Crazy Copyright Law Set to Cause Chaos in S.Korea

Netizens of South Korea could find themselves at the mercy of a copyright infringement firestorm today, as a tough new copyright law takes effect. A prominent social networking site is sending warnings to its customers about their behavior, noting that far reaching penalties include 6 month Internet disconnections.

Reports of countries mulling the possibility of 3 strikes for online pirates is nothing new and if those reports are to be believed, it might or might not be implemented in dozens of countries in the future.

There is no such doubt in South Korea. Today, tough new anti-piracy legislation takes effect which targets illicit file-sharers in a particularly aggressive way. The scheme, hatched by the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, gives authorities the power to disconnect pirates for up to 6 months.

However, 3 Strikes for file-sharers is just a small part of the issue.

Although the government insists the rules are targeted at large scale infringers, thanks to a lack of clear boundaries in the legislation – which simply refers to “copyrighted content” – South Korea has extended the 3 Strikes concept to pretty much everyone adding content to the Internet.

According to SKC, the operator of social networking site Cyworld and web portal Nate, any South Korean running a blog or a social networking page will have to be very careful indeed.

In recent days the company has been alerting its users to the new law, notifying them that not only is the sharing of copyright songs, movies and TV shows illegal, but also the use of any copyrighted images or videos. Any of these could earn the infringer a strike.

Any ‘YouTube’-style homemade videos that contain copyrighted music in the background are also banned and will also get you a strike.

And song lyrics. And excerpts from books.

We shall know shortly if the copyright industries behave responsibly with their new found power or if they choose to use it as a weapon of mass disconnection. Either way, South Korea’s enviable broadband position is hardly likely to benefit from the legislation.

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