The Korea Herald


Kakao Entertainment conducts record crackdown on illegal webtoon, web novel distributors

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Feb. 20, 2024 - 15:14

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A list of content distributed on illegal distribution site Flamescans (Reddit) A list of content distributed on illegal distribution site Flamescans (Reddit)

Kakao Entertainment has deleted a record number of illegally distributed webtoons and web novels over a period of seven months, amid continued illegal dissemination of copyrighted works, online, the company said Monday.

According to the company's "4th Illegal Distribution Response White Paper" published on Monday, Kakao Entertainment deleted 208 million web novels and webtoons from June to December 2023.

Of the deleted materials, Kakao Entertainment's global anti-piracy team, "P.CoK," deleted some 7 million web novels and webtoons, and some 201 million links leading to websites that illegal distributed such content.

The amount marks a record since Kakao Entertainment began documenting its crackdown activities via publishing white papers, starting in 2022.

According to its 3rd illegal distribution response white paper, which documented Kakao Entertainment's crackdown on illegal materials from November 2022 to May 2023, the company has deleted a total of 14 million illegal links and content.

Kakao Entertainment said it has also taken legal action against overseas operators of illegal websites, to prevent further dissemination of copyrighted contents.

The company said it has currently identified the operators of two illegal webtoon distribution sites in China and submitted relevant documents to local courts. In Thailand, the company has temporarily frozen the accounts of illegal website operators and is preparing for initiating criminal lawsuits against the identified operators, it said.

"This year, we will strive to collaborate with domestic and international investigative agencies with the goal of apprehending operators, establish processes for identifying illegal site operators and fulfill our responsibility to protect copyrights -- aiming to minimize the physical and mental anguish experienced by webtoon and web novel creators due to illegal distribution," said Lee Ho-joon, the head of Kakao Entertainment's P.CoK team.

According to a survey conducted by the Korea Creative Content Agency, the market size of illegal webtoon distribution as of 2022 amounted to 721 billion won ($538 million). The figure is solely based on investigation of illegal sites that provide services in Korean, and does not include sites that provide services in languages other than Korean.

Kakao Entertainment's activities show efforts by Korean webtoon companies to combat illegal distribution of their content.

In July 2023, Naver Webtoon applied for the issuance of subpoenas to request the submission of personal information from around 360 operators of illegal sites, in a bid to halt the activities of webtoon illegal sharing sites that unlawfully posted about 80 of its webtoons.

Approximately 150 illegal webtoon sharing sites such as Aquamanga and Flamescans have been completely deleted or ceased operations within three months since the issuance of subpoenas in July, according to Naver Webtoon.