North Korean Study Confirms It: People Will Share, Whatever The Risks
from the fact-of-life dept
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how the ever-increasing storage capacity of portable hard drives made it unlikely that the sharing of music could ever be stopped. That was a somewhat theoretical piece based on general trends in technology; but here’s some supporting data from a rather unusual source: North Korea (aka the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” – DPRK).
It comes in the form of an extensive study entitled “A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment” (pdf). It’s long but really worth reading for the insights it gives into a world that has been almost entirely hidden from the West for half a century. Rather surprisingly, it shows the impact that the physical sharing of pirated materials from South Korea and elsewhere is having on the once isolated nation. As TorrentFreak puts it:
With Internet unavailable to all but a tiny percentage of the elite, citizens of North Korea are obtaining their information through other means, notably file-sharing devices such as DVDs, MP3 and MP4 players, and USB drives.
The vast majority of those music and video players are owned by young people:
“About 70-80 percent of people that have MP3/4 players are young people,” a 44-year-old male who left DPRK in 2010 reports. “When you do a crackdown of MP3/4 players among high school and university students, you see that 100 percent of them have South Korean music.”
That’s significant because the penalties for anyone caught with forbidden music and videos are severe: months or even years in a North Korean prison camp. TorrentFreak makes the obvious connection:
despite the massive risks, young people in the DPRK are apparently prepared to defy the regime by consuming unauthorized media anyway, something they have in common with the US youth who share files in the face of $150,000 statutory damages.
That explains why the copyright industries’ current approach to enforcement isn’t working, and — more importantly — why it will never work, no matter how harsh the penalties become. Whatever the risks, people will carry on sharing.