An interesting news popped up last week. And a more detailed news here.
A group of 50 U.S. and Japanese pornography producers have filed a lawsuit against South Korean Internet users for illegally uploading their content on the Internet for commercial purposes.
That happens. Nobody would be surprised to know that there are people who upload porns. The number is quite impressive. 50 foreign porn producers sued 10,000 heavy uploaders. 10,000 that is! That is 1 out of 2,000 adult male in Korea. Now it seems a little convincing.
It is reported that they plan to take legal action against about 80 file-sharing web sites for aiding abetting.
A more interesting (from the legal perspective) news follows. I couldn’t find a link to an English news. But Korean news is here.
The police, after receiving the accusal, considered the case (quite seriously because they might have to investigate 1,000 people) and dismissed the case. The reason being, the pornos at issue are not protectible copyrightable matter because they do not have any academic or artistic value and distribution of porno is illegal in Korea.
First, the Copyrgith Act of Korea abolished the requirement of being academic or artistic in order for a work to be copyrightable. When? On December 28, 2006, when the Coyright Act of Korea was totally amended. Article 2(1) (definition) defines “copyrightable work” as a work of creation that expresses human idea or emotion. Before the amendment, the definition has a modifier like “that belongs to literature, academia or art.” After the amendment, a work of creation need not belong to literature, academic or art. The police is wrong.
Second, we saw this argument in the US-China dispute settlement case before the WTO on Enforcement of IPR. One of the interpretation of TRIPS by the Panel is that a work is copyrightable even if it contains illegal contents. The police didn’t know they were wrong at first. But after a couple of days, they figured out that if they didn’t honor the copyright of porns, they might violate duties under international treaties, like the Berne Convention.
We will see as the case unfolds.