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Online storage companies have no duty to prevent illegal uploads: court

Companies that provide online file storage services bear limited responsibility for preventing the distribution of pirated videos, a South Korean court said Monday.


The Seoul Central District Court ruled against a Korean company that sued a cyberlocker service provider on behalf of 12 Japanese producers and distributors of adult videos. The plaintiff argued that the online storage company had aided and abetted the illegal uploading and downloading of the videos, thereby violating the owners’ copyrights.

The court acknowledged that users of the cyberlocker service had violated the Japanese production companies’ copyrights. It said while rights to distribute and sell online materials can be restricted, copyright holders have no right to demand that service providers prevent users from uploading their materials in the first place.

Furthermore, the court said it did not find the online storage company to have aided or abetted copyright violations by its users.

The South Korean copyright law states that cyberlocker sites have limited responsibility and are required to take action only upon the copyright holders’ request.

The court said it could not rule that the online storage company had failed to fulfill this duty.

Over the past five years, the accused company had deleted more than 260,000 videos and prohibited some 390,000 words and 950,000 hash values, which, according to the court, shows the company had taken action to protect the rights of copyright holders.

The court further stated that online storage companies cannot be forced to adopt web filtering technology, which would proactively assess videos and prevent users from uploading them, at their own expense.

By Choi Ji-won (