About the Author
JH Ahn was an NK News contributor based in Seoul. He previously worked as an interpreter for United States Forces Korea.
A North Korean state run news outlet is using a prominent desktop wallpaper from Apple’s Mac operating system as a backdrop for its daily news packages, an analysis of their videos shows.
Uriminzokkiri, or “Our Nation By Itself,” has since 2010 distributed North Korean video news segments through a Youtube channel and its China-based website, mainly repackaging existing domestic propaganda for an international Korean audience.
But the user of a South Korea bulletin board last week noticed similarities between one of Apple’s main desktop wallpapers and the backdrop image used when Uriminzokkiri’s North Korean news anchors present the daily news.
“I knew I saw that wall paper from somewhere else,” said the user, after finding out that the backdrop in Uriminzokkiri’s news report was identical to the wall paper from Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.
According to Uriminzokkiri’s Youtube video list, North Korea may have been using Apple’s wallpaper since as early as May 17, 2015.
When aligned in photo editing software, Uriminzokkiri’s backdrop perfectly matched the Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger’s wall paper, with it appearing that North Korean video producers changed the angle and edited the size of the wallpaper for their own use.
Precedence suggests it is unlikely that the California-based Apple Inc. provided authorization to North Korean video producers at Uriminzokkiri to use the Mac desktop wallpaper in this way. Apple’s South Korean office did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
The use of the desktop wallpaper is not North Korea’s first time using Western-produced imagery and graphics without the consent of original producer.
In February 2013, North Korea uploaded a three and half minute propaganda video on Youtube, starring a North Korean man dreaming of his nation becoming a nuclear power state. In the video, a burning New York is shown as the result of a North Korean attack, but it quickly emerged the video footage was taken from video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
That particular North Korean video was quickly removed from Youtube, with many Call of Duty fans reporting the video for violating copyright.
“Practically, there will be nothing much Apple can do against Uriminzzokkiri,” Han Myung-seop, a North Korean copyright law researcher in North Korean Law Center told NK News on Thursday. “North Korea does have its own copyright law, but in real practice it would not work the way we expect it to.”
Han said North Korea first enacted the copyright law in 2001, and later added and updated some articles in 2006.
“They are certainly aware of the concept of copyright law. A few years ago, South Korean law scholars published a book explaining the law structures of North Korea. Later, North Korea complained that South Korean scholars were using their intellectual properties for profit making purpose. They claimed that their law is also part of their nation’s intellectual property.”
Han added that even if Apple or the United States government were to ever sue North Korea in an international court, there would be no practical way to enforce potential compensation for Apple.
“Uriminzzokkiri is not a private company; it is North Korean state owned propaganda media arm. So most likely, North Korea would not do anything as the enforcer of the law is equal to the violator of the law in this case,” said Han.
*Main image from Uriminzzokkiri