Operators of popular K-pop “reaction” video channels on YouTube are protesting against CJ E&M, a leading Korean entertainment company, and YouTube for trying to kill their way of living and risking the Korean wave itself.
But they have little on their side.
First, CJ is doing what it has to do ― registering its copyright of music and shows it makes, while YouTube is deleting the videos through its anti-piracy algorithms.
The problem is related to the very marketing point of the reaction videos. They have reactors do a variety of acts while watching shows and performances they have no ownership of. And those performance videos inside their reaction videos are legally seen as pirated.
But what they take issue with is that if CJ had told them the videos violated piracy protocols, they would not have used CJ gigs.
“I feel like this system is screwed up,” said David Kim, co-founder of reaction channel DKDKTV, which was set up in September 2016.
Kim pointed to YouTube’s double standard, saying his calls for piracy action on his videos were long ignored but YouTube acted on CJ’s request with amazing speed.
He deleted over 10 videos for the fear of removal but still has a cache of 250. He doesn’t rule out that those remaining in his archive also may be wiped.
He is conscious of YouTube’s rule ― three deletions or strikes and your channel will be shut down. The shutdown means, to reaction video operators like Kim, an end of their businesses and damage to their livelihoods.
He thinks what is happening to his business could spread to other segments in the YouTube world.
The reaction videos are a popular genre, with some channels attracting over 100,000 subscribers.
But the law is not with them. “It may not be considered as an original work that needs protecting,” said Shin Chang-hwan, an official with the Korea Copyright Commission.
The situation is so uncertain that there is a conspiracy theory that some J-pop backers are putting pressure on the CJ subsidiary to weaken the K-pop popularity but CJ flatly denied it.
“We are just doing the usual job,” the media conglomerate told The Korea Times, adding there was no sudden surge in the number of violations.