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Intellectual Property and Ripping Shit Off in Korea

August 1, 2013


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Ok, so this is a bit of a random topic, but it’s something we feel is worth talking about. It doesn’t have a lot of practical info for you if you’re coming to visit Korea. Not like you need to know what things to pack and, also, worry about your copyrights, but it’s a topic we’re somewhat passionate about, since it’s one that affects us. Korean businesses rip off a lot of other people’s shit, and that freaking sucks. We talked about a couple of stories today in which we were affected, but there are others, some of which we had to settle out of court, that we won’t be talking about here.

The legal jargon of copyrights and intellectual properties is something that’s beyond us. I’m sure there’s a lot of legality to the issue that we just don’t have the knowledge to speak about, and I’m sure some people who are lawyers in Korea will be able to say in so many words that it’s not copyright infringement if blankity blank blank fart blank. Or, who knows: maybe there are some laws about international intellectual property here in Korea that allow for Angelina Jolie bars to run. Or maybe Angelina Jolie was like “yeah! I’d love to have my pics all over a bar in Bucheon” Who knows. All we can really comment on is our experiences and how we perceive the situations around us.

At the same time, I remember reading a while ago that a tech company, namely SpaceX, won’t patent its intellectual property, simply because China would just use that as a recipe book. Great metaphor, really, and basically gives us the impression that we have here. Ideas from other countries can be ripped off, and there isn’t really much that can be done to stop it.

Side note: I know some of you know what company we were referring to that took a lot of our footage after we refused to be on the show. Buuut, notice how we didn’t name them? Why, you might ask? Defamation laws! Korea’s got some bizarre laws in which you can’t publicly say bad things about people, even if those things are freaking goddamned 100% true. We have close friends of ours who recently got fired from their schools wrongfully, and assaulted by the school’s owner as well, but they can’t go public with that on the internet because they’d get sued for defamation. I’m sure that there’s more subtlety and variation to the law, but we’re not familiar enough with it. All we know is that it’s damning enough to be afraid of speaking out publicly. And, seeing how this is a big company that we’re talking about, and we’re just petty foreigners with little protection here, we’re going to be as vague as possible. Yep.

Anyhow, you heard us also mention in the video the idea not only that we didn’t want to be in that major network’s video, but also the reason WHY we didn’t want to be there, which we just touched on a bit. Basically, we get contacted from time to time from TV shows who want us to play the role of the fun foreign couple who comes to Korea and is amazed by everything. “Oh! The food is so spicy but so delicious! We did not know your country makes such great food! Wow! And it is good for your health too! This country amazes me so much!” What’s bizarre about these shows is that they’re on Korean channels, spoken by Korean hosts, subtitled in Korean (or, they even want us to say these things in Korean), and aired for a Korean audience. What purpose do these shows serve, apart from feeding the audience’s sense of nationalism and pride? It’s not educational. It’s not meant for other countries to watch. It’s ego-stroking, really. We agreed to do those shows before we really knew what they were like and the message they conveyed, but now we’re not interested in doing them. Does that mean that we refuse all shows? No. There’s another major network we’ve been speaking with who have suggested a cool concept for a show, which we’re totally down for, and which doesn’t reek of nationalism.

And, sure, I know some people will say that the nature of those shows we’re against is essentially what we do with our videos as well: we’re showing the world the awesomeness of Korea. But there’s a difference, I think. We can talk about things that are annoying. We can say what we think is wrong. Sure, whenever we do say something negative it’ll come at the cost of getting nationalist netizens demanding our deportation, but we’re at least trying to come at Korea with a grain of salt. We’re more interested in sharing our stories, rather than spreading a message of Korea’s supremity. We’ll do the same no matter what country we’re in.

Ok, this got a bit heated. Sorry for ranting. This TV show thing annoyed us, and what better place to talk about it than here? You guise are cool people with whom we can discuss these things rationally. You commenting Nasties are legit :D We’re more than ok with talking about any of the points here, about copyrights and intellectual property and trying to get a better understanding of Korea’s stance on it, or even about our positions on different kinds of Korean TV shows with foreigners. Let us know what you think.

Oh, and lastly, if you like this video and want more like em, click on this button below to let us know. It’s definitely worth the energy it takes to click the button :D



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