SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- The operators of a South Korean pirate website have been ordered to pay compensation to around 50 online comics creators for using their works without permission, judicial sources said Friday.
The Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of the creators in the damages lawsuit they filed in October 2019 against the pirate website named Bamtoki. The court ordered its three operators to pay between 1.5 million won (US$1,366) and 6 million won to each plaintiff.
Bamtoki was one of the largest illegal distributors of online comics, or so-called webtoons. It was shut down in July 2018, along with 10 other illegal content sharing sites.
The court said the defendants violated the authors' rights to reproduce and publicly share their works by unlawfully uploading them on the pirate website and allowing visitors to read them for free.
The defendants argued that no damage has been done to the authors since exclusive publication rights of the webtoons belong to the portal operators, such as Naver Corp. and Lezhin Entertainment, not the authors.
The court, however, dismissed their claim, saying that the authors suffered financial damage under their profit distribution contracts with the portal companies.
The plaintiffs had originally sought reparations of 10 million won each, but the court said compensation of 3 million won per comic and 1.5 million won in the case of a joint production were deemed adequate.
In a separate case, Bamtoki was ordered to compensate webtoon platforms some 2 billion won for stealing content from them.