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South Korea extends copyright term from 50 to 70 years

For some years now, we have seen the term of copyright protection extended in country after country. The latest to join this move has been South Korea, where the "copyright period for royalty payments will be extended to 70 years from the current 50 years after the original copyright holder dies, as a step to meet the requirements of the 'provisional' free trade agreement (FTA) between South Korea and the United States link here."

It is probably the case that few in South Korea opposed the copyright change, though publishers have complained about increased cost and complexity. To buy them off, the government has promised 160 billion won ($173 million) in aid. There remains considerable opposition to the overall FTA as a surrender of Korean sovereignty and a loss of competitiveness against the economic giant of the West. The strongest opposition is generated by farm groups who do not want to give up protection for their high priced farm sector.

Passage of the FTA remains problematic in both the US Congress and the Korean National Assembly. It will be interesting to see how the just elected conservative Grand National Party presidential candidate, Lee Myung Bak, handles the matter; he is generally thought to be pro-business and was elected on a pledge to get the economy growing faster. If the FTA is not approved, it is unclear whether the copyright extension will remain.


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