Not giving credit to original creators and artists is becoming the newest trend in the K-pop landscape. From dance moves to actual songs, copies of previously produced work are popping up. Plagiarism allegations are thrown around almost willy-nilly and heartily disproved in cases such as Roy Kim‘s “Bom Bom Bom,” Rain‘s “Busan Woman,” SHINee’s “Dream Girl,” etc. Covers and remakes are harmless and actually usually celebrated — if done well. However, an issue arises when there is no credit given. When such things are discovered, the scramble to cover one’s behind is on, and sometimes the offenders produce ridiculous excuses for their actions.
The latest, and probably lamest, excuse for not giving credit for work comes from Lee Seung Chul. The legendary artist had provided a cover of Kim Junsu’s “I’m in Love” for the You’re All Surrounded OST. Sounds innocuous enough, until fans started noticing the track was being touted as a new release. Although he received permission from both Junsu and the song’s writer, they were not credited as the original artists in the soundtrack information. Lee Seung Chul’s excuse for such an oversight: no true apology and – in probably the douchiest move this year – a statement that you don’t have to provide credit when doing a remake because making the song number one on the charts is good enough. Additionally, he said that fans shouldn’t ask a senior singer for an apology.
Naturally, that is not sitting too well with fans, as it should be remembered that JYJ can’t even promote in Korea. A simple “sorry” would have sufficed. And Lee Seung Chul isn’t the first, and probably won’t be the last, to put forth a shameful excuse for noncredit. So, what other offenders have there been with some lame reasons for lacking credit or simply plagiarizing? Let’s take a look.
Illionaire Records: No time.
Hip-hop music is big on sampling, whether good or bad. Usually these samplings are obvious and credited. However, Beenzino got into a bit of trouble with his single “Dali, Van, Picasso” released earlier this year, although the problem was actually with composer Peejay. So, what did Illionaire Records have to say about the situation? They stated they didn’t have time to check if there was a sample. Certainly the song wasn’t created overnight or done hastily. Nor was everyone involved doing too many other things. Surely one person could have asked and researched whether Peejay had essentially sampled a sample.
Purplay and I.aM.mE: Oops, our bad.
Borrowing dance moves is becoming more and more prevalent, especially with the increasing importance of making a strong impact at debut. If you claim that you participated in the choreography, you’d better be prepared for the attention –- especially if it follows the discovery of your using someone else’s choreography. Purplei Entertainment’s response when criticized for not crediting I.aM.mE (or even asking permission first) for using the choreographer’s dance moves was to simply say that they didn’t know until after the teaser came out. Clearly, they weren’t on top of things and were suckered by whoever the group’s choreographer was – whether an outsider or the girls themselves, as the label claimed. Pleading innocent and naive seems like a classic “plausible deniability” move and lacks originality.
Pledis vs. Camillo Lauricella: It was a coincidence.
Thanks to YouTube, dances spread quickly. That becomes a problem when those moves are seen again when done by someone else later. When After School came back with “Bang!,” they were hit with accusations of plagiarizing the dance moves of Camillo Lauricella. Pledis Entertainment’s response was largely condescending. The company claimed that dance is universal so sometimes there will be similar dance moves and went on to add that you can’t say three seconds of dance moves is plagiarism. While it’s true that basic steps repeat themselves consistently, to claim that even three seconds of dance don’t matter is a bit ludicrous and insult to the original choreographer. (Sadly, the videos of Lauricella’s claims and response have been removed.)
Pledis Again: It’s homage.
Pledis Entertainment is on this list twice because they just stink at expressing common sense when hit with plagiarism accusations. In 2011, After School Blue released the cute track “Wonder Boy.” Cute songs are nothing new and have been around since the days of Fin.K.L. But that was the problem: claims of plagiarism of Fin.K.L’s “Forever Love” arose. Pledis admitted that they were influenced by the Fin.K.L track and wanted to replicate its feeling. Okay, that’s possible without being so similar to the original artist’s song. However, Pledis went farther to say that they never intended to plagiarize but rather pay homage to the image of “Forever Love.” Oh, and After School Blue’s charms make it totally different from Fin.K.L. Fine, we’ll try to buy that.
Some labels and artists seem to simply choose to stay silent –- at least that’s what I gathered from research. Comments from SM Entertainment regarding their multiple dance rip-offs are largely absent, or at least not readily available. And sometimes silence is deafening.
Others opt to take the easy way out with the stance of “Sorry, I’ll try harder to not allow my influences become too obvious,” such as with Primary. Or there’s the general “Oh, it’s the same genre” reasoning, which is logical and self-explanatory, a perfect way to avoid blame.
But there is really no excuse for not giving credit where credit is due. Although an agency putting their foot in their mouth provides fodder for amusement, the fact of the matter is artists and agencies should stop treating the public and original creators like they are ignorant and stupid. Admitting guilt and putting checks in place to cover your tail would go a long way — creating your own content would be a great start. Oh, and remember that seniority doesn’t give anyone the right to be a jerk.