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.”
Copyright infringement can be fatal for artists and producers.
The definition is quite straightforward — someone bases their work on someone else’s but does not acknowledge the source —, but the legality surrounding the issue is an entirely different story that can be battled out in courts for years.
Once accusations have been made, not only is it difficult to prove that the work isn't based on someone else's, it can tarnish the song even if no infringement is proven.
But in a world where over 5,000 songs are released every day in Korea alone and some 100,000 around the globe, the idea of “the one and only” song may be becoming an ideal too strict for any songwriter to live up to.