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Business Comment

James Moore: Antigua's copyright comeback at Uncle Sam

Outlook Coming soon to a home cinema system near you: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) presents "The Online Poker Punch-Up" produced and directed by the Government of Antigua. Copyright? There is no copyright any more! Available for $1 at www.get-hollywood-for-nearly-nothing.com.

Antigua was doing rather well for itself out of the online poker industry, which employed more than 4,000 people and made a much-needed contribution to the Caribbean island's economy.

That was until the family values crowd decided to ban US citizens from playing.

It's a strange sort of politics which allows you to preach the virtues of free markets, liberty and allowing psychopaths to buy military-grade weapons but bar your citizens from spending their money how they want. At least if it involves playing poker.

The WTO thinks, understandably enough, that the US isn't playing fair with Antigua and the ban amounts to restraint of trade. And so it has allowed the island's application to ignore copyright law, thus imposing reciprocal sanctions on America's entertainment industry.

Those sanctions against unrelated industries based in countries that flout WTO rules? That was a US idea. That film I mentioned? Perhaps we should give our friends at the US Department of Justice an executive producer credit.