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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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IP enforcement comes to Korea

Developments abroad on intellectual property don't get a lot of attention in the US. South Korea, one of the most wired nations, has been the object of a good deal of official attention, but not much otherwise. While I was economic counselor in our embassy in the 70s, enforcing copyrights and patents was an uphill battle. Most of the offenders were small mom-and-pop operations and the policemen on the beat were reluctant to prosecute small sellers of software or knockoffs of branded clothing, etc. I argued that the Koreans would enforce IP when they had developed it and wanted to protect their property. Unfortunately in hindsight--I was charged with pushing for enforcement--I seem to have been right, as they are doing so now according to this story link here.

Under the headline, "Crackdown nabs 39 uploaders for digital theft"; the Korea Herald tells us that "digital theft is blamed for an annual loss of more than 2 trillion won ($1.34 billion) in South Korea, the world's most wired country, with nearly 20,000 files of copyrighted content circulating illegally last year alone;" that "the individuals charged last month were described as "heavy uploaders" who received money from internet service providers in return for posting more than 1,000 files on local peer-to-peer sites; that "twelve had been previously convicted of breaking copyright and computer program protection laws"; and that "last month, a court sentenced the chiefs of the country's four top internet service providers to one year in prison and a 30 million won fine for facilitating illegal distribution of copyrighted content.... the first time criminal charges had ever been brought."

Thirty years ago, I would have been happy to read this result of development, but now, only with regret. The opponents of monopoly are losing abroad as well as here.


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