"Fair Use" Korean Copyright law

Appeared in the Korea Times on Jan. 25, 2008

Dear Professor Hayes : I am in the process of completing a book on the modern history of the Republic of Korea. A good deal of my work cites news reports, published journals, and first hand reports mentioned in other books, Web sites and personal blogs. My book chronicles the modern developments from the eyes of foreigners who reside or resided in Korea. My publisher wants to confirm that Korea has a "fair use" doctrine, therefore, allowing me to cite the works of others.

Author in Rhode Island

Dear Author : In general, the copyright holders, in Korea, may solely economically exploit a copyrighted work for the life of the author of the work plus 50 years.

Korean Copyright Law provides that copyright infringers may be held liable in civil court and even punished in criminal court. In recent years, the Korean prosecution has been vigorous in prosecuting copyright infringers and the court system has been more willing to hand out sizeable monetary damages in the civil court and jail sentences for repeat offenders in criminal courts.

However, the Korean Copyright Act provides "fair use" type exceptions. Korea, theoretically, doesn't have a fair use doctrine, but the exceptions enumerated in Section 6 of the Copyright Act under the heading Limitations on Authors' Property Rights acts in a similar manner as the commonly understood notion of "fair use."

For example, Article 25 of the Copyright Act permits making "quotations from a work already made public, if they are within a reasonable limit for news reports, criticism, education and research, etc., and are compatible with fair practice."

However, the user of the work, as stated in Article 34, must clearly indicate the source of the quotations.

Courts have interpreted these clauses to allow even lengthy quotations from copyrighted works if the work manages to expound on the work in a meaningful manner.

Hence, author, if your work is an original work that uses only "quotations" from other works and clearly cites that the quotations are from other works you should not be in jeopardy of violating the rights of the copyright holder.

The Korean Copyright Law may be found for a fee at the Korean Legislative Research Institute Web site at http://elaw.klri.re.kr/indexE.jsp.