DFSB Kollective Copyright Suit

A South Korean music agency is suing the country’s largest entertainment company in U.S. court for violating copyrights. 

DFSB Kollective, which is based in Seoul, filed the $50 million suit against CJ E&M and its American subsidiary, CJ E&M America in March in the Central District Court of California, claiming the two companies “committed copyright infringement and submitted false copyright management information on hundreds of K-pop songs” to which DFSB holds “exclusive” licenses to distribute overseas, including in the U.S., according to documents acquired by the Korea Herald.

DFSB said in court that it attained the international distribution rights for “about 300 Korean songs” by registering them on behalf of the respective Korean artists through the U.S. Copyright Office.

The two defendant companies submitted a motion to have the case dismissed, saying DFSB’s claims are “groundless.” However, the court rejected the motion and ordered a trial by jury that will start March 1 of next year.

The documents the newspaper obtained indicated that several “former and current” CJ E&M executives will be asked to testify and provide evidence. CJ Group chairman, Lee Jay-hyun, is a U.S. citizen and lives in California. The legal team handling the case for CJ E&M has told the Korean media it intends to fight the case to the end and prove its innocence, adding that the company terminated the download service for international users in 2011 due to “technical errors” that allowed for improper downloads. More to the point, a similar case was already argued in a Korean court in 2012, which led to a settlement.

According to AsiaOne Business News, the case is important for another reason. Korean singers, songwriters and musicians have been very frustrated with the way their rights have been handled both within Korea and abroad. Some say they weren’t even aware that their music was available overseas until a third party told them.