A crackdown on Web piracy

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A crackdown on Web piracy

We welcome the prosecution’s latest crackdown on Web hard-drive companies in an attempt to root out widespread piracy on the Internet. It would be almost impossible for the IT-savvy Korean society to talk about copyright protection without holding Web hard-drive businesses - a hotbed of illegal distribution of movies, music and other forms of entertainment - accountable.

Statistics show that a whopping 32.5 percent of the entire illegal online duplication market now amounting to 1.42 trillion won ($1.3 billion) is circulated via Web hard-drive firms. The prosecution’s seizure and search of the top 19 companies in the business was part of its largest-ever investigation of the illegal practice.

We expect the prosecution will do its best to set a good example for the industry by thoroughly digging into the case.

Illegal reproduction must be eradicated as it nibbles away at the very foundation of our culture and knowledge industry. Copyright protection is the primary inducement for the creative output of intellectual property.

Research by Sogang University affirms the expected economic effects when illegal duplication dwindles: If the mean practice diminishes by 10 percent, the contents industry of this country would grow 50 percent, creating 56,000 to 88,000 new jobs.

The contemptible practice will not be effectively stamped out by tightening related laws or regulations alone. It should be followed by a joint effort by the prosecution and the police as well as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to tackle the problem at its roots.

In addition, the authorities should upgrade efforts to cope with new types of reproduction as smartphones become more popular.

The legal penalties for those who commit such shameful theft should also be intensified because imposing light punishments on violators - for instance levying a fine much smaller than the revenue of a Web hard-drive company - would never be a sufficient deterrent to make them regretful of their illegitimate actions.

The authorities should rather confiscate the entire profits they make, along with handing down much tougher sentences, including imprisonment. In fact, the court already imposed a jail sentence of 16 months on a frequent Web pirate.

Wherever there is a demand, there is a supply. Only when a strong sense of guilt from an illegal copying permeates through the minds of consumers, will the evil vanish.
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