Korean Music Industry Demands Poor Quality MP3 Phones

Manufacturers like Samsung and LG are of course resistant to the idea, but the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers (KAPP) and Korean Music Copyright Association (KMCA) are demanding that new phones can only play MP3 music at low-fidelity, radio quality.

This demand is after a compromise – KAPP and KMCA originally required phones to only play MP3 files that had been purchased legally. In a market where 95% of MP3 files are said to be illegal, phone manufacturers felt that this would put consumers off.

The battle has become so embittered that Samsung has decided to delay the launch of their new MP3 Anycall handset.

Amid claims that MP3 players and pirated CDs have halved the value of the Korean music market, phone with music playback are expected to be extremely popular – there will be 150 new phones launched in Korea next year, and half the population already carry a mobile.

Yoon Seong-woo, a director of the Korea Association of Phonogram Producers said in a statement: “Our industry has been in a nose-dive since the release of MP3 players in 2000. At that time, we felt hopeless because Korean people were insensitive to copyright issues and we did not have any unified organization that could cope with the situation. Because the MP3 phone market is big enough to destroy the music industry, we’re struggling to defend it.”

It’s somewhat striking that the music industry should expect handset manufacturers to develop and sell inferior product to save their dwindling sales.

There are no currently legal download music services in Korea – surely giving consumers the option of buying music from an attractive, easy to use, reliable source would be far better? Samsung certainly think so and is looking to partner with a music site to provide a download service for its phones.

The Korea Herald on the story

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?