South Korea

South Korea’s Copyright Law provides for a duty on access providers to prevent online infringement following an evidenced complaint from a right holder (Art. 103, Copyright Law No. 432). The ISP must immediately prevent the infringing transmissions and notify both the putative infringer and the right holder that he has done so.

The subscriber then has the right to request the resumption of access services. In that case, the ISP must notify the right holder and may resume the provision of access without incurring liability.

Article 104 makes provision obligating ISPs to use technical measures to prevent infringements. In the case of service providers “whose main purpose is to enable different people to interactively transmit works, etc. among themselves by computers”, a right holder may request that the infringement of his works be terminated. The ISP must take “necessary measures such as technical measures for blocking illegal interactive transmission of works”.

The detailed implementation of both Articles is provided for in Presidential Decree No. 1482 of 1959 (Arts 40 – 46). The “technical measures” referred to in Article 104 are defined to comprise “(1) any technical measure by which works, etc. may be identified through comparison of the title, etc. and characteristics of works, etc.; (2) any measure to restrict search and transmission to block illegal transmission of works, etc. that have been identified under subparagraph 1; and (3) sending of a warning message calling upon a transmitter of the works, etc. to stop infringement on copyrights, etc., in case the illegal transmitter is identifiable” (Art. 46, Presidential Decree No. 1482 of 1959).

Under Article 133-2(2) of the Copyright Act, after 3 warnings the Minister may order the ISP to suspend the subscriber’s internet access for up to 6 months. Section 133-3 of the Act empowers the Korean Copyright Commission to issue recommendations to ISPs to issue warnings to subscribers or suspend or delete internet access accounts. However, the only sanction for non-compliance is that the Commission may make a request to the Minister to issue an order under Article 133-2(2) of the Act.

The Korean Copyright Commission publishes statistics as to the number of warnings and suspensions in its 2013 Annual Report on Copyright in Korea:

2013 Korea Statistics

It appears that in 2013 the Copyright Special Judicial Police launched a major criminal operation in cooperation with the Korea Copyright Commission and the Copyright Protection Center, carrying out searches and seizures relating to 10 major torrent sites and 15 hosting and domain registration companies. 12 torrent site operators and 41 large-scale uploaders (“seeders”) were referred for prosecution (see page 52, 2013 Annual Report) on Copyright in Korea). This may account for the sudden lapse in account suspensions in 2013, though it will be noted from the statistics above, Korea has not ordered account suspension in relation to peer-to-peer users.

Copyright Law, No. 432

Copyright Enforcement Decree (Presidential Decree No. 1482 of 1959, as amended 2010)

Copyright Law Enforcement Rules (in force 24 July 2009)