2 charged with pirating Korean TV programs

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2 charged with pirating Korean TV programs

A computer engineering professor at a Gyeonggi university was arrested yesterday for allegedly pirating about 30,000 copyrighted TV programs online beginning in 2006, pocketing 9.57 billion won ($8.7 million) over the years. The arrest was announced by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

The 50-year-old professor allegedly recorded shows aired by Korea’s major broadcasting companies and uploaded the video clips to a file-sharing Web site catering to Koreans in the United States and Canada. The professor was aided by a computer technician, a former student, who ran the Web site. Both men are now being questioned.

The pair allegedly charged each of about 30,000 subscribers $14 per month for unlimited access to the unauthorized uploads, grossing more than 9 billion won in total. They used TV tuner cards that allowed them to record shows on a computer.

The international crimes division of the police agency said that the two men managed to post the contents of the files within 30 minutes after the end of a broadcast.

“They cashed in on overseas Koreans who want to watch Korean TV shows as quickly as possible,” said a police officer at the division who refused to divulge his name. He valued the stolen programs at about 400 billion won, but he did not explain his methodology.

In order to evade detection, the two hosted the programs on a server based in a different country and frequently changed the names and Web address of their sites. They also barred access to the Web sites by local Internet users. They used a Singapore-based payment gateway company to collect subscription fees and then channeled them to a shell company they set up in Hong Kong.

They apparently went undetected until 2011 when a foreign branch office of a Korean broadcasting company found the site and notified the police.

The police said they were widening their investigation, suspecting that the two arrested men are not the only ones providing this illegal service to homesick Koreans.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]
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