South Korean authorities have dramatically stepped up seizures of illegal DVDs, CDs and videocassettes during a 100-day crackdown on local piracy.

In the first week of the crackdown, which started April 7, police confiscated 26,443 units of illegal materials, compared to 77,126 units seized in all of 2007. The crackdown is a joint effort by local police and the Copyright Protection Center (CPC), an independent body run by the Korea Federation of Copyright Organizations charged with protecting IP.

“We think this is a significant change in enforcement,” CPC president Chung Hong-taek tells Billboard.biz. “We hope that it will lead to a change in the piracy environment in Korea.”

South Korea has long had major online and offline piracy problems for all media -- not just music and movies, but also computer games, books and more.

Widespread high-speed Internet access in South Korea has contributed to a plunge in physical music sales from 338.9 billion won ($337.2 million) in 2000 to 92.8 billion won ($92.4 million) in 2006, according to local labels body the Music Industry Association of Korea. Figures for 2007 are not yet available.

In the United States Trade Representative’s most recent 301 Report, issued April 25, South Korea was once again placed on the Watch List of countries with poor intellectual-property protection records.

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