Right to Publicity/Portrait in Korea: Entertainment Law Basics in Korea

Recently, the Seoul Central District Court delivered a decision that it is the violation of one right to publicity/portrait rights for a person to share an image on a public site for commercial purposes without a publisher’s consent (Seoul Central District Court 2015GaDan5324874).

Mr. A posted photos of himself on his Instagram Page.  Mr. B re-posted those photos on Naver's Band without Mr. A’s consent.  Band is a social media site.

C company also posted the photos on Facebook without Mr. A’s consent.  Thus, Mr. A's photos were reposted from Mr. A's Instagram Page and posted on Naver's Band by an individual and posted on Facebook by a company.  Seemingly, the purpose of the re-postings was to promote the page and products of Mr. B and Company C.  The Seoul attorneys for Mr. B and Company C argued that the terms of Instagram allowed the re-posting of the pictures.

Instagram notes in its terms and conditions of use, that photos placed on Instagram may be shared freely.

Nevertheless, the Seoul Central District Court ruled that Mr. A's pictures may not be shared on any other person's pages without the consent of Mr. A if the images are being utilized for commercial purposes.

Therefore, Mr. B and Company C must compensate Mr. A for damages since Mr. B and Mr. C, among other things, violated Mr. A’s portrait rights notwithstanding the rules governing Instagram.

The court awarded damages to Mr. A for the violation of Mr. A's publicity/portrait rights.