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Kakao proposes tackling illegal content distribution with Japanese counterparts

Dec. 1, 2023 - 16:37 By Song Jung-hyun

Officials from Korea’s Copyright Overseas Promotion Association and Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association are seen in this photo taken during an exchange session held in Tokyo from Nov.28-30. (Kakao Entertainment)

Kakao Entertainment, a content arm under Korea’s IT giant Kakao Corp., said Friday that it proposed Japan's manga industry take joint legal action to tackle illegal distribution of webtoons and web novels.

In the latest exchange session jointly held by Korea’s Copyright Overseas Promotion Association (COA), an organization of major Korean content companies for overseas copyright protection, and Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), a leading Japanese association also engaged in copyright protection with 31 renowned Japanese publishers as its members, Kakao Entertainment proposed taking joint legal action against three individuals operating the world's biggest illegal content distribution website called "M" to its Japanese counterparts.

Kakao Entertainment attended the session representing Korea's webtoon industry as the chair of COA.

The three-day exchange session, consisting of various meetings and workshop programs, was held in Tokyo from Tuesday.

On the second day of the session, Kakao shared the intelligence it gathered over the past few years on M. It identified three operators behind the world's largest illegal content distribution site, including its founder.

According to Kakao, the website logged some 15 billion page views as of this October. About 20,000 Japanese and 7,000 Korean manga contents are found to be in circulation on the website, and some 10,000 groups are involved in the translation of the works, Kakao said.

Based on the number of page views and fees charged per episode, the scale of losses inflicted globally by M every month is estimated to be around 3 trillion won ($2.29 billion). The figure did not take into account the profits reaped by secondary derivative content creation, Kakao added.

Kakao's proposal includes constant monitoring and blocking of illegal postings on global portal sites such as Google and social media platforms, as well as a covert crackdown on illegal websites and translation communities.

If the plan materializes, it would mark the first instance of joint action by the two countries' manga industries, and is anticipated to significantly alter the global landscape of illegal content distribution, Kakao said.

"As both Korean and Japanese content are highly popular worldwide, we believe there are many areas we can collaborate to eliminate illegal distribution of intellectual properties," said COA Director Cho Han-kyu at the meeting.

“Going forward, we will ramp up our collaboration with the Japanese content industry to realize this goal.”