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Law & Regulations



In Korea, on completion of production of any copyright material, such material’s copyright becomes realized and protected even without going through any separate procedures or formalities for such right.

Therefore, the original author retains an inclusive right, and by relinquishing such copyright to others or by allowing other people to use the copyrighted material the owner may receive economical compensation (royalty) in exchange.

If someone uses another person’s copyrighted material without permission, the owner of the copyright may make a civil claim for damages and compensation against such person and may even request for criminal punishment against the infringer.

(1) Copyright Protection Period

The domestic protection period for a copyright is 50 years after death of the author in case of individual copyright materials, and is 50 years after declaration for group ownership copyright materials.
After such protection period expires, the copyright material can be used by anyone freely.

(2) The Legitimate Use of Copyright Material

Because it is also important to uphold the purpose of the Copyright Act in allowing copyrighted materials to be smoothly used, such uses for trials, education, news reports, library use, replication for personal use only, street usage, copying of copyrighted arts on public open space like park graffiti, are all explicitly stated under the Act and so its use must be made within the scope of the Act. For details on the type of use and its criteria you must refer to the Copyright Act.

(3) Copyright Personal Rights

The Korean Copyright Act, aside to its original copyright, acknowledges a separate creator’s personal right which is referred to as the “moral right” under foreign law. Such right includes name rights, declaration rights, and consistency preservation rights, and unlike the original copyright, personal rights are not transferable and persist for the creator regardless of the copyright owner’s rights

(4) Protection of Foreigner’s Copyright Material

Even if it is a foreign copyright material that has not been introduced domestically, such material is protected by the Korean Copyright Act in accordance with the 1986 Berlin Treaty.

[Note] Procedures for foreigners when registering a copyright material in Korea

It is possible for a foreigner to register for a copyright in Korea. Foreigners that are residents of Korea, foreign companies that have its main place of business in Korea, foreigners that have declared the copyright material first in Korea, and foreigners who have declared the copyright in Korea within 30 days from the date it was declared in a foreign nation can register as the same as a domestic citizen. However, protections for all other foreigners that are not alluded above depend on what treaties Korea has entered into and the reciprocal relationship between the nations and all foreigners who have not met the criteria shall not be able to register their copyright material. To apply for registration, you can register by Copyright Commission website (www.copyright.or.kr) or download relevant forms and register by mail after completion of the forms.

[Note] Permission to film in public

It is good to check whether prior permission is required or not when shooting in train stations, subways, airports, parks and amusement parks in Korea. For small shoots, in most cases, no permission is needed, but if a shooting hampers the purpose of the facility then permission may be needed. If information on this matter is needed one can make use of the various network connections that the local film commission retains such as filming permits, public image, author’s rights, buy – to seek for cooperation. For example, to make it easier for the film crew to shoot the film, it is possible to ask for governmental assistance such as from the police, or the film crew could be provided with information on how to get permission and the fees for it to shoot on various sites such as historical sites, and it can even get information on construction sites and which areas to avoid shooting.

(5) Likeness Rights

Likeness rights can be said to refer to personality and financial benefits one receives for their image and likeness. No one can film, publicize, or use for commercial purposes another person’s face or another person’s physical feature that can distinguish him/her based on other societal norms, without consent. However, in no connection with the contents of the movie, even if a random person is coincidentally filmed while the movie was being shot in a public place and due to such person incurs damages, there is no need to pay compensation. But, if it does have connection with the contents of the film, then consent must be obtained and if possible it would be better to have a written consent. Although filming and publicizing of public figures are allowed at all times and do not infringe upon likeness rights, because publicity rights, which is a right to use their reputation for commercial purposes are acknowledged, special caution must be taken for public figures. This is because when calculating compensations, compensation amounts for public figures are higher than that of the average person.

(6) Music Copyrights

In Korea, in order to use another copyright holder’s music for background music, you must first decide whether the music will be newly performed or whether a recorded music sold in the markets will be used. If you are using the recorded music, you must receive two licenses from the music company that launched the album of the music: a license for the copyright of the sound source, and a license for the copyright recorded on the album. For copyrights of the sound source, you should contact the music company listed on the album cover. In order to receive copyrights permission of music, you must locate the songwriter and composer, but in most cases, receiving approval for copyrights is commissioned to organizations called music publishing companies. To seek music copyright holders in Korea, contact the Korea Music Copyright Association (KO MCA) at www.komca.or.kr

[Note] Copyrights regarding music and conversation inserted in the film by coincidence while filming in public places

It cannot be considered as using copyrights in cases where music or conversations that have nothing to do with the shoot, are unintentionally and unavoidably included in the film due to filming on the streets. Thus, there is no need to receive the copyright holder’s permission