[The Korea Times]KOMCA to follow global trend of ‘Transfer of Value’


KOMCA to follow global trend of ‘Transfer of Value’

Posted : 2017-10-31 21:08
Updated : 2017-10-31 22:13

Secretary General of KOMCA You Gi-seob / Courtesy of KOMCA

By Kim Jae-heun

Dealing with the issue of music copyright has come to the fore today in the global music industry as the approaching Fourth Industrial Revolution will change the whole system of people’s music consumption.

If music copyright associations around the world have fought against illegal downloading and free livestreaming services previously, the notion of distributing music in the future will be diversified to another level _ making it almost impossible for the organizations to impose all the royalties for copyright.

Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Copyright Act’s legislation, the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) held the 2017 Seoul Copyright Forum on Oct. 17 to discuss the role of online service providers (OSP) like Google and Facebook in the era of “hyperconnectivity” and “superintelligence.”

The 1st Vice Minister of Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) Na Jong-min emphasized the pivotal role of OSPs and said the key points of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are creativity based on the connection and the convergence of intellectual property.

“It is mandatory to guarantee the fair compensation for the creation and organize the copyright system to vitalize the use of it,” Na said during a forum at COEX in Samseong-dong, southeastern Seoul.

During an interview with The Korea Times, an English daily in Korea celebrating the 67th anniversary of its foundation, KOMCA Secretary General You Gi-seob talked about the history of the organization and the achievements it has reached to secure music copyrights. Furthermore, Yu suggested possible plans of KOMCA to cope with swift changes in music consumption in the future.

A. First of all, I would like to congratulate The Korea Times on the 67th anniversary of its foundation. The English news daily has walked a long way together with the Republic of Korea from its reconstruction to an economic power it developed into today. The Korea Times boasts the longest history as an English news daily in Korea and its presence alone is a big asset to the local media industry. I hope The Korea Times advances in the future, delivering factual stories here and abroad.

Q. The Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA) has a history of 53 years. When was the notion of copyright first introduced in Korea and by whom?

A. KOMCA cannot confirm the exact time and date when the notion of copyright was first introduced in Korea, but we presume if we only chase the history of music copyright introduction here, it can be when the Korea Record Writers Association was first founded on March 31, 1956. The popular songwriters of the time like Park Si-chun and Pan Ya-wol established the voluntary association to protect the rights of songwriters which later became the founding organization for KOMCA. Later in December 1960, the record shows singers and the Korea Record Writers Association first demanded royalties from the Central Broadcasting Station, which is now the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS).

Q. What is the main duty of KOMCA and what are some achievements of the organization?

A. KOMCA organizes property rights of songwriters, lyricists and music arrangers. It is our main duty to collect royalties on almost all the music played in Korea and allocate them.

In the last three years, we have collected 27.5 billion won in royalties and established various fair and clean systems to collect and allocate digitally.

We have also reduced the commission fee for royalties to the lowest standard among copyright organizations around the world to provide maximum profits to members of KOMCA.

Based on such achievements, KOMCA has hosted 2017 CISAC Aisa/Pacific Committee Conference and developed into an influential organization on an international level.

Q. Where is Korea now in the global level of copyright protection?

A. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Korea was included in the upper ranks on the research of “Contribution of Creative Industries to GDP.” It is the general index to learn about country’s level of copyright protection.

Also, the revised legislative bill related to the copyright since 2000 is rated highly in international society and Korea has recently been praised as an improved country in the sector of copyright.

In the past, we witnessed people consuming music under the condition of unauthorized use. But systematic complement has improved the recognition of people to download and use services legally.

However, we are still not able to collect royalties properly on the case of performing rights, which includes music played in cafes, pubs or stores compared to the circumstances in developed countries.

The revised legislative bill has made some improvements in the commercial facility, but we have farther to go on securing a larger scale of copyright protection. Consistent study and supplementation are necessary.

Q. K-pop has become popular in the past 10 years on an international level and, as such, there must be issues emerging between local musicians and foreign music distributors. What system is established on an international level to protect Korean musicians’ copyright? In the case of China, the country is vast and perfect surveillance is almost impossible to cover. Is there preparation to cope with problems when conscientious trade is disregarded?

A. We are currently collecting royalties for local musicians through a mutual contract established between music copyright organizations of each country.

We’ve also signed a mutual contract with China and their market is more expected in the future than now. Last February, companies related to copyright including KOMCA gathered to launched a private organization called COA, or Copyright Overseas promotion Association, and here we are making efforts to deal with infringement of copyright in oversea.

Q. We are watching a disparity of wealth in the allocation of royalties in Korea. The top 1 percent is taking 78 percent of all royalties collected here. What are some actions made to alleviate the situation?

A. The copyright fees are generated upon the consumption of the music and we cannot do anything about it. However, we’ve expanded the scope of collecting royalties by enlarging the size of the copyright market so more profit can go to musicians. Also, more studies are made to collect copyright fees for sacred music and we’ve actually began to collect some this year.

Apart from that, KOMCA has started to provide a welfare system for the members to support living, give financial help on medical aid and compensate for accidents when they fall victim.

Q. In the future, the distributing systems of music will become more complex and diverse. The online service provider’s role will also fall important than ever. How is KOMCA preparing to deal with this?

A. For many years, various platforms have appeared online and using such tools, music industry insiders, along with consumers, have enjoyed music freely and distributed it. The trend will be more active in the upcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution era.

The truth is, we need more studies on copyright legislation and social consensus to prevent third persons from intercepting profits or damaging the value of musicians’ work.

“Transfer of Value” is the hot potato being discussed between EU and U.S. copyright organizations these days.

Such idea is a phenomenon where the creator’s value is being transferred to the OSP and this is a result of an exemption provision called “safe harbor” that has long been reflected under the each countries’ copyright law.

KOMCA has joined the trend of the global copyright industry and during the 2017 CISAC ASIA/Pacific Committee Conference held in May, we have invited domestic and foreign music industry officials to talk about “Transfer of Value.” Following the global trend, KOMCA will make efforts to prevent damaging the value of musicians’ creations and protect their property fairly.