The Korea Herald


Culture Ministry vows to protect creators' rights

By Park Ga-young

Published : March 15, 2023 - 17:08

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Scene from the theatrical release of the “Black Rubber Shoes” movie released in 2022 (Saehan Production) Scene from the theatrical release of the “Black Rubber Shoes” movie released in 2022 (Saehan Production)

Just three days after the news of the death of the cartoonist of the original "Black Rubber Shoes" broke, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced a series of measures to prevent similar tragedies.

On Wednesday, the ministry announced that it plans to include specific provisions concerning secondary works in the standard contract for the comics field. Secondary works are creative works created by modifying, adapting or producing videos from the original. Under the plan, the standard contract will stipulate that the original author has the right to create and use such secondary works.

Cartoon artist Lee Woo-young, one of the creators behind the original hit comic book and animated series “Black Rubber Shoes,” was found dead Saturday by his family members. His family said he was going through a difficult time due to recent legal proceedings with a local animation firm over the latter violating the copyright for “Black Rubber Shoes” and releasing the episodes on streaming platforms like Netflix.

Lee and his brother and co-creator, Woo-jin, were also sued by the head of a publishing company in 2019 that had taken over the copyright and business rights for "Black Rubber Shoes." The publishing house filed a lawsuit for 286 million won ($219,000) in damages against Lee and Woo-jin for allegedly using the characters without the company's consent.

Lee had expressed frustration at being unable to be involved with derivative works such as animations and games based on his original creation, and said that he did not receive any notification during the process about the creation of secondary works.

The ministry will also add a provision in the standard contract that requires prior consent from the original creator for third-party contracts related to the work.

The standard contract for the comics industry is expected to be released in June, according to the ministry.

The ministry will review 82 standard contracts across 15 fields, including the comics sector, to ensure that they are fair to the original creators.

The ministry said that it will expand educational programs for creators and establish guidelines based on copyright cases as well as a hotline for comic creators. It also vowed to cooperate to help pass a bill on enhancing fair distribution and mutual cooperation in cultural industries that is pending at the National Assembly.