Gov't to revise law to better protect music copyrights

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- The government is pushing for a law revision that would charge all large-scale shops full copyright fees for playing music files in their stores, the culture ministry said Wednesday.

The present copyright law requires those who play "music albums produced for sale" in public to pay compensation to performers and producers of the music separately from royalties that go to the music's copyright holders, such as composers and writers.

However, there has been confusion over whether it is illegal for operators of department stores, restaurants and coffee shops to play digitalized versions of music albums in their shops without paying fees to those who performed and produced the music.

In April, a Seoul district court ruled that Hyundai Department Store Co., one of the three largest department store operators in South Korea, has no duty to pay fees for playing music files at their stores based on the provision.

In an effort to remove such confusion, the ministry said it has already submitted to National Assembly a proposal of the revision last week and is seeking to make more changes in cooperation with several ruling party lawmakers.

"We respect the court decision but need to clear disparity between reality and the law because obeying the decision will lead to a result opposite of what the copyright law intends," Kim Gi-hong, a ministry official in charge of planning the copyright protection policy, told reporters.

The government bill calls for replacing the term "music albums produced for sale" with just "music albums" that include a digitalized format, so singers, music players and producers can receive due compensation for the use of their work at shops, the ministry said.

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