Korean online music operator guilty of violating copyright laws

March 2005

Record Labels, Music Publishers, Internet

A Seoul criminal court has found the operator of an Internet music site guilty of violating copyright laws. Park Sung-hun, chief executive officer of Bugs Co., the country’s most popular online music site, was given a sentence of 18 months in prison with a three-year suspension, and his company was fined 20 million won (US$19,460). Park distributed tens of thousands of music files on the Internet without permission from (musicians and recording companies). Seoul Central District Court judge Lee Han-sup suspended his prison sentence in light of the fact that Park can potentially solve the dispute with the recording companies that filed the lawsuit. The court said Bugs’ free music service violated “copyright neighboring rights,” the right to distribute copyrighted materials owned by musicians and recording companies to the public. The court ruling was another blow to the online music service industry. In January two developers of the free online music file-sharing site Soribada were ordered to pay 19 million won in compensation to the Korea Music Copyright Association, an umbrella organization of recording companies and musicians. The court blamed the online operators for “overlooking” free file sharing between Internet users. Korean has a high penetration of internet access and 70 percent of the 36 million population can log onto the Internet. Unauthorized downloading has become so common that conventional music distribution through CDs or cassette tapes has sharply dropped. At the same time as the Bugs case, two other Internet site operators were also found guilty of violating copyright laws. The operators of music site AD200 Co. and of Cybertalk Co., an Internet general service provider, were given suspended prison sentences.

Source: Yonap News

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