Feb 20, 2024

Kakao Entertainment’s Ongoing Efforts to Stamp Out Illegal Content Piracy Achieves Significant Industry Milestone

SEOUL, February 19, 2024 – Kakao Entertainment’s Illegal Distribution Response Team, P.CoK, today releases its fourth whitepaper, marking a significant milestone in the battle against content piracy with the removal of the highest number of illegal works to date. This comprehensive report outlines the team’s achievements over the past seven months in combatting the illegal distribution of webtoons and web novels, highlighting notable progress in legal responses, copyright protection, and user collaboration initiatives.

The whitepaper underscores a significant achievement in takedown operations, totaling 208 million within seven months. This success surpasses the total announced in the third whitepaper by over 14 times and the first by more than 88 times and is credited to the introduction of an automated process that analyzes domain change patterns and enables faster responses to illegal sites both in Korea and overseas. It was anticipated that the new system would block more illegal distributions in 2023 but actual performance exceeded expectations by nearly eightfold. Expanding the response system to encompass all language regions, including the Middle East, Latin America, and Vietnam, made a notable contribution to its success.

The whitepaper also detailed the launch of comprehensive legal actions against illegal sites and operators. Kakao Entertainment identified and initiated legal proceedings against various overseas illegal sites, including the operators of the world’s largest illegal distribution site, ‘M.’ It also initiated a proposal to join hands with the Japanese manga industry and take joint legal action. The operators of Chinese piracy sites ‘L’ and ‘Yi’ were identified, and documents were submitted to the Chinese Internet Court. In Thailand, accounts were temporarily frozen, and preparations were made for legal proceedings against operators there. The team is also working to takedown major illegal webtoon sites in Latin America, further reinforcing Kakao Entertainment’s commitment to combat global content piracy.

Identifying the operators of illegal sites is crucial as a prerequisite to shut them down and bring prosecution against them. Since most illegal sites have servers overseas, identifying perpetrators for prosecution poses significant challenges. Even after filing a complaint, prosecution can be difficult due to anonymity. Kakao Entertainment is taking proactive steps towards shutting down these sites by leveraging its operator-identification system and global platform networks amassed through years of enforcement expertise. This involves sharing information with local branches and affiliates to facilitate civil and criminal lawsuits through local law enforcement agencies as well as private law firms.

Kakao Entertainment has also initiated a practice of sending copyright protection letters to creators from July last year, providing them with quarterly updates on the latest enforcement progress. The letters have so far covered over 600 illegal distribution cases involving 100 content providers. Each case of copyright infringement has been thoroughly addressed by Kakao Entertainment, and the outcomes were communicated to the respective creators.

This groundbreaking initiative by Kakao Entertainment is the first of its kind in the industry, systematically informing creators about the protection status of their works. It relays information on cases reported by creators themselves and sheds light on instances of illegal distribution involving their works without their knowledge. Kakao Entertainment will gradually expand the number of recipients as the creators appreciate being able to quantitatively track the progress.

Meaningful changes have also been made in user communication, which has been actively carried out across various social media channels. The copyright awareness initiatives that have been in place since the first whitepaper have further minimized blind spots in enforcement monitoring, and the enhanced engagement with users through social media platforms has fostered a community of vigilant collaborators who actively report illegal products and operators, thereby bolstering enforcement efforts.