Heavy investment in South Korea

The value of the South Korean recorded music market increased from US$148.5 million in 2008 to US$195.8 million in 2011. The value of the market slipped back by 4.3 per cent in 2012, largely due to the collapse of Cyworld, a major social networking platform and one of the biggest services in the market. Digital music revenues are expected to bounce back in 2013.

The market trend over time is clear. In 2005, South Korea was ranked as the 33rd largest recorded music market in the world. By 2012, it was the 11th largest recorded music market.

South Korea placement in global market rankings

2007 23
2009 14
2012 11

One of the key rewards of South Korea’s improved legal environment is more investment in local artists. Domestic repertoire used to account for around 60 per cent of recorded music sales, but this figure has climbed to around 80 per cent with the boom in K-Pop. Around 70 per cent of the revenue from “K-Pop” repertoire comes through digital channels, compared with 55 per cent across the market as a whole.

South Korea’s improved copyright landscape did not happen overnight. The government began to update its copyright law in 2007, requiring online service providers to filter illegal content on request from rights holders. In July 2009, graduated response measures were introduced and in April 2011 a new law required cyberlockers and P2P services to register with the government and implement filtering measures.

Graduated response is integral to South Korea’s copyright enforcement system. In 2012, the Korean Copyright Commission issued over 250,000 recommendations to service providers resulting in 175 cyberlocker account suspensions. So far, 150 local services have been involved in the programme and the government reports that over 90 per cent of the cases the service provider cooperated voluntarily.

The impact of the measures in respect of piracy via cyberlockers was significant: usage of cyberlockers fell by 38 per cent in 2012 and, according to authorities, 70 per cent of cyberlocker users stop infringing after receiving their first notice. If users refuse to stop following three notices, this triggers a further series of “correction orders” issued by the MCST. Only a small percentage of users continued to infringe once they received repeat notices backed by a sanction.

In May 2012, a new law came into effect requiring cyberlockers/hybrid P2P operators to register with the Copyright Commission and provide details of the individuals responsible for running the service, as well as to submit a plan for the implementation of filtering and other technical measures to prevent infringement.

South Korean copyright law also requires online service providers, including P2P services, to block the illegal distribution of infringing material. Unauthorised P2P services and overseas blogs and cyberlockers are targeted through a programme of website blocking. The Ministry Culture, Sports and Tourism has worked with the Korean Communications Commission on the blocking of infringing sites with 41 sites since 2011.

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