Monday, May 17, 2004


Interesting that picked this story up. South Korean Government began to crack down on fake Coach bags and other items in Itaewon, Seoul's main tourist shopping district, about five years which led to a dramatic decline of illegal copies. Let's see what happens with software.

South Korea's cat-and-mouse with piracy

By Michael Kanellos
Staff Writer, CNET

May 17, 2004, 6:57 AM PDT

SEOUL, South Korea--Koreans with pirated software have resorted to an old-fashioned method for skirting Microsoft and the authorities. They scram.

Recently in a city near Seoul called Incheon, police investigators empowered to audit software on PCs snuck in through an office building's back exit, according to a source who worked for an ISP inside the facility at the time. A receptionist immediately began to call all the businesses in the building.

"Everyone closed their doors," the former ISP employee said. The ISP wasn't so lucky. Its employees didn't get out in time, and the company had to pay $42,000 (50 million won) in software licenses and fines.

The cat-and-mouse game among the police, the U.S. software giant and businesses here is fairly common, according to several sources. The situation is in some ways reminiscent of the U.S. experience with Prohibition, where the government is simply trying to enforce the law but many people sympathize with the violators.

With a piracy rate of 40 percent to 50 percent, according to various estimates, Korea has become one of its hot spots for cracking down on illegal software. The government, concerned about the potential effect on exports and its own software industry, has responded by passing a number of reforms.

The Computer Program Protection Act, for instance, strengthened existing copyright laws, Eun Hyun Kim, senior legal manager for Microsoft Korea, said in an interview here. Last October, the government also passed a law that allows the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC), which governs the IT industry, to conduct piracy investigations. Before that, he said, only the prosecutor's office and the police could do so. (full article)

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