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Korean gaming industry attempting to crack down on private servers

The Korean gaming industry has declared war against private servers and hacking program providers. As a method to not just shut down, but prosecute, the owners of various private servers, the industry is mobilizing with civilian volunteers, government branches, and the police.

Private servers have been on the Korean gaming industry’s radar for quite some time, as the owners of these servers sell items or receive payments from users of the server. Public perception of private servers are paramount to the theft of assets in the Korean gaming industry, and the estimated amount of damages to the industry by private servers was a whopping $150 million, according to multiple media outlets.

Previously, the prosecution of private server owners was difficult to pursue because, according to the Game Rating & Administration Committee, there was a “lack of clear definition of private servers and hacking programs.” With the right of arrest exclusive to police, it allowed the Committee to shut down the servers and not much else. Even when shut down requests are made to server providers (such as KT or LG U+), the private server owners simply move their servers or change the addresses, making it impossible to track.

NC Soft, a video game publisher and one of the companies that has lost revenue streams to private servers, made an official statement that shutting illegal servers down in the legal arena was a mess. Because there was no clear definition, the only way to deal with private servers was copyright law, and the police were “very conservative in prosecution due to the complicated nature of Korean copyright law.”

This mobilization of civilian, government, and police forces was put into action earlier this year, and the results have been promising, including the arrests of multiple owners of private servers. The largest bust through this alliance was made in July, as an illegal Lineage II server was shut down after making a purported $260 million, with the owners sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Lee Dong-Sup, a member of Korea’s National Assembly, has proposed an amendment “aiming to make a clear legal definition of illegal servers and hacking programs.” He said that he hopes the amendment can make prosecutions easier. Lee also mentioned that “heavier penalties” will take place based on Korea’s Game Industry Promotion Act, which empowers government and police forces in order to prevent illegal servers and the use of hacking programs.


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