By Jane Han
CJ Entertainment, the distributor of South Korea's hit vampire film "Thirst"
, moved quickly to control the damage after the movie was leaked online earlier this week. But by publicizing the illegal activity, the company only exacerbated the situation.
The financial loss of the latest leak hasn't been assessed yet, but Internet experts and file-sharing analysts say damages could have been minimized if the distributor had simply kept quiet until the illegal copies floating online had been deleted.
"More people found out about the pirate release after CJ kindly made the leak official", said Woo Ji-soo, an official of a local web security service provider. "It is important for such a piracy case to be resolved quickly, but also quietly".
According to 10 different domestic file-sharing sites, 8,000 copies of the movie were downloaded on Nov. 9, but the number climbed to 24,000 after the distributor admitted that the file was pirated.
Experts say the Internet circulation speed was fast for "Thirst"
since the film - which tells the story of a priest-turned-vampire struggling with his desire for blood - had been heavily spotlighted for clinching the Jury prize at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May.
The latest incident isn't the first time CJ's premature announcement ended up attracting more illegal downloaders.
Less than two months ago, blockbuster "Haeundae"
- also distributed by CJ Entertainment - was illegally spread over the Internet, resulting in damages totaling more than 30 billion won ($25.5 million).
The company worked closely in conjunction with police to track down the people who originally uploaded the pirated copies online. But critics pointed out that the investigation was made too public, drawing more users to download the leaked version.
CJ officials, however, said that they had a reason for making the announcement.
"We wanted to alert Internet users so that they would refrain from uploading and downloading the illegal copies", said a company official.
CJ requested police to launch an investigation to track down who uploaded the Park Chan-wook
film on the Internet just days ahead of its official DVD release in the United States. The distributor has also asked local file-sharing sites to help prevent the pirated copies from further circulating.
Kim Joon-ho, an official of a local online storage site, says online piracy emerges as a serious problem only when a major leakage happens, calling for industry-wide efforts to work out systematic preventive measures.