Copyright protection no big deal for Gangnam Style’s PSY

A formerly-unknown South Korean singer hit the jackpot this year with a catchy tune that grabbed California’s attention and the world’s – “Gangnam Style”. The song and video have had more views than any other video in YouTube history.

A 34-year-old South Korean musician called PSY sings and horse dances in the “Gangnam Style” video. Park Jae-sang, the singer’s real name, is reaping a fortune from the Internet, despite the existence of countless parody videos that borrow PSY’s song. The K-Pop singer appears unruffled about copyright infringement and may be attracting viewers from the song’s overlapping exposure.

The Associated Press estimates PSY, whose song and video have been seen hundreds of millions of times, will make more than $8 million in 2012. That figure represents only the money PSY is earning from music downloads on iTunes and advertisements on YouTube.

The record-breaking viewer interest has companies like Samsung Electronics scrambling to use PSY to promote their products. A securities firm believes PSY could pocket more than $4 million before year’s end through television commercials alone.

The singer’s lack of concern for copyright protection and obvious wealth from freely sharing his song and video might encourage other entertainers to do the same. It remains to be seen whether PSY will someday regret failing to establish early copyright guidelines for the use of his pop tune.

It is said that getting a copyright is easier and less expensive than protecting one. Musicians and other entertainers are especially vulnerable to the theft of their work, especially through illegal music and video downloading sites on the Internet. The loss of legitimate sales for music and videos cuts deeply into artists’ pockets.

So far, the K-Pop singer has profited handsomely, possibly with the help of copyright infringers. It would be difficult to gauge how much revenue the “Gangnam Style” singer has lost by not building a legal defense around his music.

Source:, “By Ignoring Copyright Infringement, Psy Makes $8.1 Million,” Dec. 10, 2012