The Seoul High Court has ruled in favor of BTS‘s agency, BigHit Entertainment, at an appeal hearing for a magazine’s violation of BTS’s portrait rights.
The case involves Mr. Jung, the publisher of an entertainment magazine that included an extensive number of BTS photos in their January, June, and November 2018 issues, and their March 2019 issue. To protect BTS’s exclusive portrait rights, BigHit Entertainment took action to stop Mr. Jung from publishing the magazine.
In the injunction filed against Mr. Jung, BigHit Entertainment claimed that the magazine was actually a photobook, as more than half of the magazine’s 108 pages (45 to 65) were about BTS. Most entertainment magazines use 10 pages or less to cover a group.
In the case’s first trial, the court sided more in favor with the magazine. Despite the fact that the magazine was profiting off of BTS’s images, the court stated that the magazine’s goal was to inform the public about BTS. Such activities are legally permissible in the realm of media reporting, under freedom of the press.
On May 30, the Seoul High Court, headed by judge Hong Seung Myun, made a different decision than the lower court. They partially approved BigHit Entertainment’s injunction, stating that the magazine’s publication of BTS media went beyond the normal scope of media coverage and that the magazine was in fact packaged like a pictorial to increase sales. Selling photobooks/pictorials like this legally requires the agency’s permission.
The court concluded their statement by saying it is “highly probable” that the magazine’s BTS coverage falls in the realm of illegal activity that infringes upon BigHit Entertainment’s exclusive portrait rights for BTS. Mr. Jung’s magazine is still allowed to use BTS’s name in its issues, but it will not be permitted to further produce and sell his magazine that originally included BTS’s photos without removing the photos first. If Mr. Jung fails to comply, he will receive a fine of 10 million won ($8400 USD) per day.