South Korea To Review Copyright Laws: Could It Be The End For K-Pop Fansites And Fancams?
On December 11, the South Korean national assemblymember Kim Hong Geol has motioned for a review of the current copyright legislation and proposed to ban unauthorized photo/videography and/or broadcasting of live performances.
Should the amendment go through and get passed, the new copyright law will become more punitive than it is now. Any original content that gets recorded, videographed, or live broadcasted without the content creator’s permission would become a direct violation of the law — and could lead to a prison sentence of less than 12 months or a fine of less than ₩10,000,000 KRW ($9,090 USD).
Assemblymember Kim insisted the amendment will eventually benefit the performing arts and related markets.
The amended legislation will boost the overall concept and understanding of copyright law and prevent its rampant violation in the performing arts sector.
— Assemblymember Kim Hong Geol
Since then, K-Pop fans have grown curious as to how the new law would affect the culture of “Home-ma“s (홈마), or fansites. As of now, countless idol fansites offer what is “technically illegal” content — though without any real consequences to face. Once the new law passes, however, all home-ma content — including fan cams and unofficial merchandise — would be risking a lot more.
The debate is fierce. Some K-Pop fans have welcomed the amendment, pointing out how “fansites have always been somewhat of a nuisance at performances” because of their inevitably competitive nature and bulky equipment.
Entertainment industry insiders also spoke in favor of the amendment, claiming how fansites can pose physical danger to not only the celebrities, but also themselves at times.
Plus, some entertainment agencies looked forward to the amendment as it would overall lead to fans turning to official merchandises as opposed to fansite-made ones.
It’s true that agencies have trouble penalizing fansites from violating copyright laws because they are still considered “fans” — and the last thing we want to do is “punish” fans. But agencies would obviously prefer the fans to focus on official contents and merchandises. Should the amendment help agencies protect themselves and prevent violations, it would be a positive change for the industry.
— Anonymous Entertainment Agency Representative
Meanwhile, other idol fans argued fansites are — especially now with the globalization of K-Pop — an inseparable part of the culture.
But what would K-Pop be without fansites (and so their fan cams)…? It’s not like the agencies are, in turn, giving the fans same kind of quality content, as much and as often as fansites do. They can’t possibly think they accomplished everything they did without the help from such fansites?
— K-Pop Fan
And though they agree with the importance of protecting copyrights, these fans claimed, “Fansites can play a huge part in making or breaking a group“. Even agencies pointed out that fansite content can serve as gateways for new fans by “attracting attention” — and so they sometimes even “opt to overlook the violations at concerts“.
Yes, in the long run, copyright violation is a problem that needs to be fixed… But agencies are aware of how fansites produce unofficial merchandises. More often than not, these products create buzz. They end up having a positive impact on idols — especially rookies — because these “go viral” and help the groups attract attention.
—Anonymous Entertainment Agency Representative
The amendment is still in progress and is yet to be announced whether the revision has passed or not. Until the final word, it seems the discussion will remain on the table.
Read more about the lives of home-mas here: