Document Type

Book Chapter


In South Korea law and policy on intellectual property (IP) has been entirely subordinated to international agreements and the interests of domestic IP holders. Since the mid-1990s the Korean government has affiliated with international intellectual property institutions and has been rapidly incorporated into a worldwide IP system that aims to monopolize the nonmaterial resources of the knowledge society. South Korea became a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) in 1995, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1996, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty in 2004. Heedless of the communicative needs of its citizens to share freely all kinds of material and immaterial assets, the Korean government has sought to gain a share in the new imperial power of global capital. The wholesale subordination of the Korean government to the international IP system is at odds with the public's interest in free cultural expression. Vastly expanding citizens' liability for copyright infringement and the privatization of the public domain has produced a general chilling effect on citizens' rights, such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. The Korean IP regime, thus, has alienated the public's rights to intellectual assets, which are essential to a democratic society.