From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
ANTIGUA GOES ROGUE
Antigua calls for pirates to return to Caribbean
If US ignores our laws can we ignore theirs?
By Burke Hansen in San Francisco
Antigua and Barbuda – a nation of 70,000 in an area roughly half the
size of San Francisco – has formally requested that the WTO allow it
to suspend its intellectual property obligations to the United States,
Although many in the US have mocked tiny Antigua’a case against the US
with a shrug of the shoulders, the Antiguans have always carried in
their pockets a nuclear option of sorts. Most Americans view trade
disputes through the prism of tit-for-tat protectionist schemes. A
perceived price subsidy leads to retaliatory tariffs, etc; but the
obligations imposed by WTO obligations run deeper than that.
Repeated violation of WTO commitments in the face of contrary WTO
rulings allows a victimized member country ultimately to suspend its
own WTO obligations to the offending nation – a form of restitution
much more punitive than tariffs alone. America runs a steady and hefty
trade deficit in virtually every category of international trade other
than intellectual property.
Were the WTO – with possible European, Japanese, and Chinese support –
to allow the Antiguans to suspend all intellectual property
obligations to the United States, the American IP industry could face
a tiny adversary with an unlimited right to reproduce for its own
benefit American IP goods of any kind.
This is no joke – America has done everything it can to stamp out the
internet gambling industry, particularly that of Antigua in the three
years since Antigua first challenged the US before the international
body the US itself worked so hard to create. Antigua originally hoped
to develop its ecommerce segment to reduce its dependence on tourism,
but, as a result of American interference, in the last few years the
Antiguan internet gaming industry has shrunk by about 85 per cent.
And little Antigua is not the only country feeling the pinch. The UK,
which has possibly the most well-regulated gambling market in the
world – at the very least among the major economies – has sat back and
watched as the DOJ has repeatedly arrested UK businessmen and
The idea that other countries will put up with this abuse indefinitely
may finally have run its course. Once one country chooses to revise
its definitions of its own commitments, as the US claims it will do,
other impacted countries may do the same. The only question now is
whether the major American trading partners – Europe, Japan, and China
– join the party.
Antigua and Barbuda Raises the Stakes
$3.4 billion. That’s the price tag Antigua and Barbuda, the island
nation which successfully argued that the United States was violating
its obligations to open its market to foreign online gambling
providers, puts on its lost revenues as a result of the U.S. ban on
some internet gambling.
They are seeking to recover the money by withdrawing the protection
they provide for American intellectual property. The idea behind this
sort of action is to harness the power of a powerful lobby group (in
this case, Hollywood and the software industry) to counteract the
influence of anti-internet gambling groups: If intellectual property
owners are caught in the cross-fire of the dispute, maybe the United
States government would feel more pressure to comply with the series
of rulings against current U.S. regulations.
Fake Disney park faces closure
May 10, 2007
Metro UK – Disney bosses are in crisis talks with the owners of a
‘fake’ Chinese version of the famous amusement park.
The Shijingshan Amusement Park included a raven-haired woman with
seven men in elf suits, a ‘Mickey’ mouse and other Disney-style
Deputy general manager, Yin Zhiqiang, said: “The characters in our
park just look a little bit similar to theirs. But the faces, clothes,
sizes and appearances are different.”
“We do not have any agreements with Disney.”
Despite the striking similarities to foreign characters, Yin insisted
the Beijing park’s are all locally designed.
“Take our Cinderella as an example. The face of Disney’s Cinderella
face is European, but ours is a Chinese. She looks like a young
Chinese country girl,” he said.
At the center of the park is a building labeled “Cinderella’s Castle”
on park maps. It bears a striking resemblance to the original at
Disneyland in California.
The copy has led to strained ties with the United States, whose trade
deficit with China soared to US$232.5 billion last year.
Over the weeklong May Day holiday, the Shijingshan Amusement Park
filled its grounds on Beijing’s western suburbs with actors in
costumes that resembled Disney and other foreign characters.
Disney is too far, so please come to Shijingshan
A video shot by Japan’s Fuji TV showed children cavorting with Minnie
Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and
Japan’s Hello Kitty and Doraemon.
A banner over the entrance said, “Disney is too far, so please come to
The banner has now been taken down and none of the cartoon characters
were on display, as crisis talks with Disney continue.
An employee who would give only her surname, Li, said the performances
usually occur during the summer and holidays.
Lawyers for the park and the Walt Disney Co. were in negotiations,
said Yin, the deputy general manager of the park, which is owned by
the government of Beijing’s Shijingshan District.
“The results will come out in a couple of days,” he said.
A Disney spokeswoman, Alannah Goss, declined to comment on the
Shijingshan park but sent a statement affirming Disney’s determination
to fight copying.
“Disney values and protects its intellectual property vigorously and
takes reports of suspected infringement very seriously,” the statement
In a mixup of cartoon images, the castle ticket booth is built to look
like Snow White, while a nearby statue of a woman with seven dwarves
is the golden-haired Sleeping Beauty.
Two workmen with sledgehammers could be seen tearing down the Sleeping
Beauty statue. But Yin, refused to say why.
Disney-ABC: “We understand piracy now as a business model”
By Nate Anderson / October 10, 2006
After years of clinging to traditional business models, media
companies have finally started embracing ad-supported Internet
distribution in a big way. Yesterday’s announcement that several major
music labels made nice with YouTube may turn out to be a watershed
moment for the industry. Instead of attempting to sue the company out
of existence, everyone got together and forged a mutually beneficial
deal that’s pretty good for consumers, too.
Now comes news from Disney-ABC that content producers have had a
revelation: instead of simply trying to squash piracy, it might be
more productive to understand and compete with it. That’s the message
brought by Anne Sweeney, the president of Disney-ABC Television Group
and one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” according to
“So we understand piracy now as a business model,” said Sweeney in a
recent analyst call. “It exists to serve a need in the marketplace
specifically for consumers who want TV content on demand and it
competes for consumers the same way we do, through high-quality, price
and availability and we don’t like the model. But we realize it’s
effective enough to make piracy a key competitor going forward. And
we’ve created a strategy to address this threat with attractive, easy
to use ways to for viewers to get the content they want from us
legally; in other words, keeping honest people honest.”
When you start thinking this way, the goal becomes offering a more
compelling product than file-swapping networks can provide, rather
that attempting (for instance) to sue the users who like your content.
For ABC, this has meant launching their own streaming media player and
providing shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives online only minutes
after they air.
Earlier this year, ABC launched its player on a two-month trial basis.
It was an instant hit (almost 6 million people requested episodes) and
did well enough for the network that they elected to bring it back
permanently in September after working out a way to compensate
affiliates who were being cut out of the revenue pie.
Our own experiences with the revamped player have been positive.
Though it does not fill the entire screen, the video looks good and
comes in 16×9 format. It won’t replace your HDTV, but it’s a nice way
to get a quick Lost fix, and the (unskippable) commercials don’t
detract from the experience. It’s nice to see a network like ABC
responding to piracy not by locking down its content even more
tightly, but by making it easily available to even more people.
While it’s hard to compete with free, it’s not impossible-witness the
success of iTunes in both music and TV shows. You just have to offer a
compelling product at a reasonable price that is simpler to use than
the alternatives. When ABC introduced its own shows into iTunes
earlier this year at $1.99 a pop, it sold more than 8 million of them
without damaging its TV ratings at all.
The Independent Review / Volume 11 Number 4 / Spring 2007
The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Privateers
By Alexander Tabarrok
“Privateers-private ships licensed to carry out warfare-helped win the
American Revolution and the War of 1812 but fell into disuse after the
federal government made it hard to monitor their performance. Like the
government’s use of private military companies in today’s hotspots,
privateering was an instance of the “contracting out” of security
services, not the full privatization of security, and thus operated in
the context of incentives and constraints established by the
“Possible the best of PLW. A one-of-a-kind chronicle of an era of
history that the Western World would love to forget: the heyday of
Ottoman and independant Barbary Piracy. Read about thousands of
Moricos (Spanish Muslims) who joined the Barbary fleets en masse after
being kicked out of Spain after the Inquisitions and their unique
imprint on emerging Morrocan society; read about the thousands of
European “Renagadoes” who happily dropped out of the Western world and
its stifiling oppression to take up the green banner of Islam; read
about life as a Renagado Corsair and some rare accounts of their
lives. Destoy your myths about piracy and “jihad.” Despite PLW’s
eccentricites and (at times) weird agenda, this book is a masterpiece,
“I really thought this book was great. It has a unique stance and is
not just written from a historical perscpective. Wilson’s premise is
that the pirate republic of Salle was actually the first democracy
(leadership not based on class, race or money) even before the French
Revolution, though I’m still a bit skeptical on that point, I thought
it was well argued and a good read. I’ve actually bought this book a
few times and given it away to freinds and had to buy a it again! I
especially liked the chapter on female pirates.”
“‘Pirate Utopias’ is a refreshingly new look at an almost forgotten
episode in European/North African history. Wilson not only examines
the lives and actions of several notorious pirates in order to
identify their incentive, but paints them against a colourful backdrop
of a restricted Christian Europe, comparing this picture with the more
democratic tendencies of the Islamic nations. During the period
concerned (from the 16th to the 19th century), several thousand
European Renegadoes renounced Christianity to join the pirate “jihad”.
In Wilson’s view,only a few had been forced to convert, but the
majority may have chosen Islam in order to practise social resistance.
The author’s view on the socio-political aspects is challenging our
pre-conceived perceptions on piracy in particular and history (in the
Hegelian Monumentalist sense) in general. He describes the Bou Regreg
republics as the first democratic spaces ashore-the pirate ships
already being such. While the main subject of the book is to examine
and re-evaluate the relationship between Islamic pirates and European
renegades, Wilson also uses the figure of Corsair Captain Murad Reis
as a link to inspect piracy in 17th century Ireland. Because a closer
look would stretch the limits of this book, he kept it brief, just as
he only mentions the Uskoks in a footnote. Consequently the latter
Utopias of Hispaniola, Libertatia and Nassau are confined to the last
chapter. It is a generally well-researched book,which is very exciting
in its innovative take on piracy in relation to larger social
structures. An exciting book which satiates your literary appetite
only to leave you wanting more! And good fun to read, too…”
1. Alamariu, Dan. “Hung from the Mizzenmast: Pirate Attempts at the
Formation of Political Communities during the 17-19th Centuries” Paper
presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies
Association, Town & Country Resort and Convention Center, San Diego,
California, USA, 2006-03-22
Abstract: “The paper analyzes attempts by pirates to form stable
political communities. By drawing on Eric Hobsbawn’s work on bandits
and the state-formation theories put forward by Charles Tilly, the
paper first asks what motivates violent sea-borne economic actors to
attempt establishing political structures. Second, the paper looks at
the failure of pirates and privateers to set up their own political
communities. The first part of the paper puts forward three potential
explanations for the relatively common attempts by sea-borne bandits
during the 17th-19th century, to set up their own political
communities. First, pirate political communities grew out of simple
necessity. While operating at sea, as self-contained communities,
where rules were enforced through coercion (or threat thereof), pirate
ships behaved similar to the Weberian idea of what constitutes a
political community. Second, on many pirate vessels, there was a
specific normative utopian sentiment, emphasizing relatively
democratic and equalitarian principles. For these reasons, pirating
vessels have often been described as “republics-at-sea.” This utopian
aspect is also seen in pirate attempts at setting up political
communities on land, such as on Tortuga, Mauritius, Borneo or in
Madagascar. Thirdly, the attempts at formation of land-based political
communities, was the result of the success of piratical activities
which in turn, required safe havens, or ideally, trading entrepots
(e.g. Reunion, Tortuga and Port Royale). The second part of the paper
analyzes the success of pirates at setting up political communities,
specifically land-based communities, since ships as “republics-at-
sea,” tended after all, to be temporary, contractual operations.
Pirate attempts at forming land communities were possible because of
great power inattention or encouragement. Ultimately, pirate attempts
at the formation of land-based political communities have historically
failed. While land-based bandits have sometimes been able to make the
transition from robber barons to kings, pirates have not been
successful in this regard. Both bandits and pirates thrive in
anarchical situations. However, as land-bandits are more likely to be
domestic actors, they risk retaliation only from one state; in the
case of a weak state (i.e. anarchy), their chance to become a
political force is significant. Pirates on the other hand, by
definition act in an anarchical environment as international actors;
as such they always face the risk of retaliation from more than one