A secret global treaty, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement was leaked on the “total transparency” site Wikileaks. This treaty can have a huge affect on the way the Internet is used, and how people that download copyrighted material will get punished. Under the ACTA, Internet providers (I.S.P.s) in the U.S., Europe, Japan, Korea, and other signatory markets will be required to monitor their users activity online, or face huge lawsuits themselves. Any material that will be considered copyrighted will have to be removed as soon as found, even without proof of infringement of copyright. Even casual violators will be threatened with losing Internet access and facing criminal charges. The worst part is that service providers, customs agents, and law enforcement officials will have the power to search private accounts and personal devices such as laptops, MP3 players, and even cellphones all without the need of warrants or probable cause.
“It’s almost like there’s an institutional disrespect for copyright in Asia… People feel like, ‘If I can’t touch it, why should I have to pay for it?'” says Seung Bak, co founder of the video streaming startup DramaFever, which brings free, English-subtitled Asian television to U.S. audiences.
With Korea’s extremely fast Internet connection, most of the companies who own copyrighted material actually try to work with the Internet companies and the people who “break” copyright laws. The way they see it is that if more people that use their content, even in some ways that seem to be wrong, (such as streaming them online for free or altering them for different story lines, sometimes pornographic) the more customers and the more sales that will occur. The mentality there is to try to help and work with the customers and see them as allies, even if it means blurring the lines of copyright infringement sometimes, instead of viewing them as potential pirates and criminals.