These days, getting a movie is only a few clicks away. By using p2p sites, web hard and torrent sites, you can get all-new movies without breaking a sweat. This is the act of media piracy. It is becoming too general that people barely even recognize that it’s illegal. However, the careless clicks and downloads are destroying the movie industry along with many other media industries. In order to stop the media theft, a campaign called “Good-Downloader Campaign” started. ST features this campaign and the seriousness of illegal downloading.
What Do You Know About Illegal Downloading?
Have you heard of the movie Frozen from Disney? It was released earlier this year, in January. Its picturesque images and OSTs made this movie famous even before its release, and the movie
caught the public’s attention at once. After the movie’s release, it set a fine box office record, attracting 3 million audiences in just a few days. By the way, do you also know that Frozen suffered from great material damage because of early leakage of its film? As the loss was fatal, Disney decided to sue the person who spread the film for the first time, along with the uploaders and downloaders. Dreamworks’ movie Guardians, which was released in South Korea in 2012, also experienced the same problem. The illegally copied version of the film was leaked so early that the movie had to draw down the curtain much earlier than expected. After Guardians ended in failure, Dreamworks carried out a large reconstruction, during which 350 employees were fired. What’s worse is that these problems are true not only in the case of films from abroad.
Architecture 101, a South Korean movie that was released in 2012, was looking forward to attracting 4 million viewers. The copied version, however, was leaked thorough an illegal website, and it spread so quickly. Its total damage was estimated to be 7 billion won. In connection with the leakage, 12 people, including the first leaker, were discharged from the company that produced the film. After many lawsuits for claiming damages, alas, in September 2013, the reconciliation between the production company and 12 people was dramatically accepted to close the case. The representative of Myung Films, the company that produced Architecture 101, commented, “We tried to warn the society about the need for copyrights and for compensation for the creators’ hard work. As we bring this case to an end, we expect an improvement in the social awareness of the need to protect copyrights.”
As these cases imply, now, illegal download should not be just passed over. According to Copyright Protection Center’s annual reports, the rate of online illegal downloading has jumped from 571 billion won in 2006 to 1 trillion won in 2008. The rate of the infringement on legal works has also increased each year. Since after 2008, the offline markets have shifted to cheaper online markets, slightly decreasing the cost damage, but the quantitative damage has increased year by year. What’s more, in 2012, roughly 13 million people aged 13-69 claimed that they had engaged in illegal downloading at least once. This number should not be ignored, but how are we going to root out illegal downloading?
All About "Good-Downloader Campaign"
Have you ever seen this cute logo? This smiling yellow character is the logo of “Good-Downloader Campaign.” Good-Downloader Campaign is a major campaign that South Korea’s movie industry is promoting. This smiling logo has a lot of meanings. The arrow-shaped face symbolizes downloading, and the green bowtie means following the right downloading manners. Good-Downloader Campaign is working hard even at this very moment to stamp out illegal downloading, which does not respect the work of creators and bruises the motion picture industry. A “good downloader” is one who pays the right amount of money for downloading a work, and who does so in a legal way, to respect and protect the hard work of many creators. We call those who enjoy movie through fair downloading “good downloaders.”
How Did "Good-Downloader Campaign" Begin?
Let’s take a closer look at Good-Downloader Campaign. The leakage of movie films marked the start of this campaign. The movies like The Good, the Bad, the Weird, Haeundae, and Detective K were illegally leaked while they were being screened. For the last 10 years, illegal uploading and downloading have wrought a huge damage to South Korea’s movie industry.
In most developed countries, the profits from the movie-related businesses account for 50% of the movie industry’s profits (the other 50% is from the theaters’ ticket sales). In South Korea, however, some 88% of the profits come from running movies.
This means that South Korea’s movie industry possesses a very one-sided structure in gaining profits. That is to say, indiscreet illegal downloading and the circulation of illegally downloaded movies are destroying the whole movie industry, aside from triggering a lot of side effects in the society. Furthermore, illegal downloading hinders the South Korean movies’ overseas expansion, which requires so much money to succeed. Good-Downloader Campaign aims to protect and recognize people’s works. It is time to be a “good downloader” and also to volunteer for the campaign.
Being a Good Downloader
What, then, does it take to be a good downloader with manners? Worry not; here is the “Good-Downloader Pledge” from “Good-Downloader Campaign”:
First, I will watch the movie while it’s being screened at the movie theater. Second, I will pay fairly for the copyrights of online contents, from sites that abide by this Good-Downloader Pledge. It is definitely illegal to download movies from Webhard or from P2P sites, paying only 100-300 won depending on the movie file’s volume. It’s like paying only for the shipment and not for the item that you bought. This does not grant compensation to the copyright holder but only to the site owner and illegal uploaders. A movie content that the copyright holder had agreed to offer costs a minimum of 500-3,500 won. Do not forget this! Third, I will not upload files illegally on the Internet if I do not hold the credit for them. Fourth, I will use platforms that abide by the Good-Downloader Pledge for watching films that I could not see during their screening.
The sites and platforms that abide by the Good-Downloader Pledge are as follows: GomTV, Naver, Daum, MAXMOVIE, Bugs, Cine21, INDIEPLUG, YES24, Hoppin, IPTV, etc.
As you can see, Good-Downloader Campaign is a campaign that does more than preventing illegal downloading and allows one to enjoy media contents in a more suitable manner through ethical download behavior. It’s not that hard, is it?
The Future of South Korea's Movie Industry
Until the mid-2000s, South Korea’s movie industry had been increasing steadily. South Korea’s movie industry achieved the most spectacular result in terms of the average movie watching and making, and in terms of the amount of money earned by exporting movies abroad. Such period was called the “Second Renaissance of South Korea’s Movie Industry.” However, the industry also witnessed the rapid growth of the illegal-content market, which now threatens South Korea’s movie industry. Sharing illegal contents through Webhard, P2P (peer-to-peer) sites, and Torrent accelerates the destruction of the movie industry. The consequent damage was very big, reaching the total damage cost of 556 billion won in 2009. Not just the movie industry but also the music, publishing, broadcast, and game industries had been badly harmed. The whole cost of the damage is estimated to be a whopping 4 trillion won.
Thankfully, 53 million people currently signed up for Good-Downloader Campaign, willing to work to save South Korea’s movie industry. With support from a lot of people, the illegal downloaders greatly decreased in number. The danger of illegal downloading, however, still exists everywhere. The root of the illegal downloading and leakage of movie files is as deep as it had been in the past. Why can’t people get their hands off from illegal downloading?
Interviewee: Lee Moon-young (French Education, 13, Sangmyung University)
ST: Why do engage in illegal downloading when you’re capable of downloading movies legally?
LEE: When downloading movies legally, I have to install all the security programs and enter all kinds of codes, including my credit card numbers. That really annoys me. In my opinion, it would be much faster to search for and download a movie through the Internet illegally.
ST: How much do you know about Good-Downloader Campaign?
LEE: I heard that Good-Downloader Campaign is a current progressive campaign that tries to save South Korea’s movie industry. Its objective is to provide better service to the consumers so as to create a virtuous circle, and legal downloading is the first step for that. Of course, I’m aware that downloading movies thoughtlessly from the Internet is illegal.
ST: What is the biggest reason for illegal downloading?
LEE: I think the annoying requirements and process of downloading movies legally as well as its onerousness and high cost is what makes people download movies illegally. Also, people do not mind sparing money for coffee and food, but they do not feel good about having to spend money on movies or cultural things. I’m one of those people, and I therefore resort to illegal downloading.
ST: What do you think about putting an end to illegal downloading?
LEE: I think that carrying out more campaigns like Good-Downloader Campaign is the first step. When I went to the theater, I saw campaigns like that, but I have never seen any TV or magazine featuring it. More exposure on CF can motivate people to volunteer for the campaign, and that can make more and more people participate in the campaign. Another way is to provide incentives for legal movie downloading, like giving a 50% discount on movie tickets after downloading a movie legally five times.
According to the interview, the biggest reason that people prefer illegal downloading to fair downloading was the price. Compared to illegal downloading, most of which cost none or 300 won at maximum, fair downloading prices average 5000 won. As the Interviewee mentioned above, Koreans don’t mind spending money for a nice meal or a cup of coffee. However, they are unwilling to spend such a price doing cultural things, like going to the movies or operas. In that case, it would be nice if they give up going to the movies, reluctant to spend so much money. Unfortunately, people possess an ironic idea of wanting to enjoy films while they do not wish to open their wallet. And with the help of an amazing Internet environment, Korea has become a playground for illegal downloading.
Considering the price, it’s quite understandable that people can’t take their hands off from illegal downloading. Students, in particular, are bound to look for illegal downloading since their allowance is relatively small. They just can’t afford to go to the movies. But people are too deeply engaged in the aspect of cheap price to recognize another very important value. Before downloading illegally, they must realize the importance of copyrights.
Copyright is a respectful right that allows the author to sew up his work or to share it with other people. Copyright makes it possible for the author to monopolize his work, including films and literary works, to ban others from discreetly using them without the author’s permission. If copyrights are not respected, it is impossible for the authors to take full credit of their work. If others illegally take advantage of a creator’s work, copying and pirating, the creator is bound to suffer great damage, materially and mentally. This is also wrong in an aspect of ethics. People who plagiarize or copy others’ work are just like stealing their work. They are nobody but thieves. That’s why copyright law was first introduced, to stop such plagiarizing. Copyright law was legislated to protect the rights of an author and promote a fair usage of numerous art works, contributing to a development of cultural industry. In accordance with the copyright and its protecting law, a single act of downloading can be punished for being a provider of illegal files.
Last year, there was a case where Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism prosecuted several people for circulating illegal contents. The suspects used a Torrent program, which is a p2p file
sending protocol, to distribute numerous movies. 12 people were arrested for operating sites that circulated such files, along with 41 uploaders who distributed illegal seed files more than 1,000 times. They were all sent to the public prosecutor’s office for violating the copyright law. As a result of the investigation, 10 torrent sites had 3.7 million members and 2.3 million illegal seed files which were downloaded more than 715 million times. In addition, according to the Copyright Protection Center’s report, the total damage rounded up 866 billion won. Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism entreated people to be more secure since one can be punished just for downloading an illegal file from the Internet, for it can be spread to another user. The ministry also commented that they will continuously regulate such torrent sites to prevent the circulation of illegal works, as well as coming up with an effective counterplan for copyright violation through SNS. They look forward to creating an environment where creative works can be enjoyed in a fair way.
Meanwhile, a paradigm of copyright is changing rapidly as time goes by. Contents are now often preserved in cloud computing system services, and the amount of contents provided increased exponentially. The contents are piling up into big data. What’s more, techniques for violating copyrights are also becoming more intelligent. There was a discussion recently related to this matter. The discussion was held in a meeting hosted by the Copyright Protection Center. Let’s take a look at the experts’ opinions about this issue.
Lee Gyoo-ho (Professor of Chung-ang Univ.)
The reason why there are many copyrightrelated problems in smart cloud service environment is the weak preventive measures. As technology became more advanced, the accumulated issues regarding copyrights are now exploding out.
Kim Jong-won (Professor of Sang-myung Univ.)
In a digitalized environment, technology requires clarity. This holds the same for copyrights. But copyright law is not very clear, which causes trouble when it is applied to the current environment.
Lee Gil-hang (Manager of ETRI* )
It is clear that the current situation is perfect for illegal contents to show up. Moreover, the matter of responsibility is obscure. Especially for cloud services, there are various companies providing them. If copyright is violated in such an environment, it isn’t clear who is responsible for the problem. *ETRI : Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute
To protect copyrights in this smart environment, it is most important to react quickly. Also, legal content providers must be wellprotected while illegal ones are strictly handled to create a fair copyright system.
Cho Hyun-rae (Section chief of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)
Users must be easily accessible to cheap contents. That is to say, it should be the case where users don’t need to look for illegal files. It is necessary to find an appropriate price model for users.
Consequently, it is not only important for people to realize the need of copyrights, but also the society must recognize the value of copyrights. Moreover, what’s mostly needed right now is the change in the current copyrights system. It must be shifted along with time, keeping pace with the technology. We ourselves must try to be a Good-Downloader, but the society also needs to try to be a Good-Society, which is able to protect all the creative works’ copyrights fairly while providing reasonable contents to the people. Now, are you a Good-Downloader? If not, that’s fine. It can’t be said that it’s absolutely wrong and faulty. Anyway, the society takes some responsibility as well. The magic question is this: Are you willing to be a Good-Downloader?