Proposed copyright law raises dispute
It costs money to rent a comic book at a rental shop unless it is run by your family or relatives.
Popular comic books can be rented out an unlimited number of times, but, surprisingly, in Korea the authors of these comic books get no money no matter how many times their books are read by other people.
Until today, domestic copyright laws have not applied to rental shops and so the industry could avoid paying royalties to the creators.
However, after 18 years the government is trying to revise the copyright law, and governing party members on the National Assembly’s culture and tourism committee began trying to draw up a revision bill on Feb. 16.
Legalizing a “rental copyright” has created a major dispute in the comic book industry, since the law would have a serious effect on it.
In the comic book publishing market, rental shops account for 60 percent of the buyers, but most of them are struggling. There are concerns that if the shops have to pay money to the authors, the whole rental market might collapse.
Cartoonists, however, take a different stance.
Won Su-yeon, the creator of the popular comic “Full House,” said, “I understand the difficulties the rental shops go through. But we authors feel deprived, seeing the current rental industry.”
Ms. Won said the new law means more “fairness” rather than “money.” Most of the cartoonists hope that the revision of the law will see their copyrights recognized in the rental industry.
The publishers of comic books are confused, since even if the new copyright law is adopted, it is not clear how it can be applied. For one thing, there are many ways in which the shops can rent out books without leaving records, and thus avoid paying the cartoonists.
Kim Gu-hoe, marketing director of Daiwon CI, a comic book publisher, said, “The publishers may have to carry the burden of paying the author in the process of publishing. We respect the authors’ rights, but a new law should be implemented slowly.”
Lee Gwang-cheol, a member of the governing Uri Party, said, “Everyone sees the necessity of revising the law, but ‘how’ and ‘when’ to apply it is the question.”
Ms. Lee said that establishing a system to count and supervise the number of rentals in shops is one method of collecting royalties that is under consideration.
by Baik Sung-ho