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Copyleft or Copyright, Which is Right?In-depth survey of Yonseians on becoming charged of online music files
Son Min-kyung Editor  |
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승인 2004.11.30  00:00:00
트위터 페이스북 구글 카카오스토리


Editor's Note

By Kim In-youb, Reporter of Research Div.

FRANKLY SPEAKING, a few years ago, I used to be a  passionate buyer of various genres' CDs. Although my pocket money was less than my friends, I could gather two big baskets of CDs. However, I did not need to buy any CD from the moment I found out the Internet sites for free MP3 file download. It is the reality for me as well as others.          

   Nowadays, entertainment companies want to make   Internet sites, which have supplied free music to people, charged through the law. In some aspects, their copyright is regarded as a just cause. However, many people cannot understand a being charged of those sites. In this month's "Cover Story" many readers can find Yonseians' thoughts about the copyrights.

"THE ONLINE site, named 'Bugs' has used our 300 sound sources illegally for four years since 2000. They have infringed upon our copyright!" Crying out like this, the three main entertainment companies in Korea accused the online site, "Bugs."

As information-oriented society has appeared, the number of the Internet users is increasing more and more. People who use the Internet have uploaded or downloaded the music files free of charge. The more people utilize the Internet music files, the more problems about copyright occur. The controversy concerning the copyright has been one of the biggest issues in our society for about four years, but it has not been solved yet.

In this month's "Survey", The Yonsei Annals asked 1,016 Yonseians of their thoughts on being charged for downloading online music files. It was conducted on Nov. 3 through 5 at Yonsei Univ.

General thoughts on online music files

People listen to music by chance or through choices of their everyday lives. These days, there are various ways to listen to music. Generalized by degrees, the Internet has become one of the instruments to access music. To research this item, the Annals started confirming the basic points, asking How do you listen to music mostly?. More than a half of the respondents (57.5%) answered, "MP3 file download" and 17.2% answered "streaming service." Compared with this result, only 13.3% of the students replied "CD or tape." It shows how much Internet is generalized nowadays. Kong Kwang-sub (Assistant Manager of Public Relation Team in BUGS Corporation) said, "There are '6,000,000' people who visit Bugs site a day." And Kim Kye-hyung (Pres. of Dept. of Public Relation in Korean Association of Phonogram Producers) commented, "The form of consuming music has been changing rapidly from offline such as CD or cassette to online methods such as streaming, MP3 file download, and mobile. For a few years, online music will alternate with offline music."

Next, the Annals wanted to check the amount of music listened to over the Internet. So the question, How many pieces do you listen to or download by Internet in an average week? was given. 37.6% of the respondents picked "more than one piece and less than five," and 22.0% checked "more than five pieces and less than ten." This reveals that Yonseians do not listen to too much music through the Internet.


However, some major entertainment companies claim that the amount of record sales has been decreasing rapidly since people started to listen to music over the Internet. The question How have your record purchases changed since listening to music by Internet (MP3 file download or streaming service)? was asked to confirm that. For answers, "decrease sharply" was chosen by 37.8% of the students, and "decrease a little" was picked by 22.7%. Pres. Kim explained, "The way to make a record is also changing, such as publishing the new record, 'digital single.' Therefore, it is natural that the amount of record sales has decreased recently."

Regardless of the amount of record sales, it is a fact that people listen to music online (MP3 file download or streaming service) more than offline (CD or cassette) these days. To know why, the Annals asked Why do you think people listen to music through the Internet? 33.5% of Yonseians answered "to access easily." In these days, people do almost everything using the computer. It is easy for people to access the Internet, and people naturally listen to music online. It shows that the character of an information-oriented society reflects the answers. Another answer, "to be able to listen only to the music that one pleases" was chosen by 28.8%. "It is a natural change of trends, and it is necessary to enact an appropriate law and the reform of consumers' consciousness towards the copyright," Pres. Kim said.

How about demanding to be paid?

There are two kinds of ways to listen to music through the Internet. One way is streaming service and the other is MP3 file download. Streaming service is the way that plays the music or that displyas pictures on the Internet simultaneously, such as Bugs. MP3 file download is the way that people download music files through P2P programs such as Soribada on the Internet and enjoy listening to the music in both offline and online. The music files from streaming service cannot be kept, while the MP3 files downloaded can be saved to play anytime.

In December, Bugs and Soribada planned to charge their users for listening to their music. Kong explained about the process of being asked expenses like this, "There are three participants involved in making records; copyrighter, the players such as singers, and the producers. Since there are each organizations of copyrighter and players, we could come to an agreement. However, since there is no organization of producers, we could not get to the agreement. The problem about being charged arises because of that point."

Related to being charged, the Annals asked Do you agree with being charged for streaming service or MP3 file download? Less than half of the respondents (44.7%) replied "do not agree that both ways become charged," and 31.5% replied "agree that MP3 files download becomes charged." There were only 6.3% of the respondents who answered "agree that streaming service becomes charged."

Connected with the former question, two more questions were added. The Annals asked If you agree with being charged for streaming service or MP3 file download, what is the main reason? Among those who agree with being charged for streaming service or MP3 file download, more than half of the respondents (61.3%) chose "for the protection of copyright of record producers." "The copyright is an exclusive right. As the copyrighters want to become charged for online music files, the online music companies like Bugs cannot help but charge. The service of charge will be regularized from this December," Kong added.

Another question, If you do not agree with being charged for streaming service or MP3 file download, what is the main reason? Of the respondents who do not agree with being charged for streaming service or downloading MP3 files, 47.4% of Yonseians checked "because information should be exchanged and shared freely" and 26.0% replied "because people can try listening to the music in advance and decide later whether they will buy the record or not." Pres. Kim commented, "The most important thing at this point in time is that the online music files are being circulated illegally and abnormally. That is to say, consumers do not buy the music files in the online distribution structure, unlike the offline market. A desire to listen to music for free is widespread. I think that is the most serious problem above all."

As mentioned earlier, MP3 file downloads have high chances of being charged. Related to this point, the Annals asked If the MP3 file download becomes charged, how much is proper do you think? The answers, "less than ₩200" was chosen by 42.7% "more than ₩200, but less than ₩400" by 31.6%. This result shows consumer? willingness to pay lower price. But, Pres. Kim advised, "Of course, a selling price of sound source will reflect the consumers' opinions, but will not reflect them by large. Many factors including the unit cost of production of sound source should be considered when deciding the rational price."

Concerned with the price, the Annals drew another question, asking If the price for each MP3 file is more expensive than you think it should be, would you buy the genuine record? 42.0% of the students replied "yes" while 37.2% answered "no." To analyze in depth, the Annals wanted to confirm about those who replied "no." The Annals questioned, If the price for each MP3 file is more expensive than you thought, why will you not buy the genuine record? About half of the Yonseians answered "because the Internet still has the advantage of people being able to choose the music they want to listen to." Choi Seung-bum (Assistant Professor of Dept. of Mass Communication) explained, "It is the character of media products to be able to experience in advance. Consumers can preliminary know the utility value of general products without experience. It is difficult, however, for people to know the commercial value of digital products in advance without using it."

Many people have doubts that the amount of record sales will increase even if MP3 file download charges them a fee. The Annals threw the question, If MP3 file download or streaming service becomes charged, how much does it influence the amount of record sales ? 46.8% of the respondents chose "will not change" and 32.9% answered "will increase." Kong analyzed this, saying "Different from Yonseians' thoughts, the amount of record sales will decrease. The offline market will disappear in two or more years. The digital market such as mobile ring, BGM (Background Music) will be bigger than the record market now. The record market will become smaller, but the music industry will grow larger as a whole."

Even though many respondents thought the amount of record sales would not change, it would. The question, What do you expect consumers will do after becoming charged for MP3 file download or streaming service? was put. Most of the respondents (74.7%) answered "will listen to music using other Internet sites offered for free." This reflects the mental state of preferring freebies as consumers. Kong said, "It is a duty for online music marketers like Bugs not to make consumers use other Internet sites offered for free, by providing the utmost service."
Pres. Kim, however, advised Yonseians, saying, "Even if people take a matter of course to pay for offline records or cassettes, they do not want to pay anything for online music and would rather use other Internet sites for free. I think it is somewhat ironical."

General thoughts on current issues

A few months ago, some major entertainment companies charged that Bugs had infringed upon their copyright and it had used their sound sources illegally. They bar the users from listening to all the  music, but let the users listen to certain major music, in order to promote sales. It is called "Apply for temporary disposition of the entertainment companies." Related to this point, the Annals asked the question, What do you think of applying for provisional disposition of the entertainment companies? The two answers, "so-so" and "negative" had the same portion (29.6%). In addition, the respondents who replied "negative (44.4%)" were much more than those who checked "positive (20.7%)." Connected to the former question, the Annals asked If applying for temporary disposition of the entertainment companies is accepted, will you buy the prohibited records? More than half of the students (56.3%) answered "no," while only 15.5% answered "yes."



Some people claim that copyright takes precedence over others, while other people argue against them. How about Yonseians? As the last question, What is the ultimate aim of this offense and defense about MP3 file download and streaming service? was given. There were three answers, which gained similar portion. "Producing the better music of record producers" was chosen by 25.7% of the respondents, "encouraging the individuals about the recognition of copyright" was checked by 24.3%, and "adapting oneself to new circumstances" was picked by 23.8%. Pres. Kim analyzed, "It is the purpose of our copyright to contribute to the development of culture while protecting the copyright. Although the stores reflect the change of trends and development of technology, we endeavor that the sound sources be paid fairly."

Closing notes

It has been about five years since the Internet was popularized in Korea. Everything changes as time passes by. And at all times, controversies become the subject of conversation. The argument about copyright is one of them. Producers and consumers, both of them, ought to have a correct understanding of the current trends and  be ready for them.


Classfication of Respondents

Total 1016
Male ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 582
Female ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 430
Unidentified --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4

Freshman -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 435
Sophomore ------------------------------------------------------------------------- 259
Junior ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 156
Senior ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 156
Unidentified -------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10

Col. of Lib.Art, Bus.&Econ, Soc.Sci, Edu ---------------------------------------------- 567
Col. of Sci., Engin. ------------------------------------------------------------------ 328
Col. of Hum. Eco. -------------------------------------------------------------------- 39
Col. of Music ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 31
Col. of Den., Med., Nurs. ------------------------------------------------------------- 38
Col. of Theology ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 7
Unidentified --------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6


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I just read your article and it realy looks great. It is nice to read an article like yours that is based on a large survey of students and covers a topic that is very timely.
(2005-03-09 14:17:52)
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