Bugs Music, Koreas biggest online music service provider, has taken the upper hand in the initial stage of what is expected to be a long legal battle with prosecutors who are trying to draw a clear line on the copyright dispute between Internet music providers and the music industry. The Seoul District Court yesterday turned down a prosecution request for an arrest warrant for Park Sung-hoon, who heads the music provider. The Court said that as `his residence is fixed and there is no concern he will destroy evidence’ no warrant would be granted. Park was charged with copyright infringements as his online company provided music streaming services to more than 14 million members. Prosecuters will continue to investigate Bugs to determine future charges of copyright infringement.
The lawsuit, which would serve as the conclusion of ongoing disputes surrounding Koreas online music service providers, was first brought up by a joint plaintiff of 25 local music labels and five distributors of foreign labels in February asking the court to shut down the online music site on charges of infringement of reproduction rights. Bugs Music has admitted that they are partly at fault. However, they are arguing that their case is different from the Soribada site, a Napster-like South Korean web site, which allowed its members to download and even exchange free music files among the members. Bugs have said that `Soribada was a service which allowed its members to download and store free music files on their computers and even reproduce such files, but our streaming service only allows our members to listen to music just like radio stations. The only difference is that our music service is available at any time on demand by our members’. Soribada, like Napster, was shut down by a court order in August 2001 on charges of infringing copyrights. Bugs Music have also argued they are already paying about one percent of its income to the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) for its use of their copyrights. The labels are asking for twenty percent.
From The Korea Times