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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: There’s this online program that enables users to swap MP3 files, and a music-industry lobbying group wants it shut down. OK, don’t stop us yet. The peer-to-peer site and lobbyists in question are based in Korea, not California. And Napster’s Shawn Fanning never got indicted. Two U.S.-educated Korean brothers were busted for creating the file-swapping program (though the Korea Times only mentioned one of them being indicted). “We aren’t gangsters,” one of them told the AP. “We wanted South Korea to have its own Napster.” Their techno-patriotism could get them up to five years in jail and $38,500 in fines — but they’re not in jail now, “because neither reaped a sizable economic gain from their operation of the Web site,” said CBS MarketWatch. That doesn’t matter to the Recording Industry Association of Korea, which filed a complaint in January, after the brothers refused to stop the service, called Soribada (“the sea of sound” in Korean). “Like the people who run Napster,” said the AP, the brothers “have offered to transform Soribada into a paid service.” They’ve also said that Soribada is just a channel of communication, and that it shouldn’t be held responsible for piracy — all of which sounds a lot like the “conduit” defense that didn’t work for Napster in 2000. One difference is that Soribada won’t be shut down until after the Seoul District Court comes to a final decision, and no one knows when that will be. Also, said the AP, Soribada is really more like Gnutella, because it “does not rely on central servers to index the files that users share.” Like many copyright cases, this one is seen as a slippery slope. “Most Internet users said that if the court enforces a closure, it could be a chilling prediction of things to come in Internet development,” said the Korea Times. Elsewhere among the Korean media’s somewhat vague predictions, Chosun.com said “the case is expected to have a significant impact on the nation’s information technology and cultural businesses.” The Korea Herald said the indictment “is seen as putting a stop to trading MP3 files on the Internet.” Maybe something got lost in the translation, but that last one seems unlikely. There’s another non-MP3 parallel here that no one seems to have noticed yet: The techie Korean siblings may be the latest martyrs for the anti-copyright cause, like Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov. Chosun.com mentioned a protest site at www.freesoribada.wo, though it was down as of Grok’s deadline. Korea won’t really get its own Napster unless Soribada gets bailed out by the establishment, but it might get its own “Free Dmitry.” Related articles from The Industry Standard: Kodak Claims Victory in Photo Flap Is Napster Too Guilty for a Trial? Digital Martyr Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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