SEOUL — The scale of losses to piracy in the Korean film industry is escalating sharply as pirates and the consuming public move ever more online.
The Korean film industry’s losses to piracy stand at $1 billion in 2007, up more than three times the $300 million total in 2005, according to a new report by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), that is largely due to the rise in online theft.
Presented at a recent conference on Korean film industry development, the report estimates the counterfeit DVD market is worth $41 million and illegal download market $129 million in South Korea, based on a film consumer survey conducted by KOFIC.
The survey of 2,358 film consumers, aged from 15 to 49, revealed that 8.1% of all respondents had purchased counterfeit DVDs sold on the street, typically paying $10 for three to five movies, while 27% said they knew of their friends or family purchasing pirate DVDs.
The bigger problem in South Korean piracy market lies in Internet downloading. Some 47% of all respondents had illegally downloaded feature movies for free or paying less than 50 cents per title during the past year.
As many as 27% stated they knew of illegal movie downloading by their family or friends, even though they had not experienced it themselves.
The respondents who had been involved in illegal downloading stated they downloaded approximately 55 movies per year, or more than one per week. Some 35% of downloaders said they did so within a month of a movie’s theatrical release, and 29% said they knew how and where to find illegal downloads even while a film was on theatrical release. Some 18% said they could download before release.
The survey indicated 34% of all respondents had uploaded feature films through file sharing sites, and that the average number they uploaded amounted to 44 films during the past year.
When asked what is the advantage of file sharing sites, the survey’s findings showed that people prefer Internet download over DVD rentals as it provides better economic efficiency(33%), better time feasibility(21%), the latest released movies (18%), convenience(16%), and a better selection of movies (11%).
However, only 47% of all respondents recognized the illegality of Internet downloading, while 22% said there was no legal problem, and 31% were unclear about the legality.
Responses were clearer concerning counterfeit DVDs sold on the street. Some 59% knew that it is illegal, 10% believed that there was no problem, and as much as 31% said they had no idea.
Fully 37% said they would be more likely to go to movie theaters if copyright enforcement were strengthened, and 14% said they would use legal movie download services if they were more available.