Earlier this month, EXO‘s teaser video titled “EXO 2015 COMING SOON” was made unavailable on SMTOWN‘s YouTube channel due to a copyright claim by Swedish graphic designer Erik Söderberg. According to the designer, SM Entertainment had used graphics by him and two other international graphic designers without permission, and that SM Entertainment did not respond to their inquiries, leaving them no other option but to report the video to YouTube.
The company behind the teaser video, VM Production, soon responded by claiming that the video “is absolutely not plagiarism.” The producers stated that they had paid for the graphics featured in the teaser and settled the issue with the artists, and the teaser video was made available again on YouTube.
Jo Beom Jin, the director of the video, has now taken to his Facebook account to share his frustration with the recent plagiarism claims. According to him, the company had been in touch with only one graphic designer, who demanded higher pay following the release of the teaser. After paying him according to the demands, they recently found out that another designer had been involved in the production of the graphics, which the first designer had not mentioned to the producers. This misunderstanding had caused the video to be blocked on YouTube, and to solve the issue, the second designer was compensated for his work. The director, however, appears to be doubtful of the actual motivations of the artists, and expresses his annoyance with the whole situation.
The full Facebook message, translated, reads:
I was informed that there were problems with EXO’s teaser released in December. As I had just returned from a month-long overseas shoot, I had no chance to explain myself, and everything passed by in a blur. I even heard things that made it sound like everything was solved with money. Now, where should I start?
Around two months ago, we sent requests to two foreign designers, asking to purchase 3-4 second clips of their work to be used in our project. One of them, however, gave us a hard time throughout the project due to late responses and miscommunication. I started having doubts after the designer started demanding more money than what was initially discussed right after we released the video. I wanted to delete the material and rage at the designer, who demanded such a sum for graphics that did not even play a big role in the video, but which I inserted to the video. Due to our tight schedule, however, the video had already gone viral, and we had no choice but to accept the demands. With mixed feelings, we paid the amount [to the designer], and I thought that would mark the end of the case.
A couple of days ago, I was told that there’s a problem [with the video] on YouTube. Wondering what it might be, I found out that it was due to infringement of copyright. Making everything even more confusing, the person who reported it to YouTube was not the one who I had been in touch with, but someone completely different. As we had already finished talks about the pay, I did not understand what was going on. I contacted the designer that we had problems with, but it was hard to reach him. After finally getting in touch with him, I demanded an explanation for what was going on. I found out that there had been a collaborator. The designer negotiated the compensation without telling us about this. I wonder why he didn’t inform us in the beginning. What about the numerous calls that we had until now? Everything felt completely absurd. We could have complained about it, but as the video had already been released, we had less negotiation power.
After contacting the other designer that reported about the problem to YouTube, as if everything was planned, he requested the same sum as the problematic designer. Exhausted, we did not want to make the case any more serious, and we thought listening to his demands would help settle the case. Moreover, we could not cause any further harm or discomfort to our client. So, we transferred the money [to the artist].
As if everything was a lie, YouTube returned back to normal, and judging from his Twitter and blog, where he had left short and almost joyful messages, it looked like nothing had happened. Everything was coming to an end.
I started to feel skeptical.
I doubt anyone in their right mind would get voluntarily involved in a plagiarism case over graphics that have nothing to do with the overall flow of the video.
I feel like this project, which was supposed to be produced with a pure and joyful mindset, has been tarnished due to some foreign businessmen.