Prosecutors said Tuesday that they plan to indict some 200 professors on charges of copyright infringement next month, a move that could lead to a mass dismissal of professors from their colleges.
The professors from some 50 universities across the country are accused of publishing books under their names after only changing the cover of existing ones written by other people.
The Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office in northern Seoul said it has questioned the professors and said it plans to indict them next month, noting that the charges have been confirmed.
The professors, mostly from science and engineering departments, have often used the tactic to exaggerate their research capabilities before an evaluation period for rehiring, according to the prosecutors.
Four employees from three local publishers have also been booked for overlooking the crime and publishing such books.
Publishers are known to have ignored the crime and have even coaxed professors to commit the illegal act in a bid to sell more books and reduce stocks of unsold textbooks, taking advantage of the fact that students are willing to buy books published by their professors.
In some cases, the publishers took existing textbooks in their inventories, ripped the covers off and replaced them with new ones before selling them.
The original authors had to put up with the situation to keep a good relationship with the publishers, amid a lack of opportunities to publish science books, prosecutors said.
The indictment could lead to a mass dismissal of professors as universities have policies not to rehire those who have been fined more than 3 million won (US$2,500).