The Korea Herald


K-content illegal streaming site shut down after US court ruling

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Feb. 16, 2024 - 13:48

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(Kocowa) (Kocowa)

A US court decided to shut down Kokoa TV, a streaming website which illegally streamed a slew of Korean contents to overseas streamers, while ruling in favor of Wavve Americas -- which raised a suit against the website for copyright and trademark infringement.

According to the US District Court, District of Arizona, Tumi MAX, the operator of Kokoa TV, has been ordered to cease activities such as storing, reproducing, displaying, or distributing any of the copyrighted works, as of Feb. 9.

The US court also ordered Kokoa TV to "cease all use in commerce of the mark Kocowa or any other confusingly similar mark, including but not limited to Kokoa and non-distinct variations thereof."

The decisions came as Wavve Americas, a joint partnership between SK Telecom and the three Korean broadcast networks -- Korean Broadcasting System, Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation and Seoul Broadcasting System -- raised a suit against Tumi Max in October 2023 for trademark infringement, cybersquatting, federal unfair competition and tortious interference with business expectancy.

Wavve Americas claimed that Kokoa TV was illegally distributing Korean contents, including those that were exclusively offered on streaming services such as Wavve, Netflix and Disney+.

Wavve Americas, which operates Kocowa -- a streaming platform that distributes Korean contents to overseas audiences -- also claimed that Kokoa TV used a similar name to Kocowa on purpose to direct audiences to its domain.

According to Similarweb, an online service which estimates the total amount of traffic different websites get, 77 percent of the users of Kokoa TV were from the US and Canada.

A survey published by the Korea Copyright Protection Agency in January found that in 2023, an estimated 350 million Korean works of video contents and webtoons had been posted on illegal streaming sites in various languages.

The survey also showed that Korean contents took up 15.4 percent of the total of estimated 2.26 billion postings on illegal streaming sites. The survey was conducted from Aug. 25, 2023 to Oct. 18, 2023, using data collected from 1,035 out of a total of 12,979 sample websites that were identified by the Korea Copyright Protection Agency and accessible as of August 2023.