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Sony's Bullying Extends to a Copyright Battle With K-Pop Star

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

We've talked a lot about the Sony hack. And unless you've been living under a rock for the past month, you know that Sony (along with a number of theaters) decided to cancel the release of "The Interview" (the film that may have inspired the hack, which some have speculated was carried out by the North Korean government). Sony then decided to release the film on Christmas Day and online simultaneously.

In all of the hubbub over hacking, however, they forgot one small thing: to clear music samples for the film. According to Ars Technica, the studio is now negotating with Yoon Mi-rae over "Pay Day," a song that is used for approximately three minutes in "The Interview." The K-Pop star and the studio were negotiating before the film was released, but no deal was reached. And instead of waiting for a deal, Sony pushed forward, and released the film anyway.

But, despite the allegedly unauthorized use of the song, will the maneuver pay off for both parties?

Aborted Negotiations

"There were initial discussions for using 'Pay Day' in the movie, but at some point, the discussions ceased and we assumed that it would not follow through," Mi-rae's label Feel Ghood Music told

"However, after the movie was released, we learned that the track had been used without permission, legal procedure, or contracts."

Feel Ghood also indicated that it would pursue legal action against the studio.

Efficient Infringment

We mentioned bullying at the start -- Sony bullied Twitter to get its way regarding hacked emails. One might see a similar attitude here: A studio, denied rights to a song for a price they were willing to pay, decided to use it anyway.

However, it may have a happy ending. Many, including Torrent Freak, do not expect this to be a protracted legal battle -- the Sony hack led to immense publicity for the film, which has in turn done surprisingly well in theaters and online, which has given Mi-rae exposure that she woudn't have otherwise gotten. In other words, it is in the best interests of both parties to come to a deal.

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