's escalation of its battle against the industry.
First Dmitry Sklyarov, now this. Here's an idea, why don't we NOT arrest people that were doing things legal in their country of residence, regardless of wether its are legal here? And people wonder why tourism is down, even though European buying power has skyrocketed in recent months.

Re:Why do we keep doing this? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784140)

Actually I think that's a major factor. How many people run gambling websites or trade with Cuba? IMO it's more that since 11th September 2001 US immigration procedures treat all foreigners in ways which, in Britain at least, we reserve for criminals. That's compounded by a lack of manpower, which means that the queues to have your fingerprints taken can take a very long time. The benefits of cheap goods and hotels don't outweigh the downsides of frustrating travel and insulting treatment.

Antigua Screwed (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21782970)

Antigua was screwed by this decision. The arbitrators should all be investigated for receiving payoffs or other compensation to make such an unfair ruling. And after the investigation, they should all be jailed!

Since the ban is still in place, does Antigua get additional damages ongoing, or is the $21M the whole thing now and forever?

frost 4ist (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21782990)

be forgooten in a of *BSD asswipes

Just say no to the WTO (1)

Thundercleets (942968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783016)

The rest of the US should not have to pay for an agency that is outside US law and was built to skirt the Congress of the US and the Constitution so that the top 10% can make more money.

A determination of the top beneficiaries of edicts of the WTO should be made to pay for the fees imposed by their monster.

Not that it would ever happen because in the US these days rich people do not pay taxes, fines or fees and no law affecting however they increase their wealth ever be made.

WTF? (2, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783050)

It's all because of Microsoft, so I for one welcome our new goat overlords because in Soviet Russia Linux runs YOU.

The above is as relevant to the issue of an unfair practices lawsuit over banking as is the gratuitous insertion of a question about copyright.

If the article can't stand on its own without throwing in an irrelevant hot button, it's not worth polluting the bit stream with it. I can see some such things getting by the editors, but there's so many of them that they must be selecting articles that have these.

Maybe next time I submit an interesting but non-inflammatory article, I should spice it up with an otherwise useless mention of RIAA, MPAA, Microsoft and SCO.

Oh, can I mention SCO, or does their bankruptcy proceedings prevent mentioning them on Slashdot?

Yeah, like that.

Mods notice: This is not a troll, because I mean it.
It may have hurmorous elements (actually, it's sarcasm), but it's not intended to be funny.
It is not flamebait, because it's not intended to elicit flames.
It is in fact a flame itself. There is not mod marker for that.
Mark it overrated if you like, but it's posted in all seriousness because of the lack of journalistic integrity when having same would cost nothing and produce a better publication.

I will go back to banging my head against a brick wall now.

Re:WTF? (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783306)

I agree with the gist of what you're saying, and I, too, was puzzled and annoyed at first by the addition of the RIAA comment, however the article does actually mention that Antigua and Barbuda were essentially awarded the right to violate U.S. copyrights in retaliation, so it is actually relevant. It's still pretty obvious flamebait, though.

Re:WTF? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784072)

To the moderator who heeded my plea: thank you for the -1 overrated rather than something irrelevant.

+1, Impotent Rage and Frustration (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784650)

is that the type of mod you were going for?

When you only have $21M to work with (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21783066)

When you only have $21M/year to work with, I'd recommend targeting it towards the single company, or two, who have the most to lose and will squeal the loudest at the US government for allowing this to happen. Don't spread it around so much that nobody feels your pain!

US just changing the treaty (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21783308)

It's interesting how the article describes the US as just saying "We'll end that treaty as we don't like it", and using its size to push this through. So much for treaties!

With things like Guatanamo and Water-Boarding coming into the news the US may start getting reputation problems.

Happy Birthday (1)

blueskies (525815) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784270)

I can just see a Happy Birthday song industry starting up there now. People will go on vacation there to sing Happy Birthday to their loved ones.

Funny is it? (1)

eiapoce (1049910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21784312)

relating to the US passage last year of a law that forbids banks from handling money to and from online casinos
Thus using internet to place investments in financial markets it is ufficially forbidden in the USA. :D
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