Korean producers call for bigger piracy fines


SEOUL -- The Korean Film Producers Assn. called on the government Monday to step up its campaign against online piracy in the new year, saying that weak penalties for intellectual property violations are insufficient.

More than 150 companies in Korea are involved in online IP violations, and fines ranging from $2,340-$26,600 are not enough to deter most violators, the KPFA said in a press release.

The organization welcomed the government's fining of 31 companies for providing illegal downloads, peer-to-peer file-sharing and other online services, but Kevin Chang, secretary general at the KFPA, said those fines need to be stepped up.

"Even when illegal services get fined, the fines are just small change. We need to take stronger action," said Chang, whose group has been working with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism for months to crack down on P2P service providers and other illegal sites.

Chang said that the KFPA next month will launch lawsuits against Korea's top five Internet Service Providers but declined to offer further details.

"President-elect Lee Myung-bak promised strong support for IP, so we are hopeful," Chang said. "We want to talk to the MPAA later this year, too, to get their help."

The MPAA estimated in a 2005 study that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for $1.2 billion in lost revenue, singling out P2P online piracy as a "significant concern in countries with high broadband penetration rates, such as South Korea and Japan."

At October's Pusan International Film Festival, organizers launched the Green Mind Campaign against illegal downloading and online piracy, teaming up with the Korean Film Council, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Information and Communication and the festival's host city of Busan.