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Bae Yong-joon Sues for Copyright Violation

2005/06/15 Source

SEOUL (Yonhap) _ Bae Yong-joon, star of South Korean soap opera "Winter Sonata", filed a damages suit against three local companies on Tuesday, claiming his portrait was illegally used by them last year in the production of a compilation music album that targeted the Japanese market.

The suit for compensation of a total 500 million won ($492,500) was filed with the Seoul District Court by Bae and two other superstars Lee Byung-hun and Jang Dong-gun.

The three are immensely popular in neighboring Asian countries, particularly Japan, for their lead roles in teledramas "Winter Sonata", "Beautiful Days" and the blockbuster film "Taegukgi", respectively.

In the suit filed against GM Entertainment, Post Entertainment, or POIBOS, and Webvisions, the petitioners are seeking compensation for unlicensed use of their image and infringement of their publicity rights.

The three stars claim the latter two companies mass produced and distributed a compilation music video album titled "Memory" which contained their images in photos and videos taken without license from the 2001 album "Sympathy", produced by GM Entertainment.

"GM Entertainment handed over the photo and video images to the two other companies without permission from the petitioners. They dealt a blow to the petitioners' future activities in Japan as they distributed the stars' re-edited old images to Japanese fans", claimed Bae's manager, Yang Geun-hwan.

In addition to the compensation suit, Bae's agency is preparing seven other lawsuits over unlicensed uses of his image.

"Aside from the serious problem of unlicensed use of his image, releasing a sloppily produced album containing re-edited photos of South Korean stars to the Japanese market would be no good to South Korea's national image", said Song Wan-mo, a director of Player Entertainment that oversees marketing activities in Japan for Lee.

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