Seoul DJ Fest Fined

The Seoul Western District Court fined the 2013 World DJ Festival 1 million won ($980) June 24 for copyright infringement during last year’s event. 

The festival’s organizer, whom the Korea Herald only identified by his last name, Choi, was found to have “used” DJ DOC’s single “I’m a Guy Like That” without permission, agreeing with a suit filed by the Korea Music Copyright Association.

Though the song was performed by DJ DOC, a hip-hop trio, it was written by Psy, who owns the copyright. While DJ DOC has recorded the song and had a hit with it, it is against the law for a performer to present a song in any other situation without first “receiving permission from and paying the necessary royalties to the copyright holder.”

The judge in the case said, “Even when the original singer is singing his ‘own’ song, he must pay a fee to the composer when using it for commercial purposes.”

Choi was notified several times by the KMCA, which is entrusted with full authority to deal with copyright issues, and told he was not allowed to use copyrighted materials without permission, but he “failed to take the necessary procedures for legal use of the song,” according to the court ruling.

In a similar suit across the sea, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of the Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC) in its suit over royalty-free use of copyrighted songs in so-called hostess clubs.

The Mainichi Shimbun newspaper reports that the court ordered three high-rent hostess clubs in Tokyo to pay a total of 15.7 million yen ($15,400) in fines.

The clubs will also have to stop live performances of piano versions of copyrighted songs.

The judge in the case said that the music used by the clubs was a “means of generating revenue” and were used for profit-making activities.

The defendants objected to this interpretation, saying that the performance of songs had not relationship to the clubs’ profitability.

Hostess clubs typically cater to businessmen with personable female companions who pour drinks and make conversation.

Drinks are usually very expensive and most clubs also charge a table fee.

Music is incidental to this transaction, but clubs that do have live music tend to be more expensive, between $100 and $150 an hour.