South Korea’s largest entertainment and media company, CJ E&M, faces a $50 million USD lawsuit relating to copyright violations, reported the Korea Herald on Thursday.
The DFSB Kollective-CJ E&M case is reportedly the biggest music copyright infringement case of the year in the U.S, based on the amount of damages sought.
The plaintiff, DFSB Kollective, claimed that it had the legal international distribution rights for hundreds of Korean songs and have registered the rights with the U.S Copyright Office on behalf of numerous Korean artists.
DFSB Kollective is represented by Browne George Ross, an American entertainment law firm that has represented Hollywood stars including Kim Kardashian and Kanye West .
“The complaints that the plaintiff filed are not true and so the company will fight against them without compromise until we are proven innocent,” CJ E&M’s legal team told The Korea Herald on Wednesday via email.
According to the Korean Herald, DFSB Kollective’s case also revolves around digital sales prices.
“In the U.S. civil lawsuit, the plaintiff is claiming that while it was legally licensed to sell Korean songs in the U.S. on digital music stores such as Apple iTunes for $0.99 to $1.29 per download, the defendants committed copyright infringements by allowing international customers including U.S. users to access their Korean Mnet.com website and purchase the same Korean songs at price-dumped rates [of less than $.10] per download to even as low as free.”
In addition to copyright infringement claims, DFSB Kollective alleges that, since 2014, CJ E&M and CJ E&M America have violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by submitting false copyright management information regarding songs played on Beats Music, which was bought by Apple in 2014.
“Unlike Korea, the U.S.’s DMCA law levies ‘punitive’ damages for misconduct involving copyrights in the digital domain,” Professor Lee Jae-Kyoung of Konkuk University Law School told the Korea Herald.
CJ E&M accused DFSB Kollective of pursuing the case in the United States after previously reaching a settlement in 2012 after DFSB Kollective sued for similar copyright misconduct in 2011.
Legal reps for CJ E&M explained that “technical errors” enabled international audiences to purchase Korean music several years ago, but the music download service was removed as early as 2011.
The company also said that there were no issues regarding the distribution of Korean music on Beats Music (now owned by Apple), due to an “exclusive” distribution contract signed between CJ E&M and Beats last year.
CJ E&M and CJ E&M America’s legal representation submitted a motion to dismiss the case, but the court rejected the request and a trial by jury is set for March 1, 2016.
Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene. She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and has written for MTV Iggy, Noisey, and Paste Magazine.