Redstone talks 'zero-tolerance' policy in Korea

SEOUL — Viacom exec chairman Sumner Redstone said Tuesday that Viacom and Paramount are taking a zero-tolerance stance on piracy. “Copyright is even more right in the digital age,” he said.

Speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum in the South Korean capital, Redstone said: “It’s harder and harder to make money in the media business,” pointing to websites enabling downloading of songs and movies, DVD piracy and the unauthorized Internet distribution of copyright content. “We cannot tolerate any form of piracy by anyone, including YouTube.”

He added: “From Times Square to Kwang Hwa Moon Square (in South Korea), the threats to copyright are grave, and they are growing.

“When you can instantly and easily download a high-quality feature-length film for free — with no repercussions — the incentive to purchase it quickly evaporates. You can imagine just how devastating it is to learn that your new blockbuster release has hit the streets before it opens.”

Redstone told confab delegates that the huge Asian markets were increasingly interested in intellectual property regulation.

He said Bollywood had success in lobbying the Indian government and China was stepping up controls to protect the content it will produce for the Beijing Olympics.

“I am increasingly preaching to the converted in piracy-prone markets around the world,” Redstone said. “Governments in China and India are starting to take an active interest in enforcing copyright, if only to protect their own homegrown content.

“Korea will, no doubt, follow suit given the quantity and quality of local content that is at risk,” he said.

Redstone said Viacom was seeking deals with Korean companies, and that it planned to boost investment in the Korean animation industry, which is responsible for delivering “The Simpsons.”

“Korea is the third-largest cable and satellite ad market in Asia. Currently MTV and Nickelodeon are here in Korea, but on a far more limited basis than we would like,” he said. “We are forging partnerships with local media leaders such as Nexon and Daum in the gaming and digital areas.”

He said Viacom’s MTV Networks last week agreed to supply digital content to NHN Corp., South Korea’s largest Internet firm by revenue.

He urged government authorities and “aggregators” including Internet service providers, device manufacturers, hosting companies and site operators to join efforts to fight piracy.

“We do ask that companies that become aware of piracy using their facilities, do something about it,” Redstone said.

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