Definition of Copyright in Korea: Ideas vs. Expressions

Supreme Court Decision 93Da3073 delivered on June 8, 1993【Damages】

Translation of Official Court Summary 

a. The work protected by the Copyright Act shall be a creative work that expresses human thoughts and emotions, which is obtained by a human’s intellectual effort related to study and art, and thus what the Copyright Act protects is a creative expression form in which thoughts and emotions are expressed externally in detail by language, letter, sound, color, etc. The content of expression itself, such as thoughts and emotions of an idea or a theory, is basically not a work and shall not be protected as an author’s moral right or property right according to the Copyright Act even if it has originality and novelty, however the storyline of a novel is protected by the Act. Particularly, in case of a work included in the realm of scholarship, since academic content shall be common to anyone and shall be allowed for anyone to use without restriction, the copyright’s object for protection is not academic content, but creative expression.

b.  Copyright’s object of protection is not an idea, but an expression that is limited to the personal part, when the author’s originality is shown, and therefore while deciding if there is practical similarity between the two works to tell whether or not the copyright is infringed, the object compared shall be limited to expression and the original part.

Translations of Korean Court Entertainment Law Cases (Court Summaries)

_____Sean Hayes may be contacted at:

Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal. He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.

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