Statutory license

The statutory license system is a system that can be used when legal reasons arise such as cases where right holders of works are not tracked down, despite considerable efforts to find them. Under the statutory license system, the state or organization with authority approves the use of the works on behalf of voluntary license of copyright owners, allowing the user who applies for statutory license to use the work. This system is designed to contribute to cultural development through social utilization of works.

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Eligible cases for applying for statutory license

  1. 1. Where any person, despite his considerable efforts, cannot identify the owner of an author’s property rights in a work made public or his place of residence and therefore is unable to obtain the authorization of the author for its exploitation.
    (Article 50 (1) of the Act)
  2. 2. Where a broadcasting organization which intends to broadcast a work already made public for the sake of the public benefit has negotiated with the owner of author’s property rights but failed to reach an agreement. (Article 51 of the Act)
  3. 3. If three years have passed after the date of the first sale of a commercial phonogram in the Republic of Korea and if any person who intends to produce a commercial phonogram by recording works already recorded on such a phonogram has negotiated with the owner of author’s property rights but failed to reach an agreement. (Article 52 of the Act)
    • The provisions of statutory authorization of works apply not only to the use of works, but also to the use of neighboring works such as live performances, phonograms and broadcasting. In the case of the use of database, only the first and second cases apply.
    • The old Act did not particularly exclude works by foreigners if the owner of an author’s property right is unknown. However, revision has been made to the Act to allow application of statutory license only for works by nationals, as the statutory license, even though useful for the exploitation of works of unknown authors, limits exclusive rights of the right owner. It thus allows the free use of works by foreigners through an administrative order based on the domestic law for the reason that if their whereabouts are unknown it might violate international conventions.