Ownership and transfer

Eligible owners

Who is the owner of a copyrighted work?

The author, or the creator of the work, holds both the economic and moral rights in the work. Since copyright may be assigned, the assignee can become the owner of the work, except for the moral rights which are inalienable, personal rights of the original author.

Employee and contractor work

May an employer own a copyrighted work made by an employee?

Yes. A work created by an employee during the course of performing the employee’s duties will be deemed a work-made-for-hire, and the rights in such work are owned by the employer unless otherwise stipulated in a contract or employment policy (article 9).

May a hiring party own a copyrighted work made by an independent contractor?

Yes. However, work-made-for-hire in a non-employment context is more difficult to be recognised than in an employment context. It is therefore highly recommended to execute an agreement that expressly provides for the assignment of the copyright in the work created by the outside consultant to the party commissioning the work.

Joint and collective ownership

May a copyrighted work be co-owned?

Yes. A copyrighted work may be co-owned, and the co-owner may be an individual or a legal entity.

Transfer of rights

May rights be transferred?

Yes. The author’s economic right can be assigned in whole or in part. Even where an author’s economic right is assigned in whole, the right of the production and use of derivative works is not presumed to be included in the transfer unless otherwise expressly agreed. Moral rights are unassignable but can be waived (ie, the author may agree not to exercise the moral rights in the work).


May rights be licensed?

Yes. The author’s economic rights can be licensed in whole or in part. The licensee will be entitled to exploit the work in the manner and within the scope provided by the licence. The licence cannot be transferred to a third party without the consent of the holder of author’s economic rights. The scope of a copyright licence is restricted to those explicitly written in the licence agreement and is construed very narrowly. Therefore, a copyright licence must include a clear scope for the licence.

Are there compulsory licences? What are they?

Where the party wishing to use a copyrighted work is unable to identify the rights holder, such person may exploit the work after obtaining the approval from the MCST (article 50). In such case, the compensation set by the MCST must be deposited with the MCST and the intent to use and the date of use need to be specified.

Are licences administered by performing rights societies? How?

Yes. The Korean Music Copyright Association and the Korean Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers collect the royalties from music copyright, whereas the Recording Industry Association of Korea and the Federation of Korean Music Performers administer the rights of the record labels and music performers, in each case, pursuant to the collection guidelines approved by the MCST.


Is there any provision for the termination of transfers of rights?



Can documents evidencing transfers and other transactions be recorded with a government agency?

Yes. Documents evidencing transfers and other transactions can be recorded with the KCC and such application for recordation must be filed with the application form, identification documents, list of the copyrighted works, copy of the contract, consent or affidavit from the assignor if the applicant is the assignee, etc.