59 celebrities including Girls' Generation and Bae Yong Joon lose a lawsuit against Naver for publicity rights

LrgnNChrg, Jan. 27, 2014, 10:45 a.m.

In May 2013, high profile celebrities discovered that country's biggest online portal Naver was offering a shopping mall search service that used their names without permission. For example, the phrases would be 'Bae Yong Joon style eyeglasses' and 'Girls' Generation style one-piece.' Consequently, the celebrities sued the portal site on the grounds of violating rights of publicity. They asked for compensation for the damages worth 1.2 billion won (~ 1 million USD).

A total of 59 celebrities are involved in the lawsuit, including Bae Yong Joon, Kim Nam Gil, Soo Ae, Jang Dong Gun, miss A, 2PM, Wonder Girls, BoA, TVXQ, Girls' Generation, and other artists under SM, JYP, and YG.

However, the court ruled against these celebrities according to the Seongnam Branch of Suwon District Court & Public Prosecturos' Office on January 22. The justice department stated, "There is the need to acknowledge the right to publicity that could have an economical effect through the usage of celebrities' faces and names. However, it is difficult to view this as a violation of that right based on keyword searches because there is no rule according to current legislation."

In addition, these celebrities had sued not only Naver but 10 other portal sites that deal with internet shopping malls including Daum. People are curious as to whether this first ruling will influence the other cases, as well. Stay tuned for updates.

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