The more I learn about the music industry and the copyright systems that are in place, the more I have issues with people demanding the right to access unlimited content freely. This is a huge issue in the fandom I'm apart of which is why I want to write this just to map out some of the main arguments, examine the consequences and maybe introduce a different perspective to whoever is reading this. In our fandom there has lately been much attention given to accounts dedicated to spreading fancafe exclusive content outside of the fancafe, objecting to the rules and the fans that argue that the rules should be followed.
The people who spread this content can often be seen arguing some of these points:
1. Most people don't have access to the fancafe, we are helping them.
2. We're not breaking any laws.
3. We don't care about the rules.
4. They're only pictures.
People who object to the spread of this content can be seen arguing some of these points:
1. Gaining access to the fancafe can be tricky, but is absolutely possible, and access to exclusive content is your reward for the struggle. By spreading the pictures you are devaluing our struggle.
2. You're breaking laws.
3. The rules should be followed.
4. They are property of BigHit Entertainment.
I first want to make it clear that spreading and using someone's work without the rightholder's permission is absolutely breaking copyright law. (Swedish law, at least. I don't know about American or Korean law, but as this is a basic staple of copyright I am writing this under the assumption that it is included.) BigHit, the owner of these pictures, have every right to demand that their pictures are used only on their conditions. BigHit also make it very clear that moving these pictures off of the boards is not allowed. 1+1=2, and moving the pictures off the boards is copyright infringement.
What does that mean in practicality, though? You've uploaded a picture to Twitter without their permission, and now you're a criminal. But what does that mean in a community that thrives on copyright infringement like piracy of TV shows and music, scans of printed magazines and sales of items with copyrighted logos and images? Not much at all. BigHit Entertainment will not so much as send you a cease and desist. For some reason they do not pursue copyright infringement even when it's reported to them (due to lack of resources, maybe?). What they might do is make it more difficult to gain access to the fancafe, or post less content, which directly affects all of the members of the fancafe as well as the people who are trying to join to legitimately take part of the content.
Making it more difficult to get access to this content that is being spread may seem counterintuitive. Why not make it easier to join, so that there's no incentive for spreading the pictures in the first place? Because BigHit values the fancafe community. The fancafe is an essential connection between BTS and fans, and not to mention it's the main place where communication between BigHit and the fans happens. It's where you'll find important, detailed and gathered information on new releases, concerts, fansigns and etc. If you are unable to attend their promotions or fansigns in person, the fancafe is your next best bet of experiencing a slightly more close connection with the BTS members; you get to read their fancafe letters, they might comment on your post, or you might be one of the extremely lucky few that get to join a chat room with them. Naturally, many overseas fans fight to overcome the language barrier to join the community. This is definitely not always an easy feat, and can be very time-consuming, which is why some might be offended if the content is simply fed to someone who never even tried. Of course, fancafes also play a big role in Korean fandom culture, which I'm not apart of and so I won't speculate.
Now imagine if BigHit made it easy to join the fancafe, say by simply writing down your name, DOB, location and the answer to a simple question (this is the standard level-up form in many new fancafes that are looking to attract members), or by offering an English level-up form. What would the consequences be? Give this a minute of thought.
I personally believe that it would lead to chaos due to a huge influx of members. The fancafe staff would struggle with enforcing the board rules and the Korean-speaking part of the community would be fed up with the non-Korean speaking part due to the refusal of following the fancafe etiquette and flooding of the Korean boards. With a huge influx of members also comes more members who will pay the rules no mind, and instead of this measure limiting the spread of the exclusive content, it will instead be spread even more. BTS are a group whose popularity is seriously shooting upwards and I believe this is only inevitable. (Of course, it is not impossible to manage an internet community of huge numbers and keep it from turning into chaos, but it does demand a lot of manpower and resources.) Anyway you might reach a different conclusion and disagree with me, this is just what I think.
So why won't BigHit simply scrap the exclusive content and make it available for everyone through open mediums like Facebook and Twitter? Probably because they still need powerful enough incentives for people to join the fancafe. Of course, exclusive pictures are only one part of what makes joining the fancafe valuable, but it's still a part, and invalidating that part would still probably impact the amount of members that decide to join in one way or the other. And why does people joining the cafe or not even matter? It does, because it makes it easier for BigHit to communicate with a larger number of fans, and fancafe membership count is a measurement of domestic popularity.
I'm sure there are several other points I should be touching on in this post that are important, and there is probably much to discuss that I missed, but this is what I could think of to put down and all I have energy for. Whether you agree or disagree with people who spread exclusive content (or other pirated content) is up to you, but I hope you reach your conclusion by weighing several different aspects and perspectives of this and not simply mindlessly agreeing to it because it makes life easy.