Ask Korea Law

Published by Chung & Partners Since 2008


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Introduction to the Right of Publicity in South Korea

The legal concept of right of publicity is relatively new one in South Korea.  About 25 years ago, affected by the U.S. entertainment law cases, the Korean legal society began to theorize the concept of right of publicity, and finally the lower courts of Korea approved the right of publicity, although there is no ruling from the Supreme Court and no express statute provisions are established.

According to the Korean lower court’s rulings, the right of publicity is an exclusive property right independent from the traditional right of privacy.  It is a property right to use the name, portrait or any other identity of a person for commercial purpose and to control the use thereof.  The courts have ruled that the right of publicity can be transferred and inherited.  Not only a living person but also a dead person has the right of publicity, which is protected during 50 years from the date of death.

In Korea, there have been many cases where celebrities and sports stars claim their rights of publicity against various types of unauthorized commercial exploitation of their identity.  For example, in 2006, in a case where a Korean game company used pro baseball player’s name and personal record in their mobile baseball game, the Seoul Central District Court held that pro baseball players have the rights of publicity as to their names and personal game records so the game company which had used the player’s name and personal record without player’s permission Continue reading


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Court Ruled Starbucks Korea Free to Play Copyrighted Music in Its Outlets without Paying Royalties

eab7b8eba6bc-8A few days ago, Seoul Central Court ruled in favor of Starbucks Korea in a copyright lawsuit filed by the Korea Music Copyright Association alleging the Starbucks Korea should pay royalties in playing copyrighted music in its outlets.  I wrote some posts regarding this issue here and here.  The legal issue was whether playing copyrighted music substitutes a mail business of Starbucks Korea.  That is because Continue reading


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RAIN & JYP Ordered to Pay $8 Million to Hawaiian Concert Promoter – Glimpse on Legal Issues in Korean Music Business, What Is Wrong with That?

eab7b8eba6bc-111South Korean popstar RAIN (Chung, Ji-hoon) and his ex-agency JYP Entertainment had lost their lawsuit in Hawaiian District Court brought by a local promoter, Click Entertainment, alleging Rain’s last-minute cancellation of Honolulu concert in 2007 cost them $1.5 million and caused damage to the company’s reputation.

A couple of days ago, the court found in Click’s favour, ruling that Rain and JYP were guilty of both breach of contract and fraud.  Nearly $5 million of the damages payment are punitive, with Rain himself and JYP ordered to pay half each.

It is reported that Rain has testified he didn’t know why the concert had been cancelled and the cancellation was out of his control.

I think many people, especially outside of Korea, wonder how the singer, the performer himself, couldn’t know the reason of the cancellation and how he could say it was “out of his control”.  In this regard, I think people should know more about Korean music business to understand Rain’s comment.

In Korea, almost every singers and bands are under exclusive contracts with certain entertainment entrepreneurs, called “Ghi-Hoek-Sa”, which is the mixture of agencies and management companies, yes, they’re doing both of jobs in Korea.  The problem is the contract between the singers and the entrepreneur is being criticized as very unfavorable to the singers.  For example, the term of the contract is very long, Continue reading


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Two Korean Internet Portal Giants Prosecuted for Aiding Copyright Infringement

naverLast December 23, the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office prosecuted NHN corporation, the operator of Naver (the largest Internet portal in Korea) and Daum Communications Co., the operatot of Daum for copyright infringement.

The prosecutors said two Internet portals have been aiding copyright infringement of their users by ignoring copyright holders(The Korea Music Copyright Association and the Korea Association of Phonogram Producers) request for removing illegal music files on their sites and taking no actions.  The prosecutors found 10 millions of uploaded music files Continue reading


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Chosun Ilbo, the Largest Newsaper Company in Korea, Sued a Korean Internet Portal Daum for Copyright Infringement

It is reported that Chosun Ilbo, one of the most prestigious newspaper company in South Korea, had filed a lawsuit against Daum Communication, an Internet portal company, for copyright infringement worth of KRW 1 billion loss.

Chosun Ilbo is alleging that Daum illegally posted Chosun Ilbo’s 57,910 news stories, 48,485 photos & illustrations on-line even after expiry of the three-month storage period set in a contract signed with Chosun Ilbo, which allegedly consists of copyright infringement.

Daum is denying all the allegations.

© 2008 Wonil Chung, a Korean Media Lawyer/Chung & Partners, a Korean Media Law Firm.  All rights reserved. Some copyrights, photos, icons, trademarks, trade dress, or other commercial symbols that appear on this post are the property of the respective owners.


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Korean Copyright Law on Playing Copyrighted Music in Public or Private Business – Starbucks Korea Case

A while ago, I posted an article, titled “Starbucks Korea Sued for Music Copyright Infringement“.  Under Copyright Act of Korea, “it is permitted to play any commercial phonograms or cinematographic works in public if no benefit in turn for the relevant public performance is received from the audience or spectators”.  However this shall not be applied to all the business place.  The Copyright Act does not apply this clause to certain areas of business, such as department stores, shopping malls, airplanes, golf courses and “any places of business regulated under Food Sanitation Act(FSA) where a part of its main contents of business is the appreciation of musical or cinematographic works, being equipped with special facilities to appreciate the musical or cinematographic works”.

The Starbucks coffee shop is regulated under FSA.  The party alleging copyright infringement is arguing “‘appreciation of musical works’ is a part of main Continue reading


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The Supreme Court Rules against Kimberly-Clark over $63 Million Disposable Diaper Patent Lawsuit

The Supreme Court of Korea ruled on February 28 in favor of LG Household and Health Care of Korea(“LG Household”), a domestic diaper manufacturer, saying it did not violate a patent of the U.S. firm Kimberly-Clark Corp.

The Supreme Court held that the disposable diaper with a leak-preventing flap produced by LG Household did not infringe on a patent owned by Kimberly-Clark and its local affiliate Yuhan Kimberly.

It was a long 8-year fierce lawsuit between two giants. Kimberly-Clark Continue reading