From BTS to NewJeans: HYBE's Ongoing Battle Against Cyberbullying and Stalking
HYBE has once again taken a strong legal stance against habitual malicious comments and other acts that infringe upon the rights of their artists.
On December 29, six labels under HYBE announced through the Weverse and social media channels of each of their artists the cases of rights infringement and the legal response situations for each artist.
The notice specified acts of rights infringement such as malicious posts, threats to artists' safety and privacy invasion, impersonation of artists, leakage of personal information, and harmful comments on live communication channels.
The notice included examples of illegal acts related to these issues, the progress of lawsuits for individual artists, and some results of punishment.
Artists from more than ten teams including Baekho, Hwang Min-hyun, BTS, Seventeen, fromis_9, Tomorrow X Together, ENHYPEN, LE SSERAFIM, NewJeans, and AndTeam published the notice.
A HYBE official stated, "Artists are subject to criticism and scrutiny as public figures, but before that, they are individuals and entities deserving respect and protection. We have taken legal measures to eradicate malicious and repetitive human rights violations that cause mental shock to the artists."
HYBE is conducting regular legal responses, including this round of lawsuits and complaints.
For the most frequent cases of malicious posts, HYBE collects cases using fans' reports and its monitoring system, and its monitoring system encompasses all channels, including SNS and online communities, capturing even posts written anonymously and then deleted. A HYBE official said, "Our label's dedicated team is protecting artists' rights by meticulously finding content related to defamation, insult, sexual harassment, spreading false facts, and malicious slander."
In fact, Big Hit Music, in the second half of this year, has seen an increase in the number of malicious post creators sued for Tomorrow X Together compared to the first half. This is the result of intensified self-monitoring due to an increase in malicious posts unrelated to the artists' facts. Source Music has also sued individuals for spreading rumors and 'jirashi' (groundless gossip) in group chat rooms.
Many of the malicious commenters have been criminally punished. Pledis Entertainment sued an individual for repeatedly posting highly offensive malicious posts about fromis_9. Considering the severity of the case, the court sentenced the individual to the maximum fine of 3 million won.
Some suspects who insulted LE SSERAFIM managed by Source Music and Ador have been punished after lengthy police investigations and recognized for their offenses. Source Music and Ador are especially taking a more strict approach to suspects who made sexually shameful or harassing comments, particularly towards the minor members of LE SSERAFIM and NewJeans.
HYBE also warned that they would seek legal responsibility to the end, including petitioning for severe punishment from the court for the so-called 'sasaengs' who seriously invade artists' privacy.
Big Hit Music has filed complaints under the 'Act on the Punishment of Stalking Crimes' against sasaengs who sent mail and parcels to BTS members' homes, causing harm even to their families. The prosecution has resulted in criminal punishment. Police are currently investigating another sasaeng whose offenses, including trespassing, have been revealed.
Additionally, Big Hit Music has criminally sued individuals for impersonating artists and leaking unreleased music, and they are currently awaiting the court's sentencing. Legal responses for BTS, who are all currently serving in the military, will continue without interruption during their period of military service.
HYBE Labels Japan is also monitoring acts that infringe on the rights of its artists, such as AndTeam, and is taking down malicious posts.
A HYBE official stated, "It's a fact that a healthy fandom culture has played a significant role in K-pop receiving global attention. For the future expansion of K-pop into a sophisticated industry ecosystem, these problematic malicious comments and blind derogatory actions must disappear."
Meanwhile, since 2018, HYBE has been periodically announcing the progress of lawsuits and punishment details related to acts that infringe upon the rights of each artist.
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