South Korea Wants To Allow Its Copyright Protection Agency To Block Sites Allegedly Holding Infringing Material -- No Judicial Review Required

from the Chinafication-of-the-Internet dept

These are dark days for freedom on the Internet. As Cory Doctorow wrote in a recent post on Boing Boing: "We are witnessing the realtime, high-speed Chinafication of the western internet." Country after country is adopting laws that undermine freedom of speech, usually in the name of "enforcing" copyright, which is apparently more important. Add South Korea to that list of shame. The government there is proposing to give its existing Copyright Protection Agency the power to cut off access to Web sites that it says have infringing material. A new campaign, "Stop Internet Censoring", has been launched to fight the plans:

The censoring proposal is a move to strengthen the Korean three-strikes-out rule and implement the "website shutting down" obligation under the US-Korea FTA. Governmental measures to block, without any prior judicial scrutiny, access to foreign websites that host illegal information is not new. For several years from 1990s, the communication authorities have blocked and filtered contents deemed illegal and violating social norms, including those violating others' copyright. But the proposed bill is new in that the copyright protection agency holds a power to block website access.

The campaign notes that the idea of giving South Korea's Copyright Protection Agency this new power is fundamentally flawed. Blocking would be handled by a body whose mandate is biased in favor of the interests of copyright industries, rather than on striking a balance between protection and dissemination of works under copyright. Moreover, the new blocking measure would not be limited to Web sites hosting allegedly infringing materials:

It also covers any information that can infringe any right protected under the Copyright Act, which may include hyperlink and search result. It further includes computer programs or information that may help circumvention of technological protection measures (TPMs).

The bill is currently waiting for the approval of South Korean government's Legislation and Judiciary Committee, the final hurdle before a final vote in the country's parliament. The campaign urges people to contact the committee members, and provides links to their social media accounts as a way of doing that.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter, Diaspora, or Mastodon.

Filed Under: copyright, site blocking, south korea


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2019 @ 11:52am

    As a significant contributor[*] of public-domain and/or authorized content to several culturally-important archive sites, I'm more aware than most people of the problems caused by the copyright gestapo. I have seen real copyright thieves. They claim copyright on works that they did not produce. They accuse honest law-abiding people of "piracy" (by which, they mean infringement of their often falsely-claimed property.) They automatically generate HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of false accusations of infringement every DAY. And now, just three of those false accusations can shut down any website from being viewed in Korea. If those false accusations were evenly distributed over all websites at that rate, the copyright thieves could shut down every website on the internet in approximately 6-12 months.

    Korea's agency will do nothing to prevent any of those kinds of copyright theft. But it'll do everything to empower these copyright thieves to make it more difficult and expensive for free people to lawfully exchange free information.

    Now, I am not and never will be a fan of the Grateful Dead, and am willing to believe that any Grateful Dead concert would be illegal by any reasonable "public nuisance" law. But no sane person would confuse public nuisance with terrorism. No matter: no "copyright enforcement" agency has EVER been accused of sanity, and so the internet archive, which also contains such socially-unacceptable content as my father's dissertation (an analysis of stress-cracks in metal plates), will probably be blocked in Korea almost as quickly as in France.


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