New copyright body causes conflict for music creators

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New copyright body causes conflict for music creators

The Korea Music Copyright Association (KMCA) has had a management monopoly on songwriters’ copyrights for the past 50 years. But in an effort to “create competition and extend the rights of [music] creators,” the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism gave the green light to the establishment of the Korean Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (KSCAP).

KSCAP was officially launched on Sept. 15 and introduced a “selection system,” which will be the major difference between the two music copyright associations.

The system allows music creators, including composers, lyricists and publishers, to personally choose the type of copyrights they want to entrust the society with, such as transmission, broadcasting and reproduction rights among others, according to the culture ministry.

With the KMCA, creators were under a contract stipulating that once they became members, the association would be entrusted with all the rights to their songs.

However, the creation of a new body with an alternative system is being opposed by some creators, especially writers, many of whom aired their criticisms at a public hearing held on Sept. 15 in the National Assembly members’ office building in Yeouido, western Seoul.

“The selection system will only benefit those few chosen writers,” said writer Choi Won-sun.

“It will foster the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Most of the writers will be enslaved by a big company. The system will only destroy the negotiation rights of the writers and, ultimately, make us become scattered when we should unite as one and cooperate.”

Composer Park Yong-chan also opposed the system, criticizing it as a “luxury” for most creators like him.

“As most of the composers and writers have a small income, such a selection system that allows you to carefully calculate what benefits you and what doesn’t, and selecting the one that does, is a mere luxury,” said Park. “The priority by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism should be allowing the industry to take over the rights of transmission to start a free competition system.”

Although he’s not a musician, Kim Myeong-hwan, director of Kumyoung Contents Research Center, which produces music content for Kumyoung’s karaoke machines, said the new system by the new association will “only add complexity” when users like himself sign contracts to use copyrights. “As a user, concentrated management is really helpful as we don’t have to go through numerous stages of signing.”

Meanwhile, some others welcomed the new system, saying that such rights should have been given to creators long ago.

Composer Oh Se-gyun, who is a member of the board of directors of the new KSCAP, said, “It’s difficult to understand why writers who have always been insisting that they should become the owners of their own work oppose this system that allows them to have more options.”

Cho Kyu-chul, head of Universal Music Publishing Korea, stood on the side of the KSCAP and said that the “advantage of the selection system is that it will tell you details of usages from now on.”

“Not only for the rights of composers, writers and publishers, the selection system is necessary for the advancement and continuous growth of Hallyu [the Korean Wave] and K-pop,” said Cho.


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