On April 14, “Noonoo TV,” which is a website that provides an illegal video streaming service, was closed down. However, if users search Noonoo TV on Google, there are still many other similar illegal websites. Websites that unlawfully share copyrighted contents have always existed, but it is hard to find one as widely known as Noonoo TV. In this article readers will explore the problems of illegally sharing websites, countermeasures, and the desired ethical awareness of copyright that people should have.
First, as mentioned before, ▲Websites that illegally provide streaming services such as dramas and movies provided by legitimate OTT platforms (Netflix, Watcha) for free is typical. The websites attract users by gathering and uploading videos provided by various OTT platforms to their websites. ▲Also, if a person wants to watch a sports match online, he or she has to register for membership and pay for the service. However, some of the illegal private gambling websites provide sports live game streaming services for free.
The biggest problem with these illegal streaming websites is that the companies that provide OTT services for a fee are negatively affected. Illegal streaming websites are combining and providing videos provided by various OTT platforms such as Netflix and Watcha. This naturally makes users who have paid for and used various OTT services think “These services can be used for free, and I do not have any reason to pay for various OTT services.” Relevant data has been submitted by the Ministry of Science and ICT on April 14. Park Wan-joo, a member of the Science, ICT, Broadcasting, and Communications Committee, stated that since October 2021, the average number of Noonoo TV users is 856,724 people per day and the total number of users had reached approximately 84 million people, and the amount of damage caused by copyright infringement is estimated to be about five trillion KRW. This is about half of Netflix’s sales of 8.26 billion USD (10.75 trillion KRW) in the first quarter of 2023, which shows the damage to the OTT market caused by Noonoo TV. In addition, on April 25, Mobile Index, which is a mobile big data platform, announced that the number of domestic OTT users has increased due to the end of Noonoo TV. On April 14, when Noonoo TV was closed, users of Netflix in Korea increased 6.7% from 2.43 million on the previous day to 2.59 million, and TVing increased 5% from 1.11 million on the previous day to 1.16 million.
Another problem is that illegal streaming websites make money from banner advertisements related to illegal casino/sports/game gambling companies, not advertisements provided by portal websites such as Google and Naver. Due to this, users can face the risk of illegal gambling, and teenagers may be exposed to violent media and gambling. Furthermore, some of these websites require personal information from users such as e-mail address or phone numbers when signing up for membership, which can cause serious problems in case the users’ personal information is leaked by accident on sold to interested parties.
Moreover, it is difficult to investigate and impose sanctions because most of the illegal streaming websites operate servers overseas. In the case of Noonoo TV, the address of the website was initially changed to Paraguay and then to the Dominican Republic, and in the case of KNU TV, which was closed on May 2, the location of the server was identified as Hong Kong. However, even if one of the illegal streaming websites is closed, similar websites have appeared, so it is difficult to impose practical sanctions. Noonoo TV closed on April 14, but if people search for words such as “Noonoo TV replacement” or “free Netflix website” on Google, people can still check various websites that provide illegal streaming services.
Despite these problems, some people’s reactions to the close of Noonoo TV are not quite positive. In a comment written in a warning article about Noonoo TV someone wrote, “I learned about the existence of Noonoo TV through this article. Thank you for advertising the website, I can save my money.” Even, Newnoo TV has appeared to pray on Noonoo TV. One of the students of the School of Business in CBNU, who used Noonoo TV said, “In the existing OTT services, there were cases where I had to pay several platforms because all the websites with the contents I wanted to watch were separate. For example, there were Marvel movies on Netflix in the past, but when Disney Plus appeared, the movies were deleted from Netflix and uploaded to Disney Plus. Of course, I know that Noonoo TV is illegal with copyright infringements, but I have used Noonoo TV for economic reasons.”
In this regard, Lee Ga-jin, an administrative officer of the copyright protection department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said, “The department is discussing ways to improve the overall response tasks such as the investigation and monitoring of illegal distribution of content, including Noonoo TV. The result of the discussion will be announced as a comprehensive measure in June. Recently, copyright recognition in our society has improved a lot compared to the past, but the development of digital technology has made it easier for users to access illegal content. We are planning a large-scale promotion so that people who use content illegally, or without permission, will feel ashamed. Related information will be included in the comprehensive measures to eradicate illegal distribution of K-content to be announced in June.” This CBT reporter hopes that readers will have an ethical awareness of copyright and right cultural consumption by reading this article.