Featured: The Real Pirates Of The Caribbean

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Forget Johnny Depp and the Disney franchise, in fact, forget ships, the high seas and rum altogether, this piracy is digital. Apple is aggressively enforcing its intellectual property rights to the fullest extent of law to combat software piracy worldwide. The Cupertino-giant is working closely with Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Software Information Industry Association (SIIA).

Apple Flag

Software piracy is a widespread problem with estimated more than $11 billion is lost every year. In a report by Forbes.com, a chinese company named KuaiYong has launched a “full web version of Apple’s iOS app store, allowing users to help themselves to pirated content without even needing to jailbreak their devices.” Another scenario would be the Caribbean Island of Antigua.

The Caribbean island of Antigua, after a long running legal dispute with America, has been granted permission to ignore US copyright by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Whilst this is technically old news, it had previously been believed that Antigua would merely use this agreement to leverage the US for compensation or favourable trade negotiations. Recently, however, the Antiguan government announced plans to launch a website specifically to distribute American copyrighted media.

The original dispute is long and boring but essentially before the US deemed gambling totally illegal in some states it locked out foreign gambling websites. Antigua’s gambling industry was the island’s second largest employer and employed as much as 5% of its population. This was a huge blow for the economy and without a comparable method of retaliation against the US, it took its complaint to the WTO. The WTO ruled in Antigua’s favour and granted the tiny island permission to distribute American copyright material worldwide up to the value of 21 million dollars.

It’s unclear whether the figure of $21 million relates to net earnings or profit but without an enforceable price; songs, movies, computer games, books, pieces of software and anything else protected under US copyright could be sold for as little as a penny. In fact, if Antigua offered a subscription based streaming site, media could be even cheaper still. Should the government choose to be especially malicious or altruistic (depending on your viewpoint) it could give away content for free without ever reaching its imposed financial cap.

As already stated, this website was never supposed to come to fruition, the idea being to target Hollywood and in turn the strong political ties of the American film industry. The Antiguan government’s new announcement suggests this either hasn’t worked or that they intend to do the US some real damage. There are some limitations to the WTO agreement, however. It only grants permission to ignore US copyrights so any media that is copyrighted in other countries as well will have to have its rights complied with. This is especially true of software where programming can be contributed to by members of many different countries and is therefore copyrighted outside the US.

The good news is anyone with an internet connection and a computer may have the chance to purchase millions of gigabytes of American media at knock down prices, legally. That’s the really exciting point to this whole saga, downloading a potentially unlimited amount of music, films and games without it being piracy. It’s still as damaging as piracy. Upcoming bands won’t get any money to help fund a second album, although it’s debatable how much they get through ‘legal’ purchases anyway. Independent film makers and game studios might also suffer from a lack of funds but in the eyes of international law, crucially, it’s not piracy.

So what’s next? Well, the wise internet user is making sure they have plenty of additional hard drive space available, keeping their eye on technology blogs for updates and tuning up their broadband package for maximum download speed. Recent research by TalkTalk suggested that 40 per cent of broadband users are overpaying for their package and could be getting a much better deal. Now is definitely the time to maximise your connection speed and save some cash to spend on cheap American downloads.

Article supplied by TalkTalk.

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