Plagiarism Debate Halts Lee Hyo-lee

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

Sexy K-pop star Lee Hyo-lee is laying low for at least two weeks as her second album title song, "Get Ya,” is embroiled in a plagiarism controversy.

According to her agent, Lee will return soon with another song in the album, saying the break is partially related to the issue. "There is a reason, to a degree, that we want to get away from the center of the controversy,” Lee’s agency, DSP, said while denying the accusation.

Britney Spears’ songwriters said the Korean number had "partially plagiarized” "Do Something,” a song they wrote for the American singer, according to Universal Music Publishing , which has Korean copyrights for Spears’ music.

Kevin Cho, general manager of Universal Music Publishing Korea, said although the company has no intention of taking legal action, the company sent their complaint to Kim Do-hyun, composer of "Get Ya.”

Cho said they were seeking a settlement of undisclosed terms, but had not yet received a response from Kim.

Kim and DSP have maintained that the Lee’s song is not the result of plagiarism. Kim has said that although he was inspired and influenced by the Spears’ song, he did not copy it directly. Kim is currently unavailable for comment.

Since Lee’s second album was released in early February, music listeners have consistently pointed out and raised their concerns through the Internet that the song is very similar to "Do Something”.

It soon became a major setback to the Lee who was enjoying great popularity with the song on various music shows and pop charts. Since becoming embroiled in the plagiarism issue, Lee has canceled all broadcasting schedules related to "Get Ya”. She is expected to return to TV around mid-April with another song from her second album.

"Since the controversy became such an important social issue, I could not but ask the opinion from the composer of `Do Something’ on Lee’s song,” said Cho. “It is regretful that this is becoming an international issue, degrading the image of ”.

Lim Jin-mo, a pop music critic, said the case serves as a good example that music fans themselves can be an effective watchdog of plagiarism. "People’s keen attention is the best way to prevent plagiarism”, he said.

It is not the first time that Korean pop songs have been accused of plagiarism. "Mask”, title song of singer Lee Seung-gi’s recently released second album was also suspected of having plagiarized "This Love” by American pop band Maroon 5.

However, Lee’s agency made a public announcement that the two songs sound similar as Lee’s song features a "musical sampling,” a composing skill using some part of the original song as motive, hence concluding a quick settlement with the composer of "This Love”.

Other numerous pop stars including the now disbanded groups H.O.T and Roo’ra, popular trio Koyote, and singer and actor Kim Min-jong, were also involved in accusations of plagiarism.

"Before, whenever a song was questioned over plagiarism, the composer of the suspected song would make a prompt settlement with the composer of the original song, keeping the controversy from becoming the talk of the town,” Lim said. "However, this time, if Lee Hyo-lee’s controversy is dealt with in court, it is very likely that it will be charged with plagiarism.”

"Even if a composer is entitled to a use of sampling, as long as the song lacks its own creativity, it is right that the composer gets permission from the original composer so that the composer does not become involved in shameful charges of plagiarism”, said Lim.

Currently, there is no specific domestic law regulating plagiarism. When the original composer raises questions, he or she is to make settlement with the suspected composer or file lawsuits.

[email protected]

03-31-2006 18:41