Thursday, August 16, 2007

Trying to teach an old dog

One of the commerce associations,  union as the article refers to them, representing a segment of merchants at the Yongsan Electronics Market maze of shops has urged their members to end counterfeiting software. The move, sponsored by some major domestic and foreign software makers, is made to recognize the "the rising importance of intellectual property rights due to Korea's free trade agreement with the United States." according to the firm.

It bothers me the "blame the foreigner" argument is given as a reason. Not the effort, but also note the article blames China for the counterfeits in the first place (as if Koreans would sell copies, but never make them!). This is a bit of a tangent, but consider that fakes slaughtered Hansoft, once the dominating leader in word processing in Korea. Solving the problem benefits more than the foreigners Korea tends to knee-jerk react to, its dismaying that the commerce association has not figured this out given Korean company participation in this program as well.

Then again, consider the actual substantive measure being taken by the association:

The co-op released a statement asking the 7,000-some vendors in Yongsan to voluntarily participate in the campaign, which they defined as of having an "enlightening" purpose. Until Sept. 30, the union will set up a "clean center" where consumers can come and check if their software products are legal. The association will exchange unlicensed software products for authentic items and the vendor who sold the bad item must be educated and pay the price of the real software.

Wow a "clean center" for a little over a month! Begs the question of course what happens after that month. One laughable thing is the idea that consumers are unsure if they bought legit software. You know when it comes on a CD with "MS OFFICE" written by a sharpie, in a cheap case, and a photocopied label at a price of US$20 it's somewhat obvious. The vendor knows what he is selling, and the consumer knows what they are buying. So I am unsure what "clean center" would accomplish at Yongsan other then pointing out the gullible. The biggest hollower however is the "voluntary" participation in the program. What are the chances for a stall knowingly selling fake software will enter the program?

A larger question is what will the "clean center" do for all the other piracy going on in Yongsan. Fake DVD movies are as prevent as mosquitos during Korean summers. If you buy a game console in Yongsan, you almost have to specifically state you do want it "mod chipped" so as to play fake games. Things like peripherals, MP3 players, accessories, and cabling  that either resemble or outright counterfeit original products are pretty common as well. Story does not say what will happen with ilk like this.