Welcome to the cutting-edge world of P.CoK, our elite team of experts leading the charge in the fight against digital piracy. Also known as the Global Anti-Piracy Task Force, P.CoK works tirelessly to safeguard the digital rights of our amazing content creators.
Due to the sensitive nature of their work and the ongoing threat of cyber reprisals, we agreed to keep their identities under wraps in exchange for the chance to tell the fascinating story about what they do, their innovative approach, and the challenges they face.
First of all… why P.CoK?
P.CoK: Well, the name takes its inspiration from the eyes on a peacock’s feathers. We’re always on the lookout for illegal use of Kakao Entertainment’s exclusive content worldwide, moving quickly to report and remove illegal postings of our webtoons and web novels.
What are some of the ways infringements happen?
P.CoK: We see them on a variety of illegal websites, social media platforms, video sites, chat apps, and more. We also block accounts that distribute illegal content. In fact, since our launch in 2021, our team has detected 2.25 million cases of illegal content use and registered 2,000 search-blocking keywords. We also raise awareness, using our twitter account to encourage fans worldwide to join us in support of their favorite creators by fighting piracy.
Let’s take a step back and talk about how P.CoK got its start.
P.CoK: Copyright protection has always been a major issue for Kakao Entertainment but as webtoons took off overseas, the problem ballooned. P.CoK was created to proactively monitor, report, and take down illegal content. We also started targeting the illegal distribution of web novels last year.
Why is illegal distribution more serious for webtoons and web novels?
P.CoK: The main thing is that the content is “snackable.” Webtoons and web novels come out in short segments meant to be consumed quickly. It’s part of why the content is so popular, but it also makes the industry vulnerable to illegal distribution. Most readers only read the content once and move on, so they might not even realize they’re accessing it illegally. That can be very demotivating to creators and publishers who put so much work into producing these stories.
I can feel how much pride the team takes in this.
P.CoK: Definitely. We’re the first to do it, and we take our responsibility seriously – protecting the webtoon ecosystem, improving copyright awareness, to make a positive impact on the industry. We want to make sure the public understands the harm caused by illegal content distribution.
Have you been able to put a number on the losses caused?
P.CoK: It’s hard to know exactly because illegal distribution can have such a wide-ranging impact. But we are looking closely into it. One of our goals this year is to create a database of illegal websites that will give us a much clearer picture of the damage being done.
How do you do it? What are some of the technologies you use?
P.CoK: We take a two-pronged approach: prevention and eradication. For prevention, we rely on some pretty cool tech, like watermarking, image recognition, and usage pattern analysis. These help us keep an eye on things and nip illegal activity in the bud.
Another go-to method is eradication, mainly by collecting illegal work titles. Content pirates often change the name of a title and hide it away in private, invite-only communities, often using multiple names. So, we created a dedicated multilingual team to root out illegal sites and social media feeds, collect the titles of illegally distributed works, and get them removed.
How do you raise awareness while also discouraging illegal consumption by fans?
P.CoK: It’s super disheartening to see all the hard work that goes into creating webtoons being illegally distributed, sometimes within just a few hours of releasing the new episode. It disrespects the creative work of the artists and, at its base, is cybercrime. We convey that message to fans around the world via our twitter account, while also encouraging ex-illegal distributors to sign on to our anti-piracy pledge.
We also publish white papers to share our knowledge with the industry, helping to create best practices for stamping out illegal distribution. Kakao Entertainment’s platforms are not the only ones affected by this and we need to stand together to eradicate illegal distribution. Our white papers are on the Kakao Entertainment Global Newsroom so please check them out.
What kind of skill set do you need to be a member of P.CoK?
P.CoK: For starters, you’ve got to love webtoons and web novels and have a strong sense of responsibility for protecting Kakao Entertainment’s intellectual property. We’re fans, too, and we know how much effort goes into creating them. Sometimes it’s not easy because illegal distributors target us directly, but we are dedicated to protecting creators’ rights and helping the web literature industry grow in a healthy way.
Can illegal distribution ever be completely eradicated?
P.CoK: The fight is bigger than us, that’s for sure. We need an industry-wide awareness that includes fans, companies, governments, and law enforcement. We believe we are making progress slowly but surely. If we all work together, we can create a safer, more ethical environment for everyone.