CJ E&M Confronted with U.S. $50 Million Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

S. Jin, Oct. 28, 2015, 1:58 p.m.

One of the largest South Korean entertainment and media conglomerates CJ E&M and its U.S. branch CJ E&M America are looking at a massive $50 million copyright infringement lawsuit in the States, a case that's being dubbed as the "largest copyright infringement case of 2015" in the U.S., based on the monetary damages sought.

Korean music agency DFSB Kollective has taken matters into their own hands and is suing CJ E&M on the grounds of massive copyright infringement claims. DFSB Kollective stated that they had international distribution rights to over 300 K-pop songs by registering on behalf of Korean artists, obtained through the U.S. Copyright Office. This allowed the agency to legally sell the artists' music on U.S. digital music stores, such as Apple's iTunes. Now, DFSB Kollective is saying that CJ E&M submitted false copyright management information on hundreds of K-pop songs, allowing their own buyers to purchase music from the Mnet website at the same batch price as Koreans do. This negatively affects sales, and the copyright holders' returns decrease since the music isn't being bought through the rightful copyrights.

Thought that was all? There's more. In addition to the copyright infringement claims, DFSB Kollective also filed a complaint for the violation of content management information under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Apparently, CJ E&M also improperly credited copyrights and even altered IRSC codes on songs played using the music streaming service 'Beats Music', which has been owned by Apple since 2014. This will be the first time a lawsuit concerning the DCMA is being brought to CJ E&M.

CJ E&M has not stayed quiet on the matter, however. The media giant rebutted the claims, stating that they had blocked international customers from purchasing and downloading music from their Mnet website since 2011. They further accused DFSB Kollective of being unhappy with a settlement of a similar lawsuit made at Korean courts back in 2012, and that they're only now bringing the case to the U.S. for a more favorable ruling. Regarding the issue of 'Beats Music', CJ E&M stated that they have an exclusive distribution contract with them as of 2014, rebutting accusations of irregularity in distribution. 

This case not only affects the companies involved, but it also addresses the negative impact this unlawful case of copyright infringement has on the artists themselves. A lead singer of an indie band, who requested to remain anonymous, shared his frustration over the illegal distribution of his music, commenting, "To them, it's more about maximizing profits than it is about respecting and protecting the artists. We are too weak to fight against them to protect our creative licenses."

Following the lawsuit, CJ E&M America filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the move was rejected. DFSB Kollective will be represented by the California-based law firm "Browne George Ross LLP", who previously represented major Hollywood stars such as Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The two are set to battle it out in court on March 1, 2016.

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