For South Korean university student Seong-sun, accessing peer-to-peer video services is a daily norm. His laptop is his entertainment gateway, allowing him to access to a dizzying array of pirated TV shows and movies distributed via the Internet.
Seong-sun pays a small subscription fee to an Internet service that allows him to download thousands of movies, including Hollywood films not yet released in South Korea.
He can also receive TV shows such as American Idol, complete with Korean subtitles, less than 24 hours after airing.
Lax enforcement of copyright laws, as well as the pervasive availability of high speed broadband in South Korea, fuels the popularity of these services. In fact:
User-generated content sites such as "ipop" have clubs where users can pay by the download or pony up monthly subscription fees of about 10,000 won to 20,000 won ($11 to $22) that will let them tap into a huge library of U.S., Japanese, Chinese, and Korean TV programming and movies.
On the possibility of getting into a legal tangle, Seong-sun said, "So many people do this that I'm not scared of getting caught. Everyone else thinks the same thing, too."Despite South Korea stepping up penalties for those who violate copyright by downloading pirated materials this year, media specialists see the trend accelerating. They say that it is fueled in part by the availability of even faster download speeds to laptops and mobile phones.
Some food for thought here: Is high speed broadband necessarily a good thing?
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.