A Look At How Many People Have Been Kicked Offline In Korea On Accusations (Not Convictions) Of Infringement

from the one-strike dept

With the Hadopi three strikes program in France kicking into full speed, it may be worth jumping halfway around the world to South Korea, which put in place a very strict copyright law last year, that included the ability to kick people offline for accusations (not convictions) of file sharing. It’s worth noting, of course, that the reason South Korea put in place such a draconian copyright law was due to serious diplomatic pressure from the US as a part of a supposed “free trade” agreement between the two countries. It’s also worth pointing out that the trade agreement between South Korea and the US was, according to many, the basis for the initial draft of ACTA (though, obviously, it’s changed a lot since then).

So, now that the law has been in place for over a year, what’s been happening in South Korea? Well, it turns out that people are getting kicked offline for accusations of filing sharing — but worryingly, it appears they’re being kicked off with one strike, not three. Glyn Moody points us to a report on the data behind what’s going on in South Korea.

Now, it’s important to understand the specifics of the law there. There are two ways a user can have his or her account suspended. The first is if the Minister of Culture orders the ISP to suspend the user. However, this can only come after the user has been warned three times (hence: three strikes). However, there’s also a separate way, which is that the Copyright Commission can “recommend” that ISPs warn someone, block or delete materials believed to be infringing or suspend accounts. Deleting or suspending doesn’t require any prior notice or warnings or anything. Basically, the Commission says “we recommend you censor this content and/or suspend this user” and the ISPs then have a choice to make. Guess what they do? That’s right, they obey. Nearly every time. Out of over 65,000 “recommendations” by the Commission, ISPs have only declined to follow the recommendation 40 times — 20 times in sending out warnings and 20 times in deleting content. It’s never declined to follow a recommendation to suspend an account.

Below is the full chart of data concerning the Copyright Committee’s recommendations, and what was done about them:

Hopefully, it’s clear what’s going on. Basically, the Commission has sent out a lot of warnings, and blocked/deleted a ton of content. A total of 31 users have had their accounts suspended — again, with no indication that there was any number of warnings or pre-notice at all. Separately, the blog post in question does note that the other method (the actual three strikes way, involving the Culture Minister) has sent out a much smaller 275 warnings and 41 orders to delete content, but none to suspend accounts.

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Comments on “A Look At How Many People Have Been Kicked Offline In Korea On Accusations (Not Convictions) Of Infringement”

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37 Comments
Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hard to tell. The IFPI reports a 10% growth in music sales in South Korea in 2009.

But this could be due to the launch of a bunch of legal ways to get content. They both happened around the same time (unsurprisingly – I’m betting the “big players” said they wouldn’t enter the S. Korean market until those laws were in place.)

And it could be due to neither of the above. So the jury’s out, really. I’d like to see a more comprehensive study (done by someone other than the IFPI, which has a history of lying).

Of course, even if it did result in more sales, it’s still unjustified because it infringes on basic human rights.

James Carmichael (profile) says:

Useful analogy

Kicking people off the internet because they downloaded illegal content is a little bit like banning someone from the public roads because (s)he drove to a friend’s house to watch an illegal DVD.

And Ima Fish makes a good point; I too seriously doubt that any of this non-sense even began to help reducing piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Useful analogy

And Ima Fish makes a good point; I too seriously doubt that any of this non-sense even began to help reducing piracy.

I believe the opposite would end up happenning. People can still copy files without the Internet, and since they do not have Internet anymore they would have more free time and probably a desire to pirate even more to “get even”. Thus, it would end up increasing piracy, but in a way which is harder to detect.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Useful analogy

And Ima Fish makes a good point; I too seriously doubt that any of this non-sense even began to help reducing piracy.

I believe the opposite would end up happenning. People can still copy files without the Internet, and since they do not have Internet anymore they would have more free time and probably a desire to pirate even more to “get even”. Thus, it would end up increasing piracy, but in a way which is harder to detect.

interval (profile) says:

I agree with the sentiment

But its hard to empathize with a country that doesn’t have a Bill of Rights. Does the S. Korean constitution (or equivalent) have anything like a due process clause? Removal of personal freedoms and ask questions later is often the norm many Asian countries. Some guy got a business that’s beating your own into the ground because he’s simply better at it? Tell your brother-in-law, the Assist. Minister of Trades, that your competition’s son is downloading pirated music. Viola! Your competition’s business no longer has internet access. Seen these tactics hundreds of times in my time overseas.

Will Sizemore (profile) says:

I lived in Korea twice, for 5 years between the two tours, and the latter three years were from late 2005 to late 2008. You can’t go shopping ANYWHERE in Seoul or anywhere near a US Military installation without seeing tents or carts full of pirated DVDs, CDs, software, etc. They don’t even bother to label the DVDs, half the time, and you can see that they copied the original DVD jacket on a bubblejet printer.

Granted, there are PLENTY of reputable places to buy these things, but when you see a cart outside the mall with the largest movie theater in town and all the movies that are still playing in theaters on a DVD you can buy for KW5,000
(something in the neighborhood of $3.50 US at the time) you wonder why you would pay $30 for a couple to see a movie and buy snacks when you can walk 3 blocks to the house and pop it in any DVD player because it just happens to be region free.

Those 31 users were PROBABLY just the really big downloaders, or perhaps anyone who could have been targeted for a political agenda. Strikes happen in several places, almost every weekend. Koreans will rally and strike if a government official’s aide even farts in the wrong direction.

Speaking of Korea and farts, if you’re ever there, don’t accept Room 9. Its a Korean joke. The Korean word for room is “pbang” and 9 is “gu.” There may be variants of the Romanization that opt for p or b rather than both, and sometime k for g, but anyway, when you add those two words together, “pbang-gu,” they mean fart.

My barracks room as a young soldier was room 9 and guess what the KATUSA’s always said about me and my room?

Anonymous Coward says:

The United States threatening to shut down “piracy” websites via COICA, Denmark conspiring against its citizens to implement 3-strikes, France and HADOPI putting into practice the 3-strikes concept, South Korea disconnecting users after a single strike, and a whole bunch of countries secretly negotiating ACTA with potentially disastrous consequences for consumers.

There’s a very disturbing pattern here. Why are so many governments deciding, almost all at once, to screw their citizens in favor of corporate interests? What exactly is going on?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Synchronicity and mimetism

The pressures they are reacting against (the rise of file sharing, open communication, and other side-effects of the rise of the Internet) are the same in all developed countries, so it is to be expected that the same level of reaction will happen at about the same time on all these countries. As for why they take similar strategies, it is both due to convergent evolution (a similar sequence of ineffective ideas and the predictable reactions against them from the other side) and copying (once someone had that silly baseball-based idea and published it, for instance, everyone with the same way of thinking and a similar set of problems would tend to copy it).

Heesob Nam (user link) says:

They were not disconnected by one-strike

I’m the person who wrote the report this article is relied on. The thirty-one individuals were not suspended by one-strike. Actually, the Korea Copyright Commission had sent them prior notices more than three times.

What I meant to say in my blog was to emphasize the difference in the statutory requirements between the suspension made by the order of the Minister and one by the Copyright Commission’s recommendation. No statutory requirement of prior notice for the latter.

Currently, the Copyright Commission has its own bylaw that requires sending prior notices at least three times before recommending suspension. Yet how many to send the prior notice is left to their discretion. They are free to enforce one-strike suspension.

Silicon Valley Is Gonna Burn says:

Dear Mike Masnick,

If these “freeloaders” aren’t going through the proper legal channels to purchase or license music from the copyright holders, why should the “content industries” be expected to go through the proper legal channels to shut them down? This is yet another unequal argument in a long line of copyleft double standards and adolescent ideologies. We will fight fire with fire. This is war…what did you expect? Don’t cry about it every time we push back.

No One Likes A Freeloader

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