September 01, 2009 08:46
The Korean film industry is seething after a copy of the blockbuster "Haeundae" was found being illegally distributed over the internet last weekend, especially since the film had galvanized the industry by becoming the fifth Korean film ever to draw over 10 million viewers. Public calls for strong legal action against piracy are gaining support, but it might be too late to stop the spread of the bootleg overseas as it is already circulating on Chinese websites.
"Haeundae" was leaked online to a Korean file-sharing site on Saturday morning, according to CJ Entertainment, a major investor in the movie and its distributor. It spread quickly and by Saturday evening copies were available for download on most file-sharing sites, the company said. CJ had identified 24 sites where "Haeundae" was being circulated by Saturday, while police found over 160. It is estimated that the film has already been downloaded several hundred thousands times in Korea alone.
The bootleg is identical to the screen version with a DVD-quality image. It seems to have been uploaded by someone involved in the film's production or distribution.
By Sunday evening "Haeundae" was available on Chinese websites. The film was released in over 600 theaters in China last Tuesday and in eight U.S. cities last Friday, and the bootleg is likely to threaten its theatrical success in these countries.
"Pirate DVDs of 'Haeundae' will be on the market in China by Tuesday, and you'll be able to find them on the streets of Bangkok sometime this week," said an official at CJ Entertainment. "Realistically, there is little we can do to fix the situation."
The film's director Yoon Je-kyoon said, "What kind of a film buyer would import a Korean film for theatrical distribution when a pirate version is already available? Aside from affecting the film's box office success, it will be a huge loss to the Korean film industry trying to export films."
Illegal trading of content over the internet is a crime subject to a maximum of five years in jail or W50 million fine (US$1=W1,249).
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