Intellectual property is an intellectual issue for content producers

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Cho Eun-hwa, head of Kakao Entertainment’s legal team, speaks at the 2022 Content Dispute Resolution Forum at the Sofitel Ambassador Seoul hotel in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on Tuesday. [KOCCA]

The local content industry is still grappling with the new concept of intellectual property (IP) for original content that is branching out, according to insiders at the 2022 Content Dispute Resolution Forum co-hosted by the Ministry of Justice. Culture, Sports and Tourism, Korea Creative Content Agency and Content Dispute Resolution Committee.

The notion of IP, which cropped up from time to time as webtoons, web novels and books began to be actively adapted for the screen, hit the local industry following the global success of ” Squid Game” from Netflix (2021).

Although its creator Hwang Dong-hyuk came up with the concept and directed the dystopian hit, the deal with Netflix is ​​for the streaming giant to take over both the worldwide distribution rights and the show’s intellectual property, as he takes full financial responsibility for the original series, which now also includes all of its related content, from merchandise to the upcoming reality show “Squid Game: The Challenge.”

The IPs of webtoons and web novels are now in the spotlight as local production studios view them as a treasure trove of quality stories that can be turned into movies or dramas. Some of the most popular series that went viral globally in recent years were derived from webtoons or web novels, such as JTBC’s “Itaewon Class” (2019) and “Nevertheless” (2021), the Netflix series “Sweet Home” (2020), OCN’s “The Uncanny Encounter” (2020-21), tvN’s “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim” (2018) and “Yumi’s Cells” (2020-21) and SBS’s “Business Proposal” ( 2022).

Series such as “Itaewon Class,” “The Uncanny Encounter,” “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim,” and “Business Proposal” were adapted from Kakao Entertainment’s Kakao Webtoon, which is known to own more than 10,000 IP addresses of its webtoons and web novels.

“In the past, the majority of webtoons were referred to as OSOU, short for One Source One Use,” Cho Eun-hwa, head of Kakao Entertainment’s legal team, said at the forum held at Sofitel. Ambassador Seoul Hotel in Jamsil, southern Seoul, on Tuesday. “But now they are labeled as One Source Multi Use, or OSMU, and can be made into drama series, movies, animations and games. It is natural for the industry to adapt the secondary content of these platforms which already have some guarantee of success of its original content.

Kakao Entertainment has grown into a production powerhouse in its own right, with more than 50 music labels and a dozen actor management companies under its wing.

“One of the most common content production disputes today is between the original intellectual property owner and the production studios,” Cho said. “The creators behind the original IPs want the value of their original content to be fully recognized, into which they’ve put their all, while from a studio profit-seeking perspective, they’re jumping into the unknown. , betting on large-scale investments for content that can either be a success or a failure.

Cho gave the example of Kakao TV’s original series “No, Thank You” (2020, 2022), adapted from the hugely popular webtoon titled “Myeoneuragi” (2019), which loosely translates to daughter-in-law. The series depicts the unfair realities of married life for Korean women by featuring a newly married protagonist. The webtoon, which was originally released as a series on Instagram, has resonated with married Korean women who clash with their in-laws.

According to Cho, a dispute started when Kakao decided to create another new season of the series. Although the series continues to base its characters on the original webtoon, the plot itself was created by its in-house writers.

“Original writer Soo Shin-ji claimed that she also owns the copyright for Season 2 of the series, as it is based on her characters from the original webtoon,” Cho said. “The studio initially struggled to assess whether another season of the series would also be considered secondary webtoon-derived content, but since we’re basing the series on the same characters, we’ve decided to split the profits of the series as well. season 2 with Shin.”

Cho believes the ever-changing pace of the content industry will also provide the foundation for securing the rights of intellectual property owners.

“Production studios and entertainment companies will try to resolve issues amicably with IP owners rather than cause controversy, because it’s more important to release high-quality content when things are settled rather than to devote energy to legal disputes,” she said.

BY LEE JAE-LIM [[email protected]]

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