Junior, Dept. of English
We live in an information-oriented world. Knowledge and information form important parts of modern society. At the same time, the nature of information has changed. Now, it counts as money. The development of the Internet has significantly contributed to this change.
Through the Internet, we can obtain enormous amounts of information in a breeze. However, there is a problem that many people, while familiar with its name, still have only a vague understanding of; it is 'Copyright.'
It is true that enormous amounts of original products such as music, images, and videos are illegally circulating on the Internet and that they infringe the copyrighters' property rights. As there has been no proper legal restraint, many people have illegally downloaded these creations.
To remedy the situation, the government and some copyrighters have recently started taking action. Although such actions have improved the situation, the copyrighters are still not effectively protected. What, then, is the problem and is there a better solution?
You might have heard of music-downloading sites such as 'Soribada' and 'Bugsmusic.' Before, we were able to download music-files from web-sites without paying for them. Long court cases have finally decided to charge for all the music files offered on such sites, and the problem has been largely solved.
However, free downloads on P2P or portal-sites are causing more complex problems. Users accused of infringing copyright are required to pay from 500,000 to 1 million Won to the copyrighters. Just one click can bring a heavy fine of more than 500,000 Won. It seems too severe, as most of the infringers are young and are not aware of the importance and seriousness of infringing copyright. Some of them do not even know that they are breaking the law. Their friends do the same thing and only a few 'unlucky' ones are accused.
Consumers should also be protected in an environment where anyone can download files illegally. Furthermore, in some cases, the copyright-law is being abused when ignorant young users are fined.
Stronger regulations and copyright-acts may, however, discourage Internet-users' active participation in Internet-activities and may eventually stratify Internet-users by economic class. The wealthy may enjoy expensive information, while others may not. It would then be useless to talk about the advantages of the Internet and its promise of equal access to information for everyone.
The online-environment is obviously different from the offline-environment. So, we have to adopt improved policies to recognize the difference between them. Online-restrictions should not be as severe as those imposed in the offline-environment.
I think that we have to change our position regarding Internet-copyright from the negative stance of protecting only the copyrighter, to a policy of fair and full-use of original work.
The Creative Commons Movement was started with this purpose in mind. It takes the position of not only protecting but also sharing. Its open-copyright policy allows for everyone to use Internet-property except for commercial purposes.
The government has to provide standards of what is legal and what is illegal and needs to present proper guidelines to the consumer. This is a way to protect not only copyrighters' rights but also to protect consumers.