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Revised copyright laws: does it achieve its goal?

 Netizens feel uneasy with the revised copyright laws, which became effective on July 23, because they could be charged with copyright violations of their fan fiction, fan art, drama and entertainment broadcasting capture, criticism, parodies in blogs, mini hompages or cafe.  So, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) issued Q&A about the revised copyright laws in order to clear up any misunderstanding.  Nonetheless concern still remains because of uncertainty of interpretation.  Then, what are the revised copyright laws?

They had been revised on April 22, but were legal delayed for three months. It then took effect on July 23.  The law contains two newly added articles, 133-2 and 133-3.  Article 133-2, protects against illegal reproductions or information which infringes copyrights and other rights protected according to these laws.  Article 133-2 also regulates programs (hereinafter referred to as "illegal reproductions, etc.") which neutralize technological protection measures that are interactively transmitted through information and telecommunication networks.  Moreover, it aims to protect legal reproductions and its authors.  The MCST stated that the revised copyright laws regulate heavy uploaders who interrupt the distribution system by habitually uploading illegal reproductions and board which offer commercial interest.  Article 133-3, explains correction advice offered by Korea Copyright Commission (KCC).

The KCC, which changed its name on July 1st, is an organization which includes both the Korea Software Copyright Committee and old Copyright Commission.  It is composed of 25 members including professors, people in charge of administrative work, lawyers and experts.  Their main responsibility is to investigate the information network of Internet Service Provider (ISP) and to deliberate when they find transmission of illegal reproductions.
Besides, the MCST introduced a new three strikes out regulation. It warns a heavy uploader twice, but halts it a 3rd time.  If so, what is the positive impact of revised copyright laws?

Park Young-gil, a member of the KCC and a professor emeritus in Dongguk University College of Law, said the law can prevent piracy which infringes on another person’s rights.  In fact, this is a goal of the laws.  Anyone can infringe on copyrights because it doesn’t cost any money to do so.  Let’s take the case of record companies.  They release their works as a form of sound source rather than disc.  This sound source can be reproduced easily.  Therefore, some netizens illegally reproduce these sound sources, which damage the incomes of record companies.  This financial loss can interfere with making new works.  As a consequence, it will have a negative effect on cultural development.  By blocking illegal reproduction, an author’s rights can be protected.  Then, creative activity will be promoted, which is linked directly with cultural development.  Then, what is the problem?
 Prof. Park said that the law can be abused for a political purpose.  For example, the MCST encroached on the rights of free expressions by regulating critical of the government postings.  However, he said that the regulation wouldn’t be a big problem because postings must be passed through deliberation.  During the deliberation process, the KCC has to judge whether these postings are pertinent to post or not.

On the other hand, Lim Gyu-chul, a professor in the College of Law, pointed out that the revised copyright laws protect an author a little too much.  There must be a balance between protecting an author and free expression, but there isn’t.  Especially, Prof. Lim said on bulletin boards, that there are many postings on bulletin boards which are border line legal.  The standard of the border line is confusing.  Thus, netizens could be acting illegally because they didn’t know that their postings are illegal. He also said that appointing committee members must be fair.  To protect the rights of authors and users, the KCC should be composed of members who have various knowledge and strong values.  Moreover, when the government gives the ISP legal responsibility, the ISP has no choice but to follow government policy because they come under its control.

As an alternative to this policy, he said the MCST should codify regulation standard ? not inconvenient but illegal reproduction when it charges ISP with legal responsibility.  If this happens, eliminating inconvenient work under government directions will disappear.  To make up for the weak points in the revised copyright laws, both professors said that copyright laws should be taught when students are in elementary school.  Prof. Park said teachers should teach personal rights rather than the value of one’s property.  However, both professors mentioned that people should consider their actions rather than being controlled legally.  They also said that everyone can become both creators and users, recognition to guarantee one’s rights, guarantees other people’s rights as well.
As an internet user, this reporter thinks that protection of an author’s rights by regulating heavy uploaders is necessary.  However, regulating secondary work like fan fiction, fan art, criticism and parodies, should not happen because it could inhibit cultural development.  So, the government couldn’t achieve the goal ? protecting author’s right.

Choi Deok  manasa1147@dongguk.edu

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