[EDITORIALS]Balance Needed in CopyrightsProsecutors have decided that Soribada, a free online music-swapping service, violates copyright laws, so a court will decide the matter. On Saturday, prosecutors indicted the two operators of the service on charges of having taken no action despite knowing that the service's users violated copyright laws. The fact that the indictment was delayed for seven months after the Recording Industry Association of Korea filed a complaint against the service in January shows how prosecutors have agonized over the decision.
Copyrights should be protected online as well as offline. But too-strict copyright protection can be an obstacle to Internet technology development. A proper balance between the law and the real-world situation is called for.
Even though it may have been inevitable that the matter ended up in court, we are still saddened by the development. There is still room for an innovative solution, however. A good example is what happened to Napster, a free online music-swapping service in the United States, which differs somewhat from Soribada in some technological aspects, such as leaving data on a server, but still one that ignited a copyright controversy. As Napster is attempting to do, Soribada could also sign license contracts with recording companies and charge relatively low fees. This way, the service could be faithful to the online ethic of sharing information and freedom of expression while at the same time protecting copyrights.
Since the matter arose from progress in technology, the extreme measure of shutting down the service, as some demand, should be avoided. People should not forget that facilitating the exchange and use of intellectual property, thereby promoting the development of society, is also part of protecting copyrights.
The government should act to ease the fears of Soribada, Daum, Hitel and other online message board operators. While the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced in March that it will rewrite the copyright law to facilitate online production and to streamline regulations for Internet use, there are no results so far. We call for a speedy resolution of the matter so that offline laws do not infringe on the development of the online world.