Public performance of commercial video in Korea

The copyright law of Korea is quite generous to the public performance of copyrighted works. The relevant section of the Korean Copyright Act is Article 26:

Article 26 (Public Performance and Broadcasting for Non-profit Purposes)

(1) It shall be permissible to perform publicly or broadcast a work already being made public for non-profit purposes and without charging any fees to audience, spectators or third persons; provided that the performers concerned are not paid any remuneration for such performances.
(2) Commercial phonograms or cinematographic works may be reproduced and played for the public, if no admission fee is charged to audience or spectators, except the cases as prescribed by the Presidential Decree.

So, the key criteria is whether the performance is for fee or for free. The Enforcement Decree that details the above Article by classifying what kinds of commercial establishments must get the copyright owner’s permission and what kinds don’t.

Pursuant to the law and decree, it has been the generally accepted practice that government agencies, local governments, and quasi-governmental bodies such as public art centers played commercial videos for internal purposes or for public viewing without copyright owners’ permissions since they didn’t charge viewer for admission.

A recent amendment to the Korean Copyright Act Enforcement Decree specifically prohibits such practices with regard to commercial videos that are no older than 6 months from the publication. Announcement by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Korea. The Amendment will go into effect on March 1, 2006. This Amendment makes use of the exception clause of the Article 26(2) of the Copyright Act quoted above.

What the Amendment actually does in terms of statutory interpretation is to expand the scope of the exception clause of the Copyright Act Article 26(2) so that it covers commericial videos that are published not more than 6 months ago. I don’t think I’m the only one who sees the trend of Article 26(2) shrinking.

Comparable U.S. Copyright Act provisions are Section 110.

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