North Korean Study Confirms It: People Will Share, Whatever The Risks

from the fact-of-life dept

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the ever-increasing storage capacity of portable hard drives made it unlikely that the sharing of music could ever be stopped. That was a somewhat theoretical piece based on general trends in technology; but here's some supporting data from a rather unusual source: North Korea (aka the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" - DPRK).

It comes in the form of an extensive study entitled "A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment" (pdf). It's long but really worth reading for the insights it gives into a world that has been almost entirely hidden from the West for half a century. Rather surprisingly, it shows the impact that the physical sharing of pirated materials from South Korea and elsewhere is having on the once isolated nation. As TorrentFreak puts it:

With Internet unavailable to all but a tiny percentage of the elite, citizens of North Korea are obtaining their information through other means, notably file-sharing devices such as DVDs, MP3 and MP4 players, and USB drives.
The vast majority of those music and video players are owned by young people:
"About 70-80 percent of people that have MP3/4 players are young people," a 44-year-old male who left DPRK in 2010 reports. "When you do a crackdown of MP3/4 players among high school and university students, you see that 100 percent of them have South Korean music."
That's significant because the penalties for anyone caught with forbidden music and videos are severe: months or even years in a North Korean prison camp. TorrentFreak makes the obvious connection:
despite the massive risks, young people in the DPRK are apparently prepared to defy the regime by consuming unauthorized media anyway, something they have in common with the US youth who share files in the face of $150,000 statutory damages.
That explains why the copyright industries' current approach to enforcement isn't working, and -- more importantly -- why it will never work, no matter how harsh the penalties become. Whatever the risks, people will carry on sharing.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Josh (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Next they'll try giving pirates the death penalty. And inadvertently solve the overpopulation problem.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    or the dying problem.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:21am

    Deterrent effects

    I believe I read at some point that deterrent effects are more related to likelihood of being caught than severity of punishment. Here we go:
    http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2578032

     

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  4.  
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    Joseph Antaree, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:25am

    93 year old man pirates videos, sends them to military personnel

     

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  5.  
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    Wally (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:26am

    Generation wars

    Understanding technology is only the beginning of things to come. It's very difficult to explain the advancements of technology to baby boomers now a days. The Presiddent of the RIAA once Stated "CD's are not digital", and it goes to show you how behind they are.

    North Korea's story is interesting to me because on one side, you have the younger generation taking risks, while the elders, who are a part of the regime, didn't even have a translatable word from English meaning "Computer". Computers were not in the North Korean Dialect for many years. If there was going to be a modern day "Russian Bulchivck Revolt", North Korea is where it's going to happen.

     

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  6.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:28am

    faith in humanity restored

    This is why my faith has been restored in people. Until I saw how ordinary people were willing to put themselves at risk to share, I was a misanthrope. Now I think people are pretty cool.

     

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  7.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:34am

    Re: Generation wars

    CDs aren't digital, they're physical objects with digital data stored on them. That could be what he meant (although I'm not sure of context).

     

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  8.  
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    A Late Boomer Who Gets It And Has All Along, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:37am

    FTFY

    It's very difficult to explain the advancements of technology to baby boomers

    I believe you meant to say:

    It's very difficult to explain the advancements of technology to most baby boomers

    Regards,
    -Gramps with the 10 TB Collection

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:38am

    I'd guess that like the US, the risk of consequences is almost nil. And unlike the the US, there are few- if any legitimate sources of music.

     

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  10.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    Re: Deterrent effects

    Basically, harsh punishments are only a deterrent if you think you're likely to get caught. It sounds like North Korean youth behavior is consistent with behavioral studies performed elsewhere.

     

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  11.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:45am

    How long until it reads

    The penalties for anyone caught with forbidden music and videos are severe: months or even years in a US prison camp.

     

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  12.  
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    MrWilson, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    Re: 93 year old man pirates videos, sends them to military personnel

     

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  13.  
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    MrWilson, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: How long until it reads

    I suppose we can ask Richard O'Dwyer in a year.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Howard, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:55am

    No no NO! You, Pirate Mike, and the rest of the freetard pirates have come to the exact WRONG conclusion.

    Clearly this means North Korea is even worse off than China. These are pirates with no fear. If these young techno-wizards can pirate music when they don't even have an Internet connection, then imagine the IP theft these people will commit if they ever have an Internet connection! They'll make the already overwhelming, government-directed hacking from China look like a drop in the bucket (which is, incidentally, all our American innovators and artists have left).

    The message this report sends is too obvious to overlook - our American industries are not just in need of drastically tighter cybersecurity, but rather overarching cyberinstitutions that can cyberdefend our cyberinformation from cyberinfiltration from cyberterrorists.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:56am

    Re: FTFY

    This, ever so hard. My parents are in their 60's, divorced since I was 2. Here's the technological tracks they have taken:

    Dad: Got his first computer when I was in high school for work, has over the years asked me to show him how to do a number of things, had me build/help him pick out new computers here and there, and generally never asked the same question twice. Will never be a pro, but certainly knows his way around enough to communicate, shop, research, and share anything he wants. Has high-speed internet at home, a smart phone, and is happy with it all.

    Mom: Her recent breakthrough is she stopped breaking out in a cold sweat every time she was sat in front of a computer. She was dragged kicking and screaming into using one about 10 years ago at work and after numerous years, can proudly proclaim that she can get in and out of the screens she needs. If she gets lost, she closes everything and starts over. She has never and will never own a computer (or anything like a smart phone which is really a computer). She has a hand-written list of instructions on how to use the DVD player, which she does maybe once every couple of years (proven by the levels of dust on the instructions every time I see them).



    A lot of old people (and young, projecting on old) like to blame age on an inability to pick up new things. That's BS, that's called laziness, not age. If you keep an open mind and enjoy learning, you'll keep learning, it's that simple.

    It's the same idiocy that leads to every generation thinking the next generation's music is awful and theirs was amazing. No, your music wasn't that good. No, this music isn't that bad. It's just different and if you were open-minded, over a sufficiently long period of time (10 years or so, to avoid times where yea, sometimes music just sucks for a while), you will find the same amount of good new music as old.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:57am

    Re:

    "I'd guess that like the US, the risk of consequences is almost nil."

    Right. Let's compare:

    US:

    1. Be sued for copyright infringement
    2. Go to court. Present your case. Probably get convicted (depends on evidence)
    3. Pay a fine
    4. Carry on with life

    North Korea:

    1. Get fingered by government-controlled "police" force for copyright infringement
    2. Get summary judgement by local official
    3. Most likely get tossed to prison camp (depends on official's mood, not on hard evidence)
    4. Eventually exit prison camp, if not killed along the way (by guards, other inmates, dysentery...)

    Yeah, you're right. It's about the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Re: FTFY

    I believe he actually meant to say:

    It's very difficult to explain the advancements of technology to those with vested interests in the old way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re:

    Great analysis. Now how about adding the number of individual infringers in the US and number of actual infringements and coming up with a percentage? Then a similar comparison for N. Korea.

     

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  19.  
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    rubberpants, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    There's no possible way to get that information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: FTFY

    I'm a baby boomer.I bought my first computer in 1981.Was online with a 300 baud modem in 1982. Bought my first laptop and pocket computer in 1986 and have continued to evolve with computers every since.
    When I told my dad about computers he had a blank stare and just couldn't comprehend it. He was a carpenter and far from lazy.But if I wanted to talk about what he knew about carpentry he would light up!
    Are kids lazy because they don't have an interest in math in high school? Or science?
    I'm a Senior and don't have an interest in learning quantum mechanics.Guess I'm lazy...
    If people are interested in something they will learn it.
    Some people are just to stupid to learn about human nature before calling everyone lazy.

     

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  21.  
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    Hak Foo (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:45pm

    This is clearly a market failure. I can see it in action. How much North Korean music is on the "legitimate" services (iTunes/Amazon), so of course they have to resort to pirating the next best thing.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    wallow-T, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Those North Korean kids have no respect for the law, dang it!! They're stealing from the South Korean musicians!!!

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re:

    ...or the getting caught problem...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    ASTROBOI, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:42pm

    Re: How long until it reads

    The article stated that when there was a crackdown of mp3 players forbidden music was found on 100% of them. So did the cops send the entire student body to prison camps? I don't doubt that the NKs would be that stricts but somehow it doesn't seem like they would go that route. They need the kids to become future soldiers and workers. My guess is that the kids are punished but not by years of incarceration. NK is such a crappy country that we tend to believe any story about their government being cruel regardless how unlikely it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Wally (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: FTFY

    Ok, you've kept up with technology. That's great. The point was meant mostly toward North Korea, where the baby boomers there don't have the word "Computer" translated from English in their own dialect.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:44pm

    Re: faith in humanity restored

    Yeah, I operate on the assumption that 85-90% of humanity are basically moral people, with a sense of fairness and some conception of enlightened self-interest/self-sacrifice for the greater good.

    Sure, people don't always agree about exactly where the lines are, and I've never met anyone who hasn't tried to game some system (usually because they feel that it's unfair, like laws against drug use). But if I thought that the majority were self-centred assholes who were always out for #1, I don't think I'd be able to get out of bed in the mornings, let alone hold down a job...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    drew (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: How long until it reads

    Need to read again Astroboi, it says 100% of them had south korean music on.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    ASTROBOI, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: How long until it reads

    But isn't South Korean music forbidden in North Korea?

     

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  29.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    Goes a little farther than that: for most in N. Korea, it's not a lack of legitimate internet options, but a lack of internet, period. So basically, smuggling in the stuff via thumbdrives and similar devices is the only way they can get access to it.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    85% of all statistics are made up... I don't see why you can't follow suit

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    mm777 (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 3:26pm

    as someone who livedina time of running down hallways of major university or companies carrying floppies. this is also called sneaker-net.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 5:24pm

    Re:

    We're going to have to make technology illegal

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Re:

    or the 'north korea' problem.

    i seem to recall a similar imbalance of punishments leading to revolt in other times and places.

    if the punishment for revolt is death, and the punishment for being late is death, and you're already late... nothing to lose by revolting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: FTFY

    probably dubious to call them 'baby boomers' too, as i doubt the reason for that name applies there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re:

    none of which addresses the Risk of being Caught, only the consequences if you Are.

    further, while the N.Korea situation is more extream, in either case, the consequences if you are caught are rather radically out of line with the actions they're meant to punish.

    and your 3 for the US is often irrelevant and 4 plain wrong, as the legal system itself will pretty much wreck most people if they're dragged into it.

    there's actually something to be said for a legal system where the other guy can't win by simply Outlasting you. (though this assumes reasonable laws, competent enforcement, and fair judges... nice ideas, but the thought that such a circumstance is even vaguely likely to come about, let alone remain so, is pretty much laughable.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Chargone (profile), Jun 6th, 2012 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re:

    the success of which says something interesting about all those corporations flipping out about the internet itself, really.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    DFG, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 7:01pm

    It's astonishing that countries will punish generations, or will imply a desire to punish them by making a law criminalizing their typical behavior.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 7:32pm

    Re:

    I think they're facing "underpopulation" problem.

    Haven't you heard the news that they can't find enough young people to be soldiers, so they have to lower the bar of height for army applicants.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 7:44pm

    Re: faith in humanity restored

    People is a pretty cool guy, he shares and doesn't afrietd of anything

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 12:47am

    Re:

    Right, by law of thier government they should be out there shooting these artists!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    drew (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How long until it reads

    Doh! Sorry, my reading failure not yours, I misread your comment.
    As you were and back to school for me...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 2:43am

    Re: Re: Generation wars

    And computers are physical objects that contain digital data. Does that mean that computers are not digital?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    A Dan (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Generation wars

    Yes. You need a very good 3D printer or a collection of parts to copy a computer. You don't need that for an MP3, or an eBook, or software, which are all digital.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    A North Korea study also shows that building nuclear weapons and rockets that don't work, while starving your people is a good political move.

    NEXT!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    just supposing, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 8:16am

    longing for the good old days

    That explains why the copyright industries' current approach to enforcement isn't working, and -- more importantly -- why it will never work, no matter how harsh the penalties become. Whatever the risks, people will carry on sharing.

    Maybe those who have nothing to lose will be willing to risk it all, but what of those who have families, resposibilities.. are we to fall apart at the seams as a nation over file sharing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re:

    Maybe they have a lack of suitable candidates because they already sent a huge number of young men and women to the copyright concentration camps?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Wally (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 10:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Generation wars

    Ok, here is the last end to this debate.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    Wally (profile), Jun 7th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Generation wars

    Ok, here is the last end to this debate.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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