Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Korean Copyright Fun

Much a to-do has been made by a decision by Korean file sharing operators to ban together to stop illegal file sharing until an agreement has been made to legalize things. The Korean Assoication of Phonograph Producers (KAPP) is oviously tickled pink by the news:

Responding to music industry requests to block illegal music sharing, the association of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service providers in South Korea have decided not to allow transfers of MP3 music files, as of Friday. 

"We held an urgent meeting last week, and eight of 11 member companies agreed to block MP3 files until we find ways to charge users,’’ said Jun Hyun-sung, chairman of the association.

The swapping is indeed illegal, and the current move is likely part of an effort by Korean internet companies to stop talks of more draconian methods to stop illegal sharing. However one has to wonder what impact this will have on copyright violations stemming from P2P type services. Consider this article that came out during my blogging-absence:

Many P2P services such as Cooldisk and e-Donky (sic) are still allowing their users to share songs without paying the copyright holders. Service providers such as Cooldisk, Folder Plus and Purna all refused to comment on the issue. 

Moreover, foreign-based P2P services are getting more popular after Soribada was shut down in November, as they are not subject to South Korean laws. 

"It’s impossible to completely block illegal file sharing,’’ said 30-year-old Jang Jae-woong, saying he often uses e-Donky to download music. "Maybe, some people will pay for the music on the Internet when Soribada opens. But there are always ways to get around the law on the Internet, and South Koreans are very good at doing that.’’ 

Not only that, there is some doubt in assigning liablity for infringement. Consider this from an article about the shutdown of Korean P2P service Soribada earlier this year:

The Seoul Central District Court found...Yang Jung-hwan, operator of Soribada, not guilty of aiding and abetting copyright law violations.

So then the swappers are all liable in Korea? Perhaps on paper, consider this article on the prosecution guidelines for swappers:

Internet users who share music files for commercial purposes will be subject to criminal charges [under guidelines set by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office].

 However, Web surfers who download music files for personal purposes and use in a limited area will not be accused.

What is this wiggle of downloading "personal purposes" and "use in a limited area"?

All this gets me to what I really want to comment on today, a move last week by a Korean movie company to file criminal charges against 12 file sharing websites allowing users to swap movies.  One can only wonder how much of the events surrounding music swapping will influence this criminal case since the Soribada case indicates Korean courts will not assign liability to the sharing sites, and if swappers will be a target since the movies are for "personal purposes" and "use in a limited area".


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