S. Korea's illegal movie market estimated at 3.75 tln won

By Shim Sun-ah

SEOUL, June 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's illegal movie market is estimated at 3.75 trillion won (US$3.3 billion) a year, a government report showed Tuesday, in a sign of rampant illegitimate downloading that hurts the film industry.

The report by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) monitored 2,322 local and foreign films illegally uploaded on 93 domestic webhards without copyright permission and found that the downloads caused an estimated 840 billion won revenue losses per year to the industry.

Webhard refers to an Internet file storage service that allows users to store and manage digital files and share them with multiple people.

The report calculated the amount of loss based on average fees for legitimate downloading of the films, according to the council.

But when the actual number of webhards and peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services operating in Korea is considered, the total size of the illegal online movie distribution market is effectively estimated at 3.75 trillion won, the council said.

"The Korean film industry needs to clamp down on the illegal market in order to overcome its high dependence on ticket sales and gain global competitiveness," the report said.

As part of such efforts, the government had conducted a five-month-long crackdown on 10 of the estimated 60 domestic torrent download sites.

In the crackdown, dozens of operators of the online P2P service and its heavy users have been booked by police for allegedly circulating more than 1,000 movies, computer software and television shows illegally, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said last month. The ministry oversees protecting copyrighted works.

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