Korea: KCPA measures illegal game play & game copyright infringement, publishes response guide

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Published in September, the Guide to Response to Illegal Games and Game Copyright Infringement was produced by the Korea Copyright Protection Agency, the Game Management Committee, the Korea Copyright Commission, the Korea Creative Content Agency, and the Korea Game Industry Association.

The guide is segmented into the user’s position and the rights holder’s position. From the user’s perspective, KCPA dealt with copyright infringement cases that can be easily encountered in everyday life.

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From the rights holder’s perspective, cases of copyright infringement that may occur during game production were explained along with precedents.

Infringing game play in Korea

In 2022, 92% of infringing game play was online.  14.5% of game players used illegal game instances that year, which was down by about 7% from 2021’s 21.7%.  19.6% of gamers used illegal copies in 2020.

Game piracy fell from 2020 to 2021 but rose again in 2022. Infringers were more likely to be young and male. (Source: KCPA 2023)

About three quarters of gamers who accessed them via torrenting said they knew they were accessing illegally.  About 28% of users found illegal game instances through search engines, matching the percentage who were told of them by acquaintences.

How game developers respond

The study found that about 20% of game developers have processes in place to monitor for infringement, and issue warnings to infringers.  Of those 20% which do, 89.5% warn that they have detected infringement.  Nearly half (47.4%) warn that they may file for compensation for damages, while 10.5% warn that they will proceed with criminal charges.

The report also cited a variety of piracy cases and their outcomes.  The judgment in one 2023 private server copyright infringement case found defendants liable for total damages of 300 million Won (equivalent to about $220,000 in US dollars), based on the profits that they had earned.

Read the Guide (in Korean language)

Illegal Game and Game Copyright Infringement Response Guide.  Report. September 20, 2023. by Eunji Lee. Korea Copyright Protection Agency.

Why it matters

While most piracy observers concentrate on the theft of video services and content, the game industry is just as vulnerable to it.  For example, in countries like the United States, the game industry is much larger than the film industry.

While the report doesn’t reveal methods or suppliers of piracy detection and anti-piracy mitigation technologies, it’s no surprise that game developers would monitor infringing behavior.

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