In July, South Korea’s Naver Webtoon applied in the US court subpoenas under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to acquire the personal information of 360+ websites that were unauthorizedly posting webtoons in the US. These illegal websites receive around .5 billion visits per year.
“It is estimated that most of the operators of illegal webtoon sites have stopped their activities due to the burden of submitting personal information,” a Naver Webtoon source said.
Recently, after obtaining site operators’ personal details from Cloudflare, around 150 sites were subsequently shut down. The alleged infringers were unauthorizedly posting 80+ webtoons in the US. This data is eye-catching given that, most of the time, Cloudflare has little useful information to pass on.
Following are the key statements made by Naver Webtoon in this context:
- After three months of hard work, Naver Webtoon has successfully halted the activities of about 150 overseas illegal sites. This is the result of Naver Webtoon’s action to issue a ‘Subpoena’ through a US court, which is the first in the webtoon landscape.
- Personal information of illegal site operators, such as address, email, and payment details, is critical for tracking and arrest. Subpoenas also discourage the activities of illegal site operators.
- As per the traffic statistics website ‘Similar Web,’ the annual user traffic to about 150 unlawful sites affected by Naver Webtoon’s action is nearly 2.5 billion, which is huge.
- Naver Webtoon will pass on the information on illegal site operators to investigative agencies and respond with a strict zero-tolerance policy.
SimilarWeb findings reveal a site getting considerable traffic – 61 million visits in September, up from 52.6 million in July.
Image credit: Torrentfreak
The growing illegal distribution of original webtoons has long remained a headache for major platforms like Naver Webtoon. According to the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), the size of the webtoon market for pirated digital comics at 842.7 billion won in 2021. In making efforts to stop unauthorized content distribution, Korea’s Naver Webtoon and Kakao Entertainment have been making continuous efforts in recent years.
In 2017, Naver Webtoon introduced “Toon Radar,” artificial intelligence-based technology that is trained to automatically monitor illegal websites in real-time. Since 2019, the program has been using machine learning to analyze online piracy patterns and detect suspicious user activities. The company announced that it has protected up to 300 billion won of copyrighted content every year using its AI technology.
Similarly, in November 2021, Kakao Entertainment established a piracy task force to prevent billions of won’s worth of damage to the legal webtoon industry, becoming the first in the industry to take this initiative.
Piracy is a major concern in the webtoon industry. However, the efforts made by webtoon giants are also making considerable efforts.