A major web novel piracy website has been shut down as of Dec 19, 2023, following a crackdown by South Korea’s ‘Copyright Crime Scientific Investigation Team‘ of the Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism, and also the United States’ Department of Homeland Security.
While the website was based in Korea, it had several servers operating overseas. This made tracking the website a problem initially. However, with the help of Homeland Security, the IP addresses that accessed the server were traced and the operator was arrested after confirming access from a specific space in Korea.
The site, whose name was not disclosed, is believed to have illegally shared 27000 copies of Korean web novels, and earned around 340 million won in advertising revenue. According to the stats of Similar Web, the piracy website attracted 21.7 million users.
The site disguised itself as a legitimate site for web novel reviews and provided subscribers with link addresses to download cloud-stored web novels in a specific way.
This news comes days after Kakao Entertainment, a web novel publisher, had identified the perpetrators who were operating a major web novel piracy website dubbed ‘M’.
An official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism said, “Even if the operating servers are located overseas, Koreans are subject to punishment under domestic law. In addition, not only site operators but also users can be punished for violating copyright laws by posting a link address to download a work, depending on the intention or form, so it is necessary to be extremely careful“.
“We will continue to work hard to investigate so that the rapidly growing web novel and webtoon industry does not suffer from illegal distribution of works,” the Director of the Copyright Office of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said.
The web novel industry, including Kakao Entertainment, estimated the damage caused to the industry by the illegal sharing of web novels on the sites at more than 50 billion won, based on the number of subscribers and the average unit price of web novels.