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Attorney Wonil Chung Invited for Entertainment Law Practice Panel at the 20th Annual Conference of International Association of Korean Lawyers (IAKL)

Our attorney, Wonil Chung, Esq. was invited to speak on the entertainment law practice at the 20th Annual Conference of International Association of Korean Lawyers (IAKL), which was held from September 13 to 16, 2012.

At the conference session titled “Entertainment Law Practice”, Mr. Chung gave an English presentation in front of U.S. and Korean licensed lawyers and law school students on the various legal issues arising out of the Korean music business, so-called “K-POP” and introduced recent high-profile litigations involving famous K-POP artists such as TVXQ, KARA and big management companies such as SM Entertainment.  He also provided comparative analysis between the laws of South Korean and the U.S.

Mr. Wonil Chung, a Korean licensed lawyer, has extensive experience in advising and representing Korean and non-Korean clients on various issues involving Korean laws such as intellectual property, Continue reading


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Seoul Court Ruled Jin-Young Park, Famous Korean Song Writer and Producer, Is Guilty of Plagiarism – Korean Copyright Law on Music Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

On February 10, Seoul Central District Court ruled that Mr. Jin-Young Park, one of the most influential music producers and composers, had plagiarized another Korean composer’s song.  The defendant Mr. Park is well-known as the co-owner of JYP Entertainment, one of the top Korean music production companies(Gi-Huek-Sa).  He has produced numerous albums for famous K-Pop artists with great successes including, but not limited to, Rain, G.O.D and Wonder Girls.

The plaintiff Mr. Shin-Il Kim, a K-Pop composer, had filed a lawsuit against Mr. Park on July 2011, claiming Mr. Park’s song titled “Someday”, sung by IU, had infringed his song titled “To My Man” and he is entitled to a compensation of approximately 90,000USD.

It was reported that the judge recommended a settlement to the parties before issuing the ruling, but the both parties objected to it.  And finally the court sided with the plaintiff.  The Court found that four bars from the chorus of the defendant’s song is substantially similar to that of the plaintiff’s song which constitutes a copyright infringement and ordered the defendant to pay approximately 20,000USD to the plaintiff as a remedy.

Under Korean copyright law, a claim for plagiarism and copyright infringement is established when the defendant had access to the copyrighted work of the plaintiff and there exists a substantial similarity between the two works.  With regard to the first element, Continue reading


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Can a Game Character Itself be Protected as a Copyrighted Work Separated from Its Original Work As a Whole?

This is an issue arising from an international IP dispute between Konami, a well-known Japanese game production company, and Neople, a Korean game production company.  Back in 2007, Konami alleged that game characters in Neople’s game titled “Shin-Ya-Gu”(New baseball) infringed Konami’s copyright in its famous baseball game “Jikkyou Yaku”(see the picture.  the left image is Konami’s character and the right one is Neople’s) and filed a copyright infringement lawsuit to a Korean court.

The lower courts had overruled Konami’s claim stating a game character itself could not be protected as a copyrighted work under Korean copyright law unless such character had been commercialized independently.

This year, however, the Supreme Court of Korea dissented from the lower courts’ opinion.  The Supreme Court ruled a game character can be copyrighted separated from its original work, a game.  The court held that “In order to be protected under the copyright law, a work must be a creative work expressing human thoughts or emotions. Thus, in case of a character implying shape and name of person, animal and so on appearing in cartoon, television, movie, newspaper, magazine and so on, if the creative personality was shown in the visual expression as to the appearance, action of such person, animal, then such character can be a work as protected under the copyright law, apart from its original work”.  Then the Supreme Court continued to held that  Continue reading


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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