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Korea: Webtoon publishers join forces to take action against illegal online piracy

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In an effort to protect copyrights and digital content, major South Korean webtoon publishers have formed a union to fight against illegal online piracy.

Web cartoons, widely known as webtoons or webcomics, are digital comic books created to fit into web or mobile platforms. South Korea is the birthplace of webtoons, with its webtoon market valued at one trillion won ($874 million). South Korean digital comic books are popular in East Asia.

Six webtoon publishers -- Naver Webtoon, Kakao Page, Lezhin Entertainment, Ridi Corp, Topco and Toomics -- said in a joint statement on October 15 that they created a union to counteract against illegally distributed webtoon content.

Currently, webtoon publishers provide free or paid content. Readers are provided with free episodes that are updated weekly, but they should pay to gain access to new episodes. Piracy services make a profit from advertisements posted on their websites. Some webtoon pirates demand subscription fees for full access to pirated content. According to Webtoon Guide, a webtoon market research firm, there are 258 online webtoon content pirates in operation.

The webtoon content union said that it monitors 77 online piracy services to collect evidence of copyright breach and take legal action. The union said that it would raise awareness on pirated content among webtoon readers.

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