The South Korean government will announce a tentatively called “joint countermeasure for overseas websites distributing pirated content” in the middle of this month.
The South Korean government will start the development of technology that blocks illegal reproduction and distribution websites, like “The Night of the Rabbit” which distributes contents, including webtoon, with having servers in a foreign country. It is planning to dramatically reduce damages caused by the infringement of digital contents copyrights worth 1 trillion won (US$934.58 million) a year.
According to government officials on April 8, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Communications Commission will announce a tentatively called “joint countermeasure for overseas websites distributing pirated content” in the middle of this month. The ministries will begin the development of illegal foreign website blocking technology in May.
The government has been continuously blocking illegal content providers that have servers abroad and infringed the copyrights on webtoon and movie, but has failed to root out them. Currently, the government simply blocks specific URLs so it is impossible to block illegal websites when they change the patch to other URLs and use an alt-route. Recently, many illegal websites use the hypertext transfer protocol over secure socket layer (HTTPS) which integrates hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) with cryptographic technology so it is hard to block them, according to experts. In fact, the Korea Copyright Protection Agency (KCPA) asked the Korea Communications Standards Commission to block the access of 72 illegal websites last year but 31 of them avoided the curbs in this manner. The Night of the Rabbit also continuously provides the service of about 1,500 illegal copies of South Korean webtoon series using this technology despite the government’s restrictions.
Accordingly, the government has decided to develop the technology that can fundamentally block these websites instead of the current URL blocking technology.
These illegal content providers are doing serious damage to the domestic digital content industry. Pirated contents are shaking the foundations of the digital content industry, especially webtoon which is frequently used by consumers. According to the KCPA, the amount of damages caused by the infringement of digital contents copyrights increased from 1.07 trillion won (US$1 billion) in 2015 to 1.2 trillion won (US$1.12 billion) in 2017. According to a report from Webtoon Guide, a webtoon statistician and analyst, the damages in the webtoon market alone reached 1.26 trillion won (US$1.18 billion) last year.
An official from the webtoon industry said, “Pirate websites steal new series of webtoon that were carefully crafted by creators in two hours but private companies have limits to respond to them. So, we are hoping that the government attacks pirate websites even by hiring legitimate hackers. In particular, it is urgent to come up with technical and political measures to block pirate sites that infringe the copyrights with having servers in a foreign country and bypassing the domestic law.”