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South Korea’s “Three-Strikes” Law Takes Effect

Tough new anti-P2P efforts include six-month suspension of Internet connections for those accused of copyright infringement.

Back in March Korea’s National Assembly’s Committee on Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting & Communications (CCSTB&C) passed a bill to amend the country’s copyright laws so as to include a so called “three strikes,” or “graduated response,” system for combating illegal file-sharing.

Today those amendments take effect, making South Korea the first country to institute a system that includes terminating the Internet connections of people accused of copyright infringement.

Under the revised law people accused of copyright infringement can have their Internet connections suspended for up to six months. Regulators can also shut down Web sites after a third warning over copyright infringement, regardless of whether or not the copyright holders complained about it.

However, the govt says it’s mainly targeting those engaged in large-scale illegal uploading or distribution of copyrighted material with the intent of making profits.

How long this last remains to be seen. I’m sure copyright holders won’t refrain from targeting noncommercial file-sharers under the new law, especially being that teens charged with illegal file-sharing has skyrocketed from 611 in 2006 to 23,470 last year.

Up until this past February South Korean police actually worked to help young file-sharers avoid hefty settlement fines by recommending summary trials to address charges of copyright infringement. Police wanted to use summary trials because it means fines of less than 200,000 won ($146 USD). They feared kids would grow desperate and resort to theft or other crime to come up with the large amount of settlement money demanded by copyright holders.

Stay tuned.

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