[EDITORIALS]Not a nice tune

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[EDITORIALS]Not a nice tune

Internet users' repulsion is growing over the ruling by the Suwon District Court that Soribada, a Korean peer-to-peer site, should stop allowing its users to exchange digital music files. The verdict was in favor of the Recording Industry Association of Korea, which had applied for a provisional injunction seeking to halt the file swapping of music on the site. Although the site has not been terminated, its service can be stopped regardless of further court disputes by both sides if the association deposits a 200 million won ($169,000) surety bond within seven days. We can easily expect that the site's users will be greatly disappointed since they have enjoyed the free exchange of information. Furthermore, Napster eventually went belly-up when it began to charge users for its service after a U.S. court ruled against it in April 2001. The Suwon court's ruling can prohibit Soribada or other peer-to-peer sites from surviving, given Napster's fate.

As asserted by the association, Soribada and similar Internet sites could have thwarted the Korean music industry. Or as their users claim, those sites could have stimulated the popularity of songs among the masses. We strongly advocate the protection of digital copyrights even before asking whether or not commercial profits were unfairly exploited.

But we think that Soribada is a victim of a society in which online changes are not fully accommodated in the off-line laws and institutions. As a result, we need to shape up the laws and institutions as soon as possible so as not to allow unfortunate things to happen again.

We are not satisfied with the government and the National Assembly's reaction. Three months after the association filed a suit against Soribada in January 2001, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture disclosed its plan to comprehensively revise the Copyright Act to sort out problems over the Internet. But the Culture and Tourism Committee of the National Assembly has yet to finish its review of the revised act. Although a new law governing the digitalization of various information went into effect as of July 1, some of its clauses can be contradictory to the Copyright Act. Laws have to be installed sooner than later to protect copyrights and to promote technological developments.
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