The recent legal entanglement between Yoon Mi Rae (also known as Tasha) and Sony Pictures prompted K-pop fans to express their opinions about copyright, permission and global corporations.
In “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action Against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in ‘The Interview’ Without Permission,” Soompi writer kiddy_days writes that Yoon, legendary singer and rapper in Korean popular music who is also married to veteran rapper Tiger JK, intends to sue Sony Pictures. The story reveals that Yoon’s agency, Feel Ghood Music, began talks to include Yoon’s track, “Pay Day” in the film, but Yoon contends that those talks ended with no resolution.
Comments following the story reveal that fans are concerned with issues of copyright. They also critique globalization which makes the use of copyright material easier. As of January 11, 2015, 182 comments were posted to the story.
Commenters raise the lawsuit to the level of South Korean-US dynamics. Some, like Tricia Powrie, believe that Sony’s behavior mirrors the behavior of South Korean entertainment agencies in the unauthorized use of copyrighted material:
Gross this is upsetting to hear. How much does asia and Korea included steal Americas stuff without a care in the world for copyright? This is rediculous [sp]. I hope she loses. She defenitly [sp] will lose fans or could be fans from America.
Others, like Ann Marie Hake Hughes, question the assumption that Korean agencies do not pay to use American material:
What makes you think the k dramas don’t have the rights to the songs? If they didn’t, Netflix, drama fever and Hulu would be in trouble for airing them. That’s actually something that keeps movies and old TV shows from airing on those services — lack of rights for the music. Whatever your assumptions are about Korea, broadcasting in the USA is a whole different ballgame and the big players wouldn’t stream anything without it being legal.
Other commenters focus on Yoon’s status and motives as an artist. In another comment, Powrie suggests that Yoon is an unknown artist looking to benefit from her lawsuit:
Barely anyone even knows her name and Now shes going to sue. Hah. Its just rediculous [sp] Shes just doing it to get her name out and its sickening.
However, commenters like Ryan Seo, seek to provide some context for Yoon’s motives:
For somebody who hasnt heard about her, she was selected the 12th best new female emcees dominating mics worldwide by MTV Iggy in 2011. She is worldwide female hip hop singer. For somebody who is bitching about her suing Sony, talking about free publicity or whatever, educate your dumb self. She doesnt need any publicity.
Other commenters question the legality of Yoon’s own song. Xslol suggests that Yoon used someone else’s material for “Pay Day”:
Uh so what if her song was actually taken from someone else who took the song from somewhere else? How can she sue if she’s not even the original and also did not ask permission ?
In response, commenters like Lawyerfor13Years parse the difference between sampling, plagiarism and copyright infringement:
Using someone elses copyrighted song without a legal contract is against the law and sony knows it. “Sampling” in music is not considered copyright infringment [sp] if the sample is under 20 seconds. Most rap artists use samples in songs. Many will pay the original artist a small fee to be able to use the sample. So it doesnt matter if her song had a sample of someone elses song in it. If its under 20 seconds or she paid the original artist, it can become a part of her song legally. Sony using her song for 2+ minutes in the movie does not constitute use of a sample, and I am positive she will win a large settlement in court.
These commenters represent a variety of opinions over the matter. The issue of how Korean agencies use copyrighted material quickly enters the discourse, and questions are raised as to how the average foreign consumer of Korean popular culture would know if such copyright is not being recognized. For example, permissions are usually acknowledged in the credits that run after a program, but such credits are often edited out for foreign consumers. Yoon’s place in Korean music also affects how her lawsuit is perceived. For those who do not know here, she may be perceived as someone mere seeking attention using a nuisance suit. However, those who are aware of her long career see her legal response as more legitimate.
Image: “Yoon Mi Rae (Tasha), Promo (Korea Fans),” Hallyu Harmony, accessed January 11, 2015, http://kpop.omeka.net/items/show/429.
Source: “Yoon Mi Rae to Take Legal Action against Sony Pictures for Using Her Song in “The Interview” without Permission.” Soompi. 26 Dec 2014. Web. 11 Jan 2015.
Fan Commentary: Yoon Mi Rae and Sony Pictures by Crystal S. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.