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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
South Korean 'Napster' under pressure
US moves against Napster are being watched in South Korea
Soribada, South Korea's equivalent to music file-swapping site Napster, has run into legal trouble.

State prosecutors issued charges against the company on Sunday after complaints from South Korea's four main record companies.

The record companies say the site has encouraged music piracy by allowing free downloads of MP3 music files.

Soribada was founded by 26-year-old computer engineer Yang Chung-hwan and was launched in May 2000.

It is said to have some five million users.

Verbal request

The Recording Industry Association of Korea (RIAK) began legal action against Soribada in January 2001.

Lee Chang-ju, a copyright expert from RIAK, said an earlier verbal request to stop the transfer of copyrighted music went unheeded, according to a report in the Korean Times.

Mr Lee told the newspaper: "Following the US court's decision to stop Napster's file sharing services, the legal interpretation of digital music swapping service is quite clear."

But officials have said the site can not be closed until after a final court ruling is made.

Earlier this year the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) cautioned against trying to shut down the service.

A KOCMA representative told the Korean Times: "The reality is that even after shutting down Soribada, 'netizens' would not stop searching for other ways to download audio files.

"We acknowledge the change in business in the era of the internet.

"So, we see no point in forcing Soribada to shut down,'' said the representative.

See also:

06 Aug 01 | New Media
Online music bill 'meets disapproval'
31 Jul 01 | New Media
Negotiators join web royalty row
24 Jul 01 | New Media
AOL launches online music services
24 Jul 01 | New Media
New boss for Napster
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