The way things are panning out, the Sony movie The Interview is on course to become one of the most controversial movies of all time.
The comedy, which depicts the violent death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, made headlines worldwide when the so-called Guardians of Peace hacking group threatened Sony if it was released. Facing what amounted to a “terrorist” threat, theaters all around the U.S. backed away from showing The Interview in the week leading up to Christmas.
After pulling the movie completely, Sony had a change of heart and on Christmas Eve released the music online via YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live. Predictably the movie was quickly gobbled up by pirates, with the latest figures suggesting that in just two days the movie has been downloaded 1.5 million times.
But while Sony deals with rampant piracy issues at one end, it’s now facing copyright infringement allegations of its own. According to new claims, Sony used copyrighted music in The Interview without permission and without compensating an artist.
Yoon Mi-rae (real name Natasha Shanta Reid) is a US-born hip hop and R&B singer who currently releases music on the Feel Ghood Music label. In January 2013 as part of MFBTY (My Fans Better Than Yours), the 33-year-old hit the number 1 spot in the Korean Music Charts and in September reached the same heights on Billboard’s Kpop Hot 100 list with her song ‘Touch Love’.
But while these recognitions were achieved by fans buying her music, she’s now in the spotlight for not getting paid for her work. It appears that Yoon Mi-rae was in negotiations with Sony to have her track ‘Pay Day’ appear in The Interview. Even though no agreement was reached, Sony used the music anyway.
“There were initial discussions for using ‘Pay Day‘ in the movie, but at some point, the discussions ceased and we assumed that it would not follow through,” Feel Ghood Music says.
“However, after the movie was released, we learned that the track had been used without permission, legal procedure, or contracts.”
Sony, who are already facing a world of pain following the hacking and near destruction of their IT systems in recent weeks, will now face a copyright infringement lawsuit over the unauthorized use of the ironically named ‘Pay Day’.
“We will be taking legal action against Sony Pictures as well as DFSB, the agency that had been carrying out the discussion regarding the use of the track,” the label says.
It seems unlikely that this lawsuit will result in a messy legal battle. The huge publicity the movie has enjoyed in the past few weeks will virtually guarantee decent sales for Sony, even without lucrative box office revenues. Yoon Mi-rae should not only be able to secure a piece of that but also raise her profile in a way that would not have been possible had Sony paid her in the first instance.