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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Le Sserafim, IU and the copyright witch-hunt

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A concept photo for girl group Le Sserafim's newest album ″Unforgiven″ [SOURCE MUSIC]
A concept photo for girl group Le Sserafim’s newest album ″Unforgiven″ [SOURCE MUSIC]

The ever-haunting specter of plagiarism swept music markets around the world in May.

On the first day of the month, girl group Le Sserafim was asked whether it had copied “a certain singer” during the showcase for its newest EP “Unforgiven” in what should have been a joyous day with encouraging questions from the press.

A week later on May 8, singer-and-actor IU was reported to the police for allegedly plagiarizing six of her songs from various artists, 10 years after the first accusation was made against her. Those accusations against her were subsequently cleared.

On the other side of the globe on May 4, British singer Ed Sheeran was cleared of charges of copying Marvin Gaye with his 2014 hit “Thinking Out Loud,” six years after the tedious legal battle first began.

The issue of plagiarism has been lurking in the music industry for as long as there has been an industry, but the growing awareness of copyright and easier online access to songs have led to a growing number of accusations that a new song isn’t actually “new.”

The latest cases involving Le Sserafim and IU have been around for months, if not years, but have freshly heated up the domestic music market like never before.

Le Sserafim’s case was brought to light on May 1 when a reporter pointed out that the group’s new song “Unforgiven” was being accused of sounding strikingly similar to Spanish artist Rosalia’s “Chicken Teriyaki” (2022), a Latin pop dance track.


BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]