What happens to all this culture when the largest archive of K-pop live streams goes offline?

of the vanishing culture dept

When people talk about culture and its preservation, they usually mean the works of recognized artistic giants like Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, Charlie Chaplin and Miles Davis. They rarely mean things like live streams of Korean pop music, commonly known as K-pop. And yet, K-pop is undoubtedly an expression – some would say a particularly vivid expression – of a distinctively modern culture. It’s also copyrighted, which poses problems, as this story on Mashable reveals:

On Monday, October 31, South Korean live streaming app V Live informed users that it will be shutting down on December 31, 2022. The closure comes as no surprise — in March HYBE, owner of rival app Weverse, announced it had acquired V Live and intends to shut down the app — but it’s bummer for artists and fans alike. V Live is the largest archive of live streamed K-Pop content ever. Where will this content live on when the app goes dark?

Owned by Naver, V Live was launched in 2015 as a tool for Korean artists to connect with fans. They did this primarily via live streams, which were then saved as on-demand videos in the app. As K-pop grew in popularity around the world, V Live connected these entertainers to an international audience watching them eat, celebrate birthdays and produce music in real-time.

V Live is therefore a great example of how artists can use the latest technology to forge closer relationships with their fans around the world – something walled culture advocates as a key element in finding new ways to fund creativity.

According to the Mashable article, some of the recordings will be moved to Weverse’s own platform. Specifically, recordings of artists joining Weverse before V Live shuts down. Weverse has also said artists can download their V Live archives to upload elsewhere. That’s all well and good, but many musicians still face the possibility of their streams disappearing forever because they can’t move them to new sites for whatever reason.

A theme in this story is the concentration of power in this sector, a typical problem that plagues much of the copyright world, as I discuss in Walled Culture, the book. However, the main issue is copyright itself. In a sane world, relevant cultural organizations could routinely download all streams on the V Live site to preserve for posterity as important cultural artifacts of the K-pop world. Copyright prohibits this, of course, as it considers preservation an infringement. As a result, K-pop culture is likely to lose some of its signature moments for no good reason and to no one’s benefit.

Follow me @glynmoody Twitteror mastodon. Reposted from the Walled Culture Blog.

Filed under: Copyright, Culture, K-Pop, V Live

Company: Naver, Weverse


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