Extra! Korea

July 23, 2009

New Anti-Piracy Law; Earnings of Top Songwriters

Filed under: intellectual property, music, technology — extrakorea @ 11:17 pm

A new law meant to crack down on intellectual property piracy went into effect yesterday. So how strict is it?

Your five-year-old daughter mimmicks a popular song at home. She is so cute, so you pick up your camcorder to record her one-minute performance. You upload the clip on your blog to share it with your friends and relatives. This seemingly benign act, however, is in violation of the Korean copyright law. No kidding. Last month, there was an actual incident in which a video clip showing a five-year-old kid singing Son Dam-bi’s “Crazy” – for 58 seconds – was uploaded on a blog run by Naver.com, and the Korea Music Copyright Association asked the country’s biggest portal to block public access to the video clip.

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Under the revised rules, the Culture Ministry can shut down an online community or service in connection with copyright violations, even without a complaint from copyright holders.

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But what ordinary bloggers fear the most is the threat from law firms. A host of Korean law firms are currently representing copyright holders in the fields of music, images, and video, and they often send an email to users, asking them to pay a settlement fee in return for dropping the lawsuit.

In April, a local law firm threatened to file a suit against 8,047 users on the charge of copyright violations, and earned 7 billion won in settlement fees, a tactic that turned out to be illegal.

However, some web-sites can get a kind of “stamp of approval” from the government if they offer copyrighted material but protect it from downloading.

Regulators are rewarding those protecting cultural content. Soribada (www.soribada.com), a music content Web site, became the first online service provider (OSP) to be officially designated a “clean site” by the authorities.

Soribada was chosen for having functions that protected copyrighted content, including a filtering system that blocks the transfer of illegally copied material to other sites.

Once labeled clean, OSPs are able to enjoy a variety of benefits including exemption from governmental monitoring and supervision. But it can maintain its clean status when it passes the re-examination every six months. Visit http://www.cleansite.org for more information.

Despite this, this is expected to increase the exodus of Korean users from Korean sites (such as Naver) to foreign sites (such as YouTube) which began earlier this year. Heck, even the Blue House is doing it.

Since we’re on the topic of intellectual property, how much do Korea’s top songwriters earn?

According to the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) on Monday, Park [Jin-young, also known as JYP] earned W1.078 billion (US$1=W1,249) from copyrights in 2008.

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The top earner was composer Cho Young-soo, who made W1.109 billion. Lyricist Ahn Young-min came in third with W928 million.

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At least 100 composers and lyricists earned over W100 million a year, and the top eight made over W500 million a year. With the growing digital music market led by an increase in sales of karaoke machines and mobile phone ringtones, the income of songwriters has been growing fast.

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Compared to Japan and the United States, what these songwriters are making in Korea is mere 1/10 and 1/100, leading to calls to come down harder on piracy.

1 Comment »

  1. “Compared to Japan and the United States, what these songwriters are making in Korea is mere 1/10 and 1/100, leading to calls to come down harder on piracy.”

    Korean song writers are earning a pretty penny when compare the number of people who listen to Korean music to that who listen to Japanese and American music.

    Comment by Teadrinker — July 27, 2009 @ 10:54 am

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