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US Gambling Law May Cause Flouting of IP Laws 231

Posted by Zonk
from the tit-for-tat dept.
Red Flayer writes "Slate Magazine reports that the US's recent actions to clarify restrictions of on-line gambling may have some very important unintended consequences. Antigua has challenged the legitimacy of the US's partial restrictions under the WTO, claiming that the laws represent a free trade infringement. What is so significant about this is that Antigua would be fully justified (and I imagine, would get a lot of support from other nations) in ignoring the US's patent and trademark laws. Freetrade.org has a more in-depth analysis (albeit with a predetermined opinion on the topic). Pre-register now for your copy of Antiguasoft Vista."
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US Gambling Law May Cause Flouting of IP Laws

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  • Great idea, unless you were expecting to run this somewhere that did still respect US copyright laws and agreements.
    • by whoever57 (658626)
      Great idea, unless you were expecting to run this somewhere that did still respect US copyright laws and agreements.
      Actually, I think it is not so simple. US copyright law allows you, as the owner of a legally made copy to run the s/w. Since the copy would legally made in Antigua, surely, one would have the right to use it under copyright law.

      Patents might be different, since patent law forbids the importation of products that violate US patents.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by NewWorldDan (899800)
        Nope, still a violation of copyright law. The US would still regard it as counterfit anywhere outside of Antigua and importation would still be illegal. Making it outside of the US is still a violation of US copyright law. On the other hand, it would be terribly difficult to police. The Antiguans would be free to set up a web site where anyone could download the latest from hollywood without fear of being shutdown. (just a fear of running out of bandwidth). Think of it as sailing out to international
        • Re:Antiguasoft Vista (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ratboy666 (104074) <fred_weigel@hotmail.3.14159com minus pi> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:24PM (#16877718) Homepage Journal
          Not quite.

          Yes, the US *could* either try (1) to make imports from Antigua illegal, or (2) to try to impose tariffs on such goods.

          In any case, Antigua can still sell to other countries. Also, the law or the tariff can come under judgement from the WTO again -- and, again, the US would lose.

          And continue to ignore the WTO (Canada and the softwood lumber dispute -- its happened before)

          Yes, the WTO may be seen as "toothless" by the US, but understand that Europe and China could simply aquire Microsoft/Disney/... goods through Antigua. These companies would be hurthing bad... and the hurting will be put back into policy. Soften up on the gambling; that's Antigua's livelyhood. Or, eliminate on-line gambling. Take your pick, US, you can't have both.

          Ratboy
  • Well sure (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:29PM (#16876030)
    The U.S. banning Internet gambling is a violation of free trade agreements, but we're doing it for all the "right" reasons.
    • Re:Well sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:49PM (#16876394)
      But the problem is that the US hasn't banned internet gambling. It has only banned some internet gambling, including all internet gambling outside the USA. If all internet gambling were banned, the US could cry 'moral grounds' and the problem would go away. But since they aren't, and instead only allow US-based internet gambling...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        Also, keep in mind that Nevada just approved mobile gaming, which means on your cellphone. Arguing that internet gambling and gambling in a casino are different is a legitimate argument. Arguing that mobile gambling and internet gambling (normally we'd call all this "Gaming" but I realize that this is slashdot so I'm altering my terminology) are substantially different is laughable to say the least.
        • The fact that the USA allows casinos is irrelevent. Read the article, the problem is that the US allows in-state, horse-racing, and gambling sites based on Native American reservations to operated unimpeded. So, the US allows internet gambling right now. You just have to base it in the USA. That's a clear violation of trade treaties.

          They are not arguing that internet gambling and casino gambling are the same thing. No need: the USA has legal internet gambling sites that they are protecting, in direct v
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Read the article, the problem is that the US allows in-state, horse-racing, and gambling sites based on Native American reservations to operated unimpeded. So, the US allows internet gambling right now. You just have to base it in the USA. That's a clear violation of trade treaties.

            I realize what you're saying. I'm quite aware of what the US allows in the way of gaming - I work in a Tribal casino in northern California. The US might allow internet gambling, but no state allows it.

            They are not arguing

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Tet (2721)
              Show me one. No state permits internet gaming, not even Nevada

              Sure they do. To the best of my knowledge, every single US state permits online gambling. Residents of any state can quite legally go to an online broker and gamble on commodities or forex futures.

            • by terrymr (316118)
              Washington state expressly permits interstate/intrastate online betting on horse races. All other online gambling is a class C felony ... the same as possession of child porn.
          • The fact that the USA allows casinos is irrelevent. Read the article, the problem is that the US allows in-state, horse-racing, and gambling sites based on Native American reservations to operated unimpeded.

            There's not really much the US can do to prevent Indian gaming as long as the casinoes are on reservation. None of the treaties signed between Indian tribes and the US government, of which the US has broken a bunch already, bars tribes from having casinoes.

            Falcon
            • It can do exactly as much about them as it can about gaming in Antigua: prohibit them from offering gambling online to US citizens. Since it doesn't, Antigua can claim that the laws prohibiting them from offering such sites are only to protect the sites that are allowed to operate.
      • by gd2shoe (747932)
        But the problem is that the US hasn't banned internet gambling.

        Yes they have, unless there is an exception that I don't know about.
        (they haven't banned gambling in person, though many states have).
    • by terrymr (316118)
      The "lefties" banned online gambling in washington state ... but then the gambliing commission seems to be a bunch of micromanaging wack jobs here ... for example we're legally required to call the police before holding a raffle for a non-profit org.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#16876078) Journal
    FTFA if piracy is indeed a breeding ground for money laundering and terrorist operations...

    Huh, I wasn't aware that piracy was actually used as a legitimate front for laundering money - and since it isn't a legitimate business, why not just nab the money launderers on IP infringement charges? I'm also suprised that terrorists are the ones making money by selling infringing media to support their attacks on the western world - it seems that most of the cash in piracy is the simple loss of revenue through supression of sales of new material.

    Sounds like a full helping of FUD.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:39PM (#16876232) Journal
      Hey, how about putting that quote in its context?
      FTA:
      Two drawbacks of retaliating through intellectual property rights may give pause to Antigua and Barbuda. First, if piracy is indeed a breeding ground for money laundering and terrorist operations, then encouraging the development of a safe haven for intellectual property rights violators may not be in Antigua and Barbuda's interests. Second, Antigua and Barbuda may decide that suspending its obligation to protect the intellectual property rights of American companies is not in its trading interests.
      Maybe you misunderstand -- the US can't nab the launderers on IP charges if they are in Antigua, short of invading.

      it seems that most of the cash in piracy is the simple loss of revenue through supression of sales of new material.
      No, most of the cash in piracy is from selling bootlegged material. What you are describing is potential losses by the IP holders.
  • the right? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#16876086) Homepage
    Does our government have any constitutional right to outlaw gambling? And even if they do, doesn't the lottery exhibit gross hypocrisy?

    The same can be said of prostitution and many other illegal things.

    Really, our government should be protecting our rights, however trivial, unless there is an obvious, and scientifically-supported public health/safety reason to do otherwise.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Daravon (848487)
      Like cigarettes? *ducks*
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dunbal (464142)
      And even if they do, doesn't the lottery exhibit gross hypocrisy?

            "A lottery is but a tax on fools" - Unknown.
      • Re:the right? (Score:4, Informative)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:00PM (#16876588) Homepage Journal
        The lottery is no different from any other gambling. There are odds, you know the odds, there is money, you spend the money. The people you give the money to thank you. Someone will definitely win a chunk of that money, but it probably won't be you. Gaming in a casino gives you better odds to win something - the lottery however offers larger payouts than casinos do. Typically you won't find any way to win more than one million at a time in a casino although I guess some of the guaranteed multi-site promotions are running higher than that.
      • by Sparr0 (451780)
        Or a tax on people who know about and support where the money is going [tnlottery.com]
        • by tweek (18111)
          I haven't looked at the link yet but my problem with the lottery was always that the funds would be used for education. Then of course the funds go into a general fund of which education gets a percentage. If the funds were in a (god help me here) "lock box", I would probably support it more. I think maybe the lottery money should go for the people who spend all thier money on the lottery. The stupid people.

          Of course I get pissed because Georgia follows the same hipocracy of outlawing gambling while having
      • "A lottery is but a tax on fools" - Unknown.

        I've always herd it as, "The lottery is a tax on people who can't do math."

    • Re:the right? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AJWM (19027) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:41PM (#16876260) Homepage
      Does our government have any constitutional right to outlaw gambling?

      Probably not, but it's amazing what the Supreme Court has let Congress get away with under the coloring of the interstate commerce clause. (Congress is constitutionally authorized to regulate interstate commerce, so they throw some fiction about same into almost every bill they think might be a little dodgy. Works, too, except where they're trying to do something explicitly forbidden to them by the constitution.)
      • Re:the right? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:50PM (#16876424) Journal
        Probably not, but it's amazing what the Supreme Court has let Congress get away with under the coloring of the interstate commerce clause.
        When the Supremes allows Congress to make regulations affecting food grown by a farmer on his own land and eaten in his own house, they gutted the limitations on the federal government's power. Look also at the recent decision about CA's medicinal marijuana law -- essentially what they said was that the Feds could control it because they have a legitimate interest in so doing -- do they understand the concept of a circular argument?
        • by wwahammy (765566)
          To be fair that wasn't really what they said. They said that the government has a legitimate interest in regulating interstate commerce, in this case the drug trade. The court said that the "market" for marijuana isn't limited to one state and therefore to allow a state to legalize it for any reason would affect that interstate marijuana market. Its not a circular argument; its just a huge stretch of logic. Or as some might say, dumb.
          • by Lehk228 (705449)
            a huge, goatse-like streatch of logic
          • by whoever57 (658626)

            The court said that the "market" for marijuana isn't limited to one state and therefore to allow a state to legalize it for any reason would affect that interstate marijuana market.

            A strict reading of the constitution shows that the Feds are allowed to regulate "Commerce ...among the several States," in other words, actual interstate commerce and not "anything that affects interstate commerce." Fundamentally, it is hard to think of any activity that does not affect some kind of interstate commerce, givi

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      And even if they do, doesn't the lottery exhibit gross hypocrisy?
      Well, that's exactly the point of Antigua's claim. The US allows some gambling -- they even allow some online gambling; therefore, banning all offshore gambling amounts to unfair trade restrictions.

      As to Constitutional right, since when has that mattered?
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        Actually, we don't allow online gambling. We allow mobile gambling in Nevada - at least, I think that finally passed - but you are not permitted to run an online gambling site from within the US. Mobile gambling is different only in that you are required (legally) to show up and sign up, so the idea is that it's kept within the state that way. From there you are free to play video keno on your cellphone in the bathroom.
        • by cens0r (655208)
          Actually you can gamble online for horse racing. Also, the law that really bans internet gambling was the wire act which would technically allow you to set up an online casino in one state and only accept bets from people in that state.
          • by terrymr (316118)
            Oddly enough the supreme court refused to overturn a lower court ruling that the wire act only applies to telephone betting on sporting events. So online casino's techincally were not illegal and probably still aren't given the wooliness of the wording in the new act.

        • by terrymr (316118)
          Under the recent (and previous) law, interstate gambling on horse races is legal and Intrastate gambling on anything your state chooses to allow is also legal. So It's hard to argue that we permit no online gambling which is exactly what the US Government tried to tell the WTO.
    • Re:the right? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TheDukePatio (621176) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:53PM (#16876478)
      The US Government didn't outlaw gambling. They outlawed the method of monetary transfer to gaming sites. While it's a very fine difference, it is a difference nonetheless. They couldn't outlaw gambling because it's a state decided issue (i.e. Nevada & Jersey). The law's intended consequence was to *effectively* ban on-line gambling because US citizens have no way to get funds to/from those sites. They knew they couldn't outlaw gambling so they took away the foundation, the money.

      One of the main problems with the way US laws are passed is the ability to slip things like this in to a larger bill that noone would dare vote 'no' on since it would be political suicide and very few politicians have the balls to stand up on issues like this.

      Sen. Jones: "Don't re-elect Sen. Smith. He voted 'no' on the bill that would outlaw killing babies"
      Sen. Smith: "I voted no because someone slipped in an unrelated ammendment banning sending money to gambling sites"
      Sen. Jones: "But you still voted 'no' to outlawing killing babies! Sen. Smith thinks that babies should be killed on sight!"

      While the above example is extreme, it represents the mentality of politicians in Washington DC with regard to things like this. It's also the amount of swagger that the PACs have in US government. What ever happened to voting on common sense and doing what's right for a change.

    • Re:the right? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:59PM (#16876564)

      Does our government have any constitutional right to outlaw gambling? And even if they do, doesn't the lottery exhibit gross hypocrisy?

      No they don't have any right. This is simply the result of successful lobbying by the casinos. Since when does it matter if it is unconstitutional?

      The same can be said of prostitution and many other illegal things.

      You chose a bad example. Prostitution is not illegal in the US. Most states have made it illegal, but that is a different topic.

      Really, our government should be protecting our rights, however trivial, unless there is an obvious, and scientifically-supported public health/safety reason to do otherwise.

      Yeah, if only here was a method we could use to elect people that would do that. Unfortunately, the majority of people no longer value freedom. This includes both democrats and republicans. Most people think it is perfectly fine to pass laws that take away the rights of others if other people are doing things they disapprove of. The last time I pointed out freedom for individuals to make choices I was told "you're afraid of the democratic process." Freedom is dead as cultural value. It lives on only for a tiny minority and as a buzzword for corrupt politicians trying to pass another law to remove more of it.

      • by terrymr (316118)
        No they don't have any right. This is simply the result of successful lobbying by the casinos. Since when does it matter if it is unconstitutional?

        The American Gaming Assocation (MGM, Harrahs etc) is opposed to federal restrictions on online gambling ... so who was lobbying for the casinos ? This was a leech/frist personal project.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PhxBlue (562201)

        You chose a bad example. Prostitution is not illegal in the US. Most states have made it illegal, but that is a different topic.

        Though it does explain why Congress isn't all behind bars. *Rimshot!*

    • by gd2shoe (747932)

      ...The same can be said of prostitution ...
      our government should be protecting our rights ... unless there is an obvious, and scientifically-supported public health/safety reason to do otherwise.

      I think you left a hole in your arguement. And, no, a problem does not need to be pandemic to be a public health/safety concern.
      (To stretch it a bit further, also bear in mind the current-age/liberal definition of of the word "health". It has changed over the last few years in both medical and legal terms.)

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:31PM (#16876088) Homepage
    You realize - if Antigua or anyone else - claims we are violating Free Trade and goes ahead with ignoring IP, we will have no choice but to assign them to the axis of evil and then invade.

    Actually the article was interesting. I wondered what kind of mess the recent online gambling act would create. Oh, and I read, too, that it doesn't anywhere prohibit US firms from creating gambling sites aimed at foreign markets.

    Interesting world, we live in here with the interweb...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by diersing (679767)
      They were able to accomplish this by installing a series of one-way valves in the Interweb's tubes.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      Oh, and I read, too, that it doesn't anywhere prohibit US firms from creating gambling sites aimed at foreign markets.

      That's because the law already prohibits operating a game of chance within the borders of the various states besides Nevada. Nevada prohibits running an online gaming operation, though they do allow the subtly-different "mobile gaming" IIRC.

  • by Hankenstein (107201) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @05:34PM (#16876138) Homepage

            Yes, it is a stretch, however, anybody else see any similarities between the U.S. forbidding offshore gambling and China forbidding everything *we* think is good?
  • If you don't like online casinos, stay away from them. There, problem completely solved (except for the nagging problem of online casino spam...).
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:21PM (#16876910) Homepage
    1) The US government clearly has the authority to make it illegal for a US citizen, inside the US to gamble, on or off the internet. Such laws already exist and have existed for MANY decades.


    2) The act in question does not do that at all. Instead it makes it illegal for US credit card companies to send payments to Internet Gambling sites. Again, this is entirely legal for the US to do. It is not a free trade issue at all. In fact, it gives a HUGE advantage to non-US companies. Foreign Credit card companies are happy, they may break into the US market. If you get a European Credit Card, even when in the US, you may use your European Credit Card to pay gambling debts to Internet gambling sites, because the European Credit Card company is not subject to US laws.


    3) The problem that Antigua is claiming is that the US does allow certain types of Internet gambling, and therefore under WTO agreements, it must allow all. The WTO has offered the US to either fully ban all internet gamblign of any kind, or to let all in. The US has not yet decided which to do. The WTO would be fine if the US banned everything.

    4) The problem has NOTHING at all to do with the recently passed Act, the Antigua law suit was begun in 2003, the Act passed in 2006.

    5) I think the idea that Antigua would violate patents and copyrights more than it already does is silly. The US has so many, many, ways, far short of violence to punish Antigua, such as cutting off ALL payments of any kind to any company based in Antigua, that it would stupid for Antigua to do this. Instead, they will do something smarter, like impose a Tax on US services.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JazzyJ (1995)
      1) The US government clearly has the authority to make it illegal for a US citizen, inside the US to gamble, on or off the internet. Such laws already exist and have existed for MANY decades.

      No, actually they don't. The federal govt. would like you to THINK they do, but the reality is the US Govt cannot do so. The laws that existed prior to what got snuck into the safe port act have to do with interstate gambling. e.g.: Me, in Missouri, placing bets on the phone to a bookie in California. They can't pass a
      • by terrymr (316118)
        Also, the wire act only prohibits bets on sporting events, not poker, not casino games in general. The supreme court declined to overrule the lower courts ruling on this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lanoitarus (732808)
      >

      I don't think you understand how credit cards work, let alone this law. The law makes it illegal for any company with OPERATIONS in the US to faciliate payments between US citizens and gambling sites offshore. This does not mean just US companies. For instance, my HSBC (Which is a UK company) credit card is also prohibited from doing this. Technically, if a company with zero US presence were to give me a credit card, they would be allowed to do as they wished--- but without a US presence, how would
    • by Sloppy (14984)
      The US government clearly has the authority to make it illegal for a US citizen, inside the US to gamble, on or off the internet.
      If that is clear, then the Tenth Amendment is opaque.
  • by dAzED1 (33635) <brianlamere@y a h o o . c om> on Thursday November 16, 2006 @06:30PM (#16877052) Homepage Journal
    "free trade infringement" - if it's being made illegal in general, then the same opportunities exist outside the US as do inside the US. Thus, "free trade."

    Sortof like the Supreme Court case a couple years ago that said if a state allows wineries within the state to ship wine to indivual people, they have to allow other states to ship wine into the state to individual people.
  • Pre-register now for your copy of Antiguasoft Vista

    Yes, but does it run GNU/Antigua?
  • Internet gambling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday November 16, 2006 @07:17PM (#16877654) Homepage
    The problems with this are regulation, taxation, and operation. You would not believe the hurdles that have to be gone through to set up a casino in the US. Any jurisdiction. Tribal casinos have the same issues as do those on "riverboats" and in Nevada.

    An online casino has none of these. You can operate out of a basement somewhere. No rules, no oversight, no regulation. And, perhaps most importantly, no taxation. The rules the casinos have to follow in Las Vegas ensures two things: fair play and reporting every dime of "take" by the casino as well as every dime won by players. An offshore online casino is not going to be subject to these requirements.

    Of course the "fair play" regulation is going to be waved about. As well it should. How the heck do you know anything about an online casino, anyway? Through their advertising? Player testamonials? Somehow I don't think that comes anywhere near reality.

    And I doubt very much if you open the door to Internet gaming in general if you are going to be able to regulate it in any manner whatsoever. How would any government prevent some Ponzi-style operation from having a casino where everyone wins for the first couple of weeks? How long would you really need to keep it going? A month? Two? I guess it would depend on how greedy you were. I can't imagine any way of regulating such operations. And believe me, I would want to set up my very own online casino tomorrow if I could. Can't imagine a better way to bring in a lot of cash fast. Even a quasi-legitimate operation that returns 99.99% of all money bet would have incredible payoff to the operator.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by philg (8939)

      An online casino has none of these. You can operate out of a basement somewhere. No rules, no oversight, no regulation.

      You suffer from the misperception that entities opereating outside United States law operate outside all law. This is not the case. Many online casinos are based in England, which regulates them heavily to ensure fair play. The same is true of Antiguan casinos. If the government does not regulate (and therefore certify) the fairness of the casino, there will be significantly diminished

  • Just make it illegal where it's illegal in the United States. Where gambling is legal you can gamble online per the regulations of the community. There would probably be a requirement to show that your in a legalized zone and the type of gambling your doing is legal which would mean going to a physical location. It would probably also require local taxes to be paid; which is a partial reason why communities legalize gambling.

    You can then point and show that they have equal access to the gambling market t

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