[Statement] Fair Rights of MP3 Phone Users Should Not Be Compromised!
The Ministry of Information and Communication and also the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have provided an arbitration proposal regarding the expanded use of mobile phones which now includes playing music from MP3 files. The free MP3 files are played with an MP3 player facility on the phones (MP3 phones) and have now become a social issue. As it stands now, the proposal made by the government seriously violates the right of users and should be immediately withdrawn. Furthermore, any counterproposal must be revised to provide assurance of users’ rights.
The government’s current proposal has provided for copyright protection of unequipped MP3 files and to lower the quality of sound to 64kbps. This is the same as telephone conversation. Also included is a restriction measure on these same files which would only allow for them to be played for a certain time period. However, such stringent measures as restricting the quality of sound or period of time to be played potentially places a tremendous burden on the user which in turn violates the users’ fair rights.
For example, one can compose music and play it as an MP3 file or convert music from a purchased CD into MP3 files. MP3 files are also used to listen to different types of work other than music such as foreign language study programs. These situations are not applicable to copyright infringements as emphasized by the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers (KAPP) and therefore the so-called measure to protect copyright is not a legitimate basis and again, will violate the fair rights of users.
Furthermore, the claim is made that sharing MP3 music files for personal use and non-profit purposes must be acknowledged as a fair right of users. That is, even for music files of organizations such as KAPP which have the copyright, sharing such files should be excluded from violation of copyright property law if for personal and noncommercial use only. It is understood that copyright law is not only to protect the exclusive right of copyright owners but also to promote the assimilation of knowledge and to secure fair access.
Once more, the government’s proposal is merely indicative of a measure to further protect commercial interests between copyright organizations and mobile communication companies. It does not consider the opinion of users or demonstrate an appreciation of their fair rights. Even though we are technologically capable of producing mobile phones with an MP3 player which supports a legitimate use of MP3 files, cooperation among companies could unfairly restrict the users’ decision-making power. Therefore, if the government’s current proposal leads to an agreement, it may very well result in unfair cooperation against the regulation of monopoly restriction and fair trade. Moreover, the government would not be able to avoid criticism that it advised collaboration between companies against the public’s best interest. The government must recognize there are many mobile phone users’ who are furious about this current proposal.
We believe public opinion which includes users is mandatory in order to resolve this MP3 phone usage issue. Should the government act to reach an agreement in cohesion with corporations and without considering the rights of users, every measure will be taken to express our opinion regarding such a decision. This shall include lodging a formal complaint to the Fair Trade Commission. Again, we insist the arbitration proposal of the government must be immediately withdrawn and an agreement that protects the fair rights of users must be achieved.
May 24, 2004
Citizen's Action Network
Korean Progressive Network ‘Jinbonet’