North Korea’s ruling party organ on Sunday called on officials and workers to ensure the “complete establishment” of copyright rules in the country, in a bid to encourage the production of high-quality works of art and literature amid the development of the country’s “knowledge economy.”
The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), said the “primary purpose” of copyright protection is to “protect the legitimate interests of authors writing and creating valuable intellectual property.”
Another goal is to “promote social progress and cultural development through the seamless utilization of created works,” it said.
“If the rights of copyright holders aren’t guaranteed, it will discourage their enthusiasm for writing and creation and will, by extension, hamper the development of the country’s science and education, literary arts among others,” the newspaper said.
The basic principle of the copyright protection system is to “ensure the balance between the profit of authors and overall society,” it added.
“All workers and officials should ensure the complete establishment of a copyright protection system, in accordance with the demand of the knowledge economy,” the Rodong said.
“They must also actively contribute to enhancing the people’s ideas and awareness and increasing the standard of cultural life by encouraging the production and creation of excellent works.”
In the article, the Rodong provided a basic explanation of the concept copyright, as well as works that can be protected, saying any citizen can own the copyright regardless of gender, age, and profession.
This is not the first time that the DPRK state-run media made has mention of copyright and intellectual property, however, though no previous coverage has gone into quite so much detail about the rights of authors and the need for the country to protect them.
January saw the Rodong carry an article laying out the characteristics of intellectual property rights written by Kim Il Sung University College of Law researcher Kim Chol Ung.
In another article, the North Korean newspaper in early January urged the country to ensure the protection of intellectual property rights “at the earliest possible date” in the context of the ruling party’s plans to “build an economic power.”
The Rodong said the interest of the country and the entire society should be prioritized, while “ensuring the interests of inventors and creators to the maximum.”
The duties and responsibilities of the organizations in charge of managing intellectual property rights “must be clearly designated and strictly supervised,” it added.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long emphasized the goal of “building a knowledge-based economic power” — laying out plans in an April 2012 meeting with the Party’s senior officials.
“The North Korean government is interested in and serious about the knowledge economy and building institutions that facilitate its growth inside the country,” Peter Ward, a writer and researcher on the North Korean economy, told NK News.
“The protection of intellectual property is widely considered to be important in this regard, hence why the Rodong Sinmun published an article about copyright.”
In April 2017, Kim Il Sung University announced that it set up an intellectual property organization in charge of managing “various forms of works created by professors, teachers, Ph.D. candidates and students in a comprehensive and unified manner.”
The administration has since registered many designs, including the trademarks of the Pyongyang Hosiery Factory and the Wonsan Shoes Factory at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) of United Nations (UN).
The outlet reported that “18,000 industrial designs were created for over 400 objects” over the past few years.
Pyongyang joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1974, and the Geneva Act (1999) of the Hague Agreement, which regulates international patents, entered into force on September 13 2016 in the DPRK.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)
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