Midnight SunWith its roots firmly in South Korea, K-pop has since developed into a truly global phenomenon, with the incredibly popular BTS as an obvious example.

This has led to the rise of so-called ‘idols’, stars of the K-pop scene that can do everything, from singing and dancing through to modeling and acting.

Earlier this year it was revealed that several such idols including Shinee’s Onew, Got7’s Young Jae, Day 6’s Wonpil, Nu’est’s Baekho, and Lovelyz’s Kei, would be starring in the stage musical Midnight Sun.

The show is being streamed online by outlets including MetaTheater which according to its promotional material offers live streaming plus VOD services and marketing. The performance is listed on its main page as running from May 1 through to July 25 at a ‘ticket’ price of $40 but has already run into controversy.

Your Idols Are Disappointed By Piracy

This week, MetaTheater took to Twitter to air its disappointment over illegal streaming links of Midnight Sun that had reportedly been posted to Twitch, Discord and Zoom, among other platforms.

“Online musicals do not differ in nature from offline performances. They are the same creative intellectual property and hold the same value. They are the fruits of the production team’s hard work, including those of the actors, musicians, designers, engineers, and producers,” the platform wrote.

“The entire team of is aware of the situation and is very disappointed by the news.”

Midnight Sun cast

MetaTheater Issues Stark Warnings To Pirates

Knowing that their idols are disappointed in them may be enough to turn some K-pop pirates into paying customers but MetaTheater is taking no chances. Warning that it has a zero-tolerance approach to piracy, it has informed infringers that both civil and criminal actions are on the way, the latter involving one of the world’s most powerful law enforcement agencies.

“MetaTheater, along with copyright protection agencies, holds zero tolerance to illegal copying and distribution of copyright materials. Civil and criminal charges will be carried out through INTERPOL in Korea and abroad, if illegal acts of reproduction and distribution are detected,” the streaming platform warned.

“Creating and distributing links to share screens, recording & distributing performance clips are all illegal acts of reproduction and distribution.”

While this sounds serious enough, MetaTheater also took the unusual step of publishing the names of eight Twitter accounts that it claimed had breached its rights, were being reported to law enforcement, and would face civil lawsuits. Unfortunately, that led to even more controversy.

Some Twitter Users Confused

One of the targeted users immediately complained they’d done nothing wrong and expressed embarrassment that MetaTheater had exposed them in this fashion.

Then there was outrage from another, who couldn’t understand what they had done either. Reaching out to MetaTheater apparently yielded no results.

“I don’t know what to say. But I need a quick answer what I am doing wrong. I have sent dm and email since yesterday. But I didn’t get an answer. I am seriously worried that I am doing something wrong. Please reply me soon, Thank you,” they wrote as part of a long series of tweets.

Of course, it’s very simple indeed to simply state “I didn’t do anything wrong” but it appears that after the protests from these users, MetaTheater removed them from the list of names being reported to INTERPOL, posted a revised list to Twitter, and offered an explanation.

“We have received explanations/statements from some of the accounts listed on our illegal reproduction & distribution notice. We had included accounts on our list because we found evidence of illegal reproduction & distribution associated with them. Cases that provided enough counter-evidence are being reviewed again and the list has been updated accordingly,” the streaming platform wrote.

“[W]e do not wish for people to be wrongly accused. If you become listed and believe there has been a misunderstanding, please send us your proof so we may assess the matter.”

Warnings Coincide With Korea’s Funding of INTERPOL

While MetaTheater will now have to deal with the fallout from what could be oversights in publicly naming at least some of the alleged pirates, this week South Korea announced that it would indeed be funding INTERPOL to tackle online piracy via a new initiative.

“With EUR 2.7 million funding from the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, the five-year INTERPOL Stop Online Piracy (I-SOP) initiative will counter online piracy and crimes involving intellectual property rights infringement, identifying and dismantling linked illicit online marketplaces, as well as targeting the criminal networks and confiscating their assets,” their statement reads.

“The Korean National Police Agency will play an important role in collaborating with INTERPOL to build partnerships with industry, international organizations and academia.”

Whether this has any direct connection to the warnings on Twitter over Midnight Sun piracy remains a question. MetaTheater didn’t immediately respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment but given the timing, it’s likely the streaming platform is well aware of the initiative and the deterrent effect it could have on pirates.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.