[Trans] How did SM’s Trademark to ‘Dong Bang Shin Ki’ Get Rejected?

How did SM’s Trademark to ‘Dong Bang Shin Ki’ Get Rejected?

The problem of patenting idol group names brought up by the ‘Kara’ contract termination issue

By Jeon Sojeong, patent lawyer, IP&company

Translator’s note: Where the name for idol group Kara is written as “Kara” I am translating directly from the Korean name “카라 but where the name appears as “KARA” it was also originally written as “KARA” in the Korean article.

Jeon Sojeong, patent lawyer (지심 IP&company) ⓒ전소정 변리사 제공

January 26, 2011—These days, the entertainment industry is monitoring the unpredictable ‘Kara incident’ with keen interest. At this point, both scenarios are equally expected: that the contentious issues [between Kara and their management] can be resolved or that the group has reached its limit. In all honesty, I have no interest in girl groups, but as the ‘Kara’ contract termination controversy gets thicker, management company DSP Media has moved to gain exclusive trademark rights to the name ‘Kara’. I’ve never thought of this before, but it struck me that the question of who owns the trademark rights to the names of idol groups could become a source of big problems, and so I looked into to whom the trademark rights of these names belong.

The application for trademark rights to KARA 3 years after debut

On December 7, 2010, Kara’s management company DSP Media filed an application for exclusive trademark rights to ‘KARA’, as written in English and not in Korean, for products pertaining to: Category 9 (downloadable music files), Category 35 (albums that include music/songs from trademark for large-scale distribution), Category 41 (concerts and exhibits, sound recordings).

What’s questionable about this action is that it came 3 years after Kara’s 2007 debut and a good month before the present situation regarding [Kara’s] contract termination.

It appears that until now KARA’s management company had an easygoing attitude toward trademark rights. But after experiencing increasing difficulties with the members and their parents, it appears the company decided to pre-empt the current situation. However, ‘CARA’ was already registered and its derivative ‘KARA’ is also a name associated with famous brands in clothing, cosmetics and even toys. So, [DSP] couldn’t do much about that. And when this news became public, it became an even bigger controversy.

Girl group Kara is becoming a social issue. ⓒDSP미디어

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[Trans] JYJ is the Genuine Representation of Today and Tomorrow’s Hallyu

JYJ is the Genuine Representation of Today and Tomorrow’s Hallyu (Korean Wave)

By chupa**** of Daum JYJ Telzone Gallery (Jan. 29 2011)

*Translator’s note: On 30th Jan. 2011, MBC plans to broadcast a special report on the Korean Wave. Hearing of this, Korean JYJ fans flooded the MBC public message board with requests that the report feature JYJ and that it doesn’t compromise or distort JYJ or their activities in any way. What follows below is a message left on the MBC public message board that I found especially powerful and moving.

Giant idol management companies and the associations formed to protect their interests are playing the Hallyu card. But, the Hallyu that they speak of and defend is not the pride of the Korean people but our shame. If Hallyu means using the dreams of the young to violate their human rights, if that is what is necessary for Hallyu to progress, it is a disgrace to our entire country. As an adult (Translator’s note: she’s an auntie), how am I supposed to show my face? A genuine Hallyu must be one that doesn’t oscillate with trends even after a long time but comes to fundamentally embody [our] culture.

You must have heard of the expression, ‘to sell rice before the harvest’ (Translator’s note: the English equivalent would be ‘to put the cart before the horse’). These idol management companies are doing just that, in a way that violates laws and playing with human beings no less. They rail about being betrayed and talk of their good graces [toward their idols], but have they ever worked with a mindset friendly to social welfare for the realisation of dreams? Scooping up talented children and youth then using their dreams and lives to secure corporate interests does not count.

Have you actually heard JYJ’s music?

Before you broadcast your piece, I highly recommend that you listen to JYJ’s songs.

They are the genuine alternative.

In entertainment programmes that push into the citizens’ faces perilously under-dressed minors and make sick perverts of us all, I have no interest. I want to see genuine singers and artists; I want to focus on the melody and the lyrics. It’s no wonder the giant management companies are afraid of JYJ: these three youths are talented, hard-working, sincere and never give up in the face of difficulties. It is now time for our entertainment industry to undergo the same kind of change. To the Korean people, who have always overcome life’s hardships with music and singing, GIVE US GENUINE SONGS!!!!

[JYJ] have what’s needed to unite people of all ages and expand our popular music to the rest of the world. Don’t block them.

I sincerely hope that broadcasting representatives have at least a little foresight.

As an adult, I’m cheering on JYJ because I do not want to stand ashamed in front of the generation that will replace us.

I therefore request that you release a broadcast that is filled with sincerity/integrity.

Original message was left HERE

Translated by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

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[Trans] The Fetters brought by Success to Under-modernised Enterprises

The Fetters brought by Success to Under-modernised Enterprises

The contract they couldn’t refuse as rookies

becomes thorn of contention upon earning fame

 

In the current entertainment system, where earnings

are not easy to come by, a ‘partnership’ model based on

understanding + distribution guidelines a necessity

The continuing conflicts between idols and their management

Lately, conflicts between famous idol groups like Dong Bang Shin Ki, Super Junior and Kara and their management companies over their exclusive contracts are increasing. The emerging consensus amongst music representatives and industry experts is that rather than blame one side or the other all efforts must be put into improving the industry’s outdated and underdeveloped business structure.

› Why reign in exclusive contracts? It is hardly breaking news that the exclusive contract favoured by the entertainment industry is causing problems. The typical contract is a 10-year long-term contract. Additionally, several of its terms that infringe upon the entertainers’ private life and human rights are also sources for problems. Another problem is the exorbitant penalty/exit fee that entertainers would have to pay to the management company to terminate their contracts, which essentially amounts to a tool for coercion that companies use to bind the entertainer to the company.

However, even given these disadvantageous terms, the majority of rookies sign such contracts without a word of complaint. Because of the fierce competition brought on by an over-supply of rookie artists, they are unable to refuse the terms of the contract. Then, in most cases, when these artists become famous their thoughts change. They start asking for terms and conditions that match their level of fame. Cases where other management companies offer better terms and lure away celebrities are also quite common.

› Why the excessive pre-debut investment? Management companies who handle the careers of singers especially exclaim that long-term contracts, high penalty fees for breach of contract, etc. are necessary to recover the costs invested during the pre-debut days. According to one industry insider, “When a rookie singer releases an album, the promotion costs related to media exposure alone cost at least 100,000 USD and at most 300,000-400,000 USD.” In the case of giant-size management companies, the pre-debut investment costs are even higher. For those who plan to have their charges enter foreign markets, they must also provide, in addition to dance and singing lessons, foreign language lessons, which only increases the time and money needed.

The problem is, even with all the costs invested, the earnings/return are actually hard to come by. Income from appearing on television shows is quite low, and the more one appears on these shows the more the costs for stylists and back dancers increase. Album and digital download sales also don’t bring in much profit. The commercials and endorsement deals that most experienced singers rely on for profit are not so profitable for rookies. One representative of a management company put it this way, “even if a rookie wins no.1 on a music programme, the money gained from this doesn’t amount to much, so for producers, even after 3 or 5 years, it’s hard to make ends meet,” and “aside from the giant entertainment companies, the majority of producers are struggling.”

› The radical solution? In spite of these risks and obstacles, a large number of producers continue to jump into the music business. It’s because of the lure of ‘daebak (explosive success)’ that comes with high-risk high-returns venture enterprises. And given the surplus of singer hopefuls, it’s not easy to improve outdated exclusive contracts or business practices. The emerging consensus amongst experts is that companies must improve their earnings distribution systems and not regard their signed singers as simply money-making machines but rather start gradually moving toward a radically updated model where singers are regarded as ‘partners’.

There are also voices expressing the need to change the current music chart system that is overly reliant on TV broadcasts and to deflate the promotion fees bubble. TV stations mustn’t simply try to comply with the promotion plans of management companies but seek out and give exposure to good quality music; similarly the public must start adopting the habit of looking for good music instead of passively accepting what’s being shown on TV shows. Digital download sites and telecommunication firms must also improve in their earnings distribution policies, and it’s a given that they must settle on a market mechanism that allows them to earn profits solely from distributing music and not from advertisements or special events. Related government agencies and the Fair Trade Commission must also be involved via regulatory and oversight mechanisms to ensure that unfairness/prejudicial activity in either the digital download market or in the content of exclusive contracts is an exception rather than the rule.

서정민 기자 westmin@hani.co.kr, <한겨레> 자료사진

 

Source: Hani.co.kr

Translation by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

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[FanAccount] JYJ v. SM Court Hearing Jan. 18

Editor’s Note: This is a fanaccount so please take that into consideration while reading.

[FanAccount] JYJ v. SM Court Hearing Jan. 18

Before I talk about today’s hearing, it’s important to bring up the circumstances surrounding the hearing before it opened and what was expected to happen.

At today’s hearing, Yoon Seong Hui, the Chief of Finance for SM, was supposed to stand as witness to testify about the earnings distribution and related items. What should be noted here is that Ms. Yoon is a witness requested by our boys’ side. This is because they are concluding under Article 103 of the Civil Code that their exclusive contract is unfair in content, among other things, in the way the profits and returns are distributed; in order to prove this it appears that they requested the witness testimony of the Chief of Finance [at SM]…

The purpose of having Ms. Yoon Seong Hui testify in court was to find out if the earnings distribution as stipulated in the contract was implemented in reality; what was the amount that SM distributed to Dong Bang Shin Ki; what were the methods used to determine the allotted income of each member; if the earnings were clearly announced; if there is documentary evidence relating to deducted expenses; how much exactly was distributed to the DBSK members at the end of the calculations; if accurate data on the costs and earnings distribution schemes were ever released and explained to the members, etc. However, Yoon Seong Hui never showed up to today’s hearing. I’ll explain in more detail below the reason why, but she wasn’t ready to answer the questions that JYJ’s side would have posed.

On Jan. 12, 2011, SM’s legal representatives submitted a request to the court to delay the hearing, but since this was a request made unilaterally without securing an agreement from JYJ’s side and because there was no outstanding reason to postpone the hearing, the court dismissed the request.

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[Trans] Dong Bang Shin Ki, Kara…A Government Meeting to Address the Basic Rights of Idols

Dong Bang Shin Ki, Kara…A Government Meeting to Address the Basic Rights of Idols

By ChristianToday Reporter Lee Dae Ung dwlee@chtoday.co.kr

Participants include government officials, media representatives and entertainment management representatives

In light of recurring incidents involving idols (teenage entertainers), such as those involving Dong Bang Shin Ki and Kara, which have exposed ‘slave contracts’, the head producers of three broadcasting stations, representatives from entertainment management companies and related officials and representatives convened a government meeting to cooperate over the protection of idols’ basic rights. Held on the morning of the 26th at the council chamber of the Ministry of Gender and Family in Seoul, the participants included the Minister-in-charge of youth from the Ministry of Gender and Family Baik Hui Young, KBS chief of media contents Gil Hwan Young, MBC chief producer Cho Joong Hyeon, , SBS chief producer Pai Cheol Ho, the representative from Media Line Kim Chang Hwan, the representative from CAN Entertainment Kang Seung Ho, the representative of Music Factory Kim Tae Hyeong as well as representatives from other entertainment management companies. Officials from the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, the Korean Communications Commission, the Fair Trade Commission and other related agencies also participated.

November of last year, four related government agencies investigated the situation of teenage entertainers, especially with regards to sexual health and protection as well as education, and released a report with detailed policy recommendations on how to maintain underage entertainers’ entertainment activities in a fair environment. Since then, the government has moved on the Pop Culture and Arts Business Act as well as other laws laying down regulations and standards for the protection of teenage entertainers, and on the 3rd of this month the Fair Trade Commission opened investigations into the practice of inappropriate bodily exposure of teenage entertainers and will be moving to enforce a ban on such activities through consumer-oriented policies, an action plan and the imposition of the model contract for pop culture and arts industries.

Minister Baik Hui Young declared, “As the entertainment industry continues to accelerate, the number of underage entertainers are on the rise; unfortunately, accompanying problems such as unfair exclusive contracts and [the difficulty to] guarantee of their basic rights are also on the rise,” and “from now on the government and broadcasters, along with management companies, must work together to create an environment where underage entertainers can be protected whilst undertaking their entertainment activities.”

Afterwards, there was a session to discuss difficulties and listen to current opinions.

Source: Christiantoday.co.kr

Translation by: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

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[Op-ed] Korea’s Insatiable Idol Worship: A Postmodern Tragicomedy

Disclaimer: This is just my opinion based purely on my personal observations and nothing more. I do not claim any academic or professional merit to this piece. I am only commenting on the larger societal trends I have noted in Korea’s idol culture, and it is not my intent to target or bash any particular idol. The sole object of this piece is to critique arguments and logic, not the people who have espoused them.

Korea’s Insatiable Idol Worship: A Postmodern Tragicomedy

By: Jimmie of TheJYJFiles

For a country that purports to be at once the most atheistic—a little more than half the population claims to believe nothing—and the most monotheist—four of the world’s 10 largest churches (by congregation) are located here—Korea sure does love its idols. Young, pretty and dressed to the nines in flashy clothes and the ideal personality, they come in sets of four, five, nine and even thirteen. They are capable of attracting an army of fanatical followers. Their songs are played ad nauseam in every corner of the country. Their faces fill up the four corners of our television sets. In fact, there is hardly a television show or radio corner that is not dedicated to or run by some idol or other.

Is it perhaps because this nation, sandwiched all its life between two powerful empires and constantly under threat of attack, has always needed and sought heroes? Could this be why Koreans are so prone to making heroes and to hero worship?

And more or less, the Zeitgeist has been gracious enough to provide Korea with unexpected heroes at exactly the right time. Kim Yushin, Lee Soonshin, the more controversial Park Junghee and Kim Daejoong have all entered the national scene exactly when such personalities were needed most, in spite of circumstances that should have made their existence and entrance impossible. But now, in this day and age, even with the looming threat up North, the Korean public has little need for those kinds of heroes, yet the insatiable desire for hero-worship remains. And so a significant portion of the public turns to ‘idols’, investing in them all the their hopes, dreams, ideals and expectations…essentially moulding them into surrogates of perfection. The adoration and fervour that the public showers on idols is enough to convince anyone that these idols are indeed immortals. It appears that many of the idols themselves believe themselves to be immortals.

Yet, the recent dramarama on Twitter involving Kim Junsu of JYJ and several big-name SM idols show otherwise. What the self-righteous replies of these idols—replies that never failed to reference the necessity for “gratefulness” to the Powers-that-Be—exposed is not an unquestionable connection to the self-sustaining Divine but an inability to escape this ephemeral, No Guarantee humanity. It is both unfortunate and amusing, much like something out of the Theatre of the Absurd, that these idols don’t understand who their true Masters are. Just as the OBS producer stated with sharp precision, the Power that idols truly owe their allegiance to is not their management company or CEO but their fans and, through their fans, the larger Korean public.

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What could Korean entertainment agencies learn from their Japanese counterparts?

What could Korean entertainment agencies learn from their Japanese counterparts?

January 25, 2011

The increasingly contentious ’slave contract’ issue has grown to such proportions that even international companies are sitting up to take notice. After observing the cases of JYJSM Entertainment and KARA-DSP Media, many Japanese entertainment agencies have been voicing their confusion over why contract terminations are imploding into such a controversial issue.

Contract terminations are rarely seen in the Japanese music industry. Case-in-point, the idol group SMAP, who debuted back in 1991, are still going strong even after 20 years as one of the most popular groups in the idol industry.

Japanese agency representatives believe that the key ingredient to their idol group’s longevity is the fair and reasonable conditions of the contracts signed. “In TVXQ’s case, the main problem stems from the 13 year contract deal, whereas in Japan, a one or two year contract is the norm,” stated a representative of a magazine company affiliated with five major media companies in Japan.

In other words, the Japanese agencies utilize a system based off personal incentives – if a group attains popularity and earns a solid profit during their contract period, that group will receive a higher salary for the following year. Other methods include enforcing a monthly pay schedule, which in turn allows for less-popular celebrities to pay for their living expenses, and thus strengthen their loyalty with the company.

A special characteristic about Japanese entertainment agencies are the humane relationships shared between the company and their artists. An seasoned representative of Japanese celebrity management companies said, “It’s not about dealing with celebrities as ‘items’; it’s about managing them with an equal understanding and relationship as human beings.”

There was a case back in 2009 when a Japanese actress/model’s contract impressed all those who read its details. “We do not tolerate the emotional and physical pain of labor force,” it said. “Schedules must always be adjusted in order to develop the greatest skills of our models and actresses.”

The CEO of this small agency, Sasaki Masumi, stated, “It’s part of the entertainment business to run into difficulties in managing celebrities as they are our ‘products’, but it’s not just about simply managing a celebrity; I also focus on helping them develop as an actor by instilling in them a deeper knowledge of their craft.”

However, that’s not to say that the Japanese music industry doesn’t see artists leaving their companies due to complications or differences in opinion. Although the majority of artists leave a company because they couldn’t attain as much popularity as they wanted, there are also many cases where the celebrities earn even more fame for leaving a company, like ex-idol actor Masahiro Motoki (2009 Academy Award winner for Okuribio). For JYJ’s case, however, this is the first time a group has been blocked from public music programs by the force of their powerful ex-agency for fleeing the company.

Netizens made comments such as, “The principle of someone becoming a betrayer just because they left after been taken care of doesn’t many any sense. The agency is blocking their activities and making a hindrance… Was it even right for them to take care of them in the first place. I’m a bit skeptical, but they definitely should give back the amount they’ve grown and give them the right of choice” and “I believe there is a lot to learn from these foreign cases.

Source: Hani via Nate

Translation by: VITALWARNING of Allkpop

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