Lately, there was controversy over the plagiarism of a poster between Seoul National University and Sogang University. Although copyright is a sensitive issue these days, many people are confused about the concept of copyright and purposeful or unintentional infringement. The Sogang Herald will examine the patterns of copyright infringement that occur frequently on campus and find a solution to this problem
What is Copyright?
Copyright is the exclusive rights that a creator has about one’s own work. The work includes poetry, novels, music, art, movies, computer programs, and so on. Copyright infringement is the violation, piracy, or theft of a copyright holder’s exclusive rights through unauthorized use of a copyrighted work such as reproduction, distribution, performance, or public display. It also contains transferal to a derivative work without copyright owner’s permission. According to Park Joon-woo (Prof. of Sogang Law School), the purpose of personal collection, not that of sharing, can be a copyright infringement unless a genuine purchase is made. In addition, purchasing and cloning genuine goods could violate the Copyright Act if the violator did not take steps to make sure that others could not access it.
Copyright Infringement on Campus
The Sogang Herald will address four common cases of copyright infringement that occur on campus. The four criteria were provided by Prof. Park
Lots of students record lectures in case they missed something in class. They can review the class easily and exhaustively by listening to recordings. However, lecture recording is illegal. Lectures are defined as literary works. To record a lecture, the student must ask the professor in advance, but most people record lectures without permission. Also, even if the student got permission prior to the recording, usage beyond the permitted range is copyright infringement. It is natural that recording without permission and sharing it may be a copyright infringement.
Jokbo is a collection of sample questions from previous exams. Many students make use of jokbo for efficient studying because they have to study various subjects. With jokbo, it is much easier to expect what the test will be like in advance and prepare for the test. That is why many students trade and share jokbo, and in case of Sogang, it is shared through a school community named Ssodam. Yet, sharing jokbo explicitly infringes on copyright. Jokbo is a derivative work of the professor’s lecture. Derivative work is protected as an independent work in the Copyright Act, so sharing jokbo is illegal.
Textbooks are essential for class. Students should purchase a book for each class every semester, but they get a pdf file and print it out or photocopy existing books for two reasons. The main reason they photocopy textbooks is that it is hard to buy expensive books that they will use only one semester. It is also easy to find copied textbooks sold in photocopy centers around the school, depending on the students’ needs. However, this behavior is obviously copyright infringement. Unauthorized photocopying of publications without the consent of the copyright holders constitutes a copyright infringement. Both buyers and sellers can be punished.
Online Lecture Sharing
It is common among examinees to group together for a lecture and divide the fee by the number of people who take an online lecture. Dark lecture, a video of illegally recording online lectures, is also prevalent among students. Many students are forced to share online lectures because of expensive lecture fees, even though they know doing so is illegal. But, as they know, sharing online lecture is undoubtedly a copyright infringement. This is because the lecture was used beyond the range permitted by the online lecture company who has the copyright of the lecture.
Cause of Copyright Infringement
People infringe on copyright because they are not aware of copyright. They may not know whether their actions are copyright infringement. According to the survey about online content usage of undergraduates conducted by mobile app Everytime in 2017, 49% of the respondents said that they use illegally shared contents when watching movies and TV. This lack of copyright awareness could lead to copyright infringement on campus. Occasionally, these behaviors are overlooked in campus. Copied textbooks are sold in photocopy centers around campus overtly, and professors often recommend their students to photocopy textbook. Some students do not consider their behaviors as an illegal act because in case of jokbo or lecture recording, some professors does not want any punishment or sanctions.
Even though some know that these actions are copyright infringements, they infringe on copyright for practical reasons. Expensive online lecture fees and book prices are burdensome for students. The fee of online lectures is from at least 200,000 won to 500,000 won per class. Since examinees take more than one course usually, the total fees can be great pressure to one student. Besides, students spend 94,000₩ in one semester for a textbook on average, according to the survey about usage status of the major book conducted by univ20s lab in 2015. This is about 20% of the average living expenses for undergraduates, which is demanding for them. Besides financial reasons, others infringe on copyrights to win the grades competition. As employment becomes more difficult, grades competition among students becomes more fierce. Students who do not see jokbo are more likely to perform poorly than those who see jokbo in the class with the standardized exam type. For this reason, jokbo becomes an indispensable means to many students and they infringe on copyright wittingly.
|▲ ⓒ 2015. 대학내일20대연구소 all rights reservedThe amount and cost of purchases of major books per person in 2015|
Sogang seeks to solve such problems by discounting book prices in partnership with Kyobo Gangnam, Gwanghwamun, and Hapjeong branches, but this cannot be the complete and fundamental solution. It is difficult to find measures against frequent cases of copyright infringement on the campus. Prof. Park also expressed his opinion that there would be no satisfactory solution for now.
Solution: The Efforts of All of Us
To solve copyright infringement problems on campus, not only university administration but also students themselves should make great efforts. Above all, the administration should introduce a system for students. For example, there is a system that sets and manages exam questions in the library only if the professor agrees. But professor Park insists that the solutions be basic and fundamental. He said, “When you actively take part in classes, prepare and review classes thoroughly, and ask questions about uncertainties, you do not have to use jokbo or recording.” He added that to do so, a class atmosphere must be created where students can ask questions freely. “Many professors have an obsession that they should give the ‘right answer’ to their students ‘immediately,’ so they avoid the questions. However, there are no right answers in class. Moreover, it is more important for students to make them learn by themselves and for professors to complement what their lectures might be lacking through taking questions.” In other words, he accentuates the atmosphere of free communication between the lecturer and the students. There are practical solutions as well. The Big Book Movement is a movement that the authors voluntarily donate intellectual property rights to distribute textbooks for free. The purpose of the project is to reduce the burden on students’ textbook prices by writing and using them in classes and distributing them free for charge. Currently, the movement focuses on foundation studies and provides free access to textbooks, easing the financial burden on students.
|▲ Website of BigBook Movement|
Students also need to cultivate copyright awareness on their own and try to practice it directly. There are autonomous efforts to eradicate copyright infringement on campus and reduce the high cost of textbooks among students. For example, students of Korea University College of Engineering make developed Chaek It, a mobile application for second-hand books only for Korea students. This app can help enlarge not only used book sales and purchasing platforms in college but also healthier copyright awareness in college. Of course, it is difficult to abandon the immediate comfort and interests in order to protect copyright. However, it is time to shift perception. Copyright observation is profit to us, not a loss. The more we observe copyright, the more superior quality of works will come out. Copyright observation is a way to respect the effort and due right of creators. Campus can be a field of proper awareness of copyright. From campus to out-campus, healthy circumstances that everyone observes copyright must spread. For that, we will have to endure current difficulties and constantly strive to protect our copyright.
 Definition of copyright is from Korea copyright commission
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