For the Hollywood studio members of the MPA, anti-piracy teamwork is nothing new, but for other members of the highly successful Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, collaborating with rival companies is likely to be a relatively new concept. In light of the growing threat posed by online piracy and few better options, it’s clearly one they’re happy to explore.
In March, South Korean broadcasters, including KBS, MBC and JTBC, the Korea Film and Video Copyright Association (film producers and distributors), plus streaming platforms TVING and Wavve, announced the formation of a similar anti-piracy coalition dedicated to protecting local content. Its connections with ACE are likely to prove invaluable.
Noonoo TV in the Crosshairs
Under Video Copyright Protection Council (이하 영보협) branding, the coalition’s immediate target was Noonoo TV, a hugely successful pirate streaming site receiving dozens of millions of visits from Koreans every month. At least in theory, an ISP blocking program should’ve prevented that from happening, but Noonoo’s deployment of dozens of new domains meant the campaign couldn’t keep up.
Surprisingly, Noonoo’s successful circumvention program was eventually self-terminated – along with the site itself – just a few weeks later. In an April announcement, the site’s operator said that the “outrageous” cost of bandwidth and “pressure on the site from all directions” had culminated in a decision to shut Noonoo down. Around April 14, Noonoo said nighty night for the last time and gave one last piece of advice before turning off the lights.
“Please be careful of impersonation sites…”
Left in no doubt that any remaining value in the Noonoo brand would be immediately extracted by opportunists, we began monitoring fresh domain registrations when the site went down. These included noonoo.app, noonootv.live, noonoo2023.xyz and noonootorrent.com in April, a whole bunch ending in .click in May, and then a couple more in early June – noonoo.art and noonoo.lol.
Initially, just one of these domains showed signs of picking up the baton but then noonoo.lol stepped on the gas and surged into the lead.
The site introduced itself as ‘Noonoo TV Season2’ on June 12. It had the same layout, most likely the same or similar content library, but more importantly, the same set of ads that appeared on the original site (screenshot) featuring exactly the same gambling companies.
After just four days online, the site was subjected to a large-scale DDOS attack. That was reportedly handled in 30 mins, but the site still wanted to clear something up.
“Noonoo TV Season 2 has no connection to the original Noonoo TV,” the site announced. A business address in the site’s footer claimed that a company called Digisn Mowanda was now running the site from an office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Whether anyone plans to pay a personal visit anytime soon is unknown, but it might be best to call ahead first, just in case.
Korean Government Not Thrilled By The Resurrection
In an announcement dated June 18, the Ministry of Science and ICT said the appearance of ‘Season 2’ warranted a “strong response.”
“As the damage caused to the domestic online video service (OTT) industry and others due to the [original] illegal free streaming site ‘Noonoo Tv’ grew day by day, last year the Ministry of Science and ICT, together with the domestic online video service industry, ISPs, and the Radio Association of Korea (RAPA), persistently blocked the illegal service by shortening the frequency; such as once a week, twice a week, and once a day, leading to the termination of Noonoo TV’s service in April,” the statement reads.
“The Ministry of Science and ICT plans to actively respond to illegal online video service (OTT) distribution sites such as ‘Noonoo TV Season 2’ based on its experience and capabilities in blocking access to Noonoo TV.”
The Ministry says it has already asked the Korea Communications Commission to expedite its decision on the “illegality and copyright infringement of Noonoo TV Season 2” and once that has been received, enhanced blocking measures will be put in place to disrupt the service.
“During the response [to the original site], we were able to block access once a day, but this time, we will streamline the response system so that we can block multiple times a day,” the Ministry says.
Piracy vs. Artificial Intelligence
Alongside a promise to work closely with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Korea Communications Commission, and the National Security Agency to protect ‘K’ content from unlawful distribution, the Ministry of Science says the time is right to enhance manual work carried out by humans with automated systems better suited to the job.
“Since the detection and response to illegal sites is currently centered on manual work based on human resources, to overcome this limitation, we plan to develop technology that can automatically detect and verify new versions and substitute sites,” the Ministry said.
“Online video service (OTT) content is a precious asset created with the blood and sweat of many people. It’s a growth engine that will be responsible for the future of our country, so it is very important for mature citizens to refrain from using these illegal sites.”
Season 2 Ends Prematurely
Calls for citizens to act responsibly are not unusual in South Korea and in the right circumstances, can be highly effective too. However, on this occasion a national boycott of ‘Season 2’ will not be required after the following announcement (translated from original).
On the Season 2 Telegram channel, the shutdown is yet to be mentioned.