End illegal downloading

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End illegal downloading

The government plans to start paying for online news content, making its position clear in the global debate over the future of the Web as more content providers re-evaluate their strategy at a time when the global newspaper industry is suffering.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism reported to the president in its business outline for 2010 that all government agencies will be required to pay publishers for the news content they carry on their Web sites as well as electronic news clippings and other online bulletin boards.

This year, 39 government ministries and agencies paid news publishers 290 million won ($246,790) for their content, but when they separately pay for news clips and bulletins each office looks up, the bill will shoot up to 4.6 billion won next year.

Regardless of the sum, the government should be commended for recognizing the value of news content and its copyright.

Protecting online news content amid falling advertising revenue topped the agenda at the World Newspaper Congress early this month.

Copyright protection is not restricted to news. Stringent copyright laws that slap heavier fines on offenders took effect in July.

And the Internet police under the auspices of the Culture Ministry has been monitoring for violations on a 24/7 basis.

But many still don’t regard downloading copyrighted media available from the Web as a problem.

Of the total 1,836,496 criminal cases reported in 2007, only 3.7 percent were for copyright law violations. Of 247,055 lawsuits filed in the same year, copyright-related suits made up 8 percent.

The government plans to strengthen the law from next year by raising the fines for downloading copyrighted music and movies as well.

Everyone must now think twice before uploading or downloading media content as doing so will be tantamount to committing a crime.

Without copyright protection, the government cannot succeed in its plan to foster media content exports of $100 million a year and create a fund to support start-up content ventures worth 100 billion won next year.

The Korean-made animated show “Pororo” and the TV drama “Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace)” could not have raked in top dollars from overseas sales if they had not been safeguarded by copyright.

From news to animation, all value-added content must be respected for its intrinsic worth. Illegal downloading waters down the value of our cultural assets and reduces potential earning, and it must end as soon as possible.

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