Face Reader producers file injunction against KBS for King’s Face
It’s possible we won’t be seeing The King’s Face on KBS this fall, as originally planned. The drama adaptation of the 2013 film The Face Reader was scheduled to air in November and was courting Seo In-gook to headline. But on August 25, The Face Reader’s production company, Jupiter Film, filed for an injunction claiming that KBS had infringed on their copyright, asking that the network not be allowed to air their unauthorized remake.
According to Jupiter Film, they own the rights to the original script for The Face Reader with a “one source multi use” clause, for the express purpose of producing a film, a book series, and a drama based on the story (it’s a fusion sageuk about a face-reading fortuneteller who gets caught up in a political battle for the throne). They prepared the book series launch to coincide with the film’s release, and the film sold 9 million tickets in 2013, and two books in the series (backstories and such for the characters in the film) have been released thus far.
In 2012, Jupiter approached KBS Media about a 24-episode drama adaptation of The Face Reader and handed over scripts and outlines, and mentioned writer Lee Hyang-hee (War of Money) as a good candidate for penning the remake. The deal ultimately fell through, and the drama was shelved. But it turns out that The King’s Face is not the result of a new deal struck between the two production houses — KBS Media has gone ahead with the idea without Jupiter Film, with the writer they suggested.
Unsurprisingly, Jupiter has filed an injunction against KBS (the broadcaster) and KBS Media (the production house) for infringement of copyright and unfair competition. KBS released a statement that they’re currently in talks to reach an agreement. Even if they eventually pay enough money to get the rights after the fact, it’s a pretty boneheaded situation to be in. Did they really think that by changing the time period to Gwanghae’s reign instead of Suyang’s, no one would notice? It would actually be less befuddling if they had just come up with the thinly-veiled plagiarized version on their own; as it stands, it’s hard to argue your case when you passed on a deal only to show up with the same idea later.
Beyond the matter of plagiarism or copyright, in asking for the broadcast of The King’s Face to be prevented, the producers are arguing on behalf of their original drama adaptation. According to Jupiter Film, “There is an unwritten rule that’s long been in practice — you can’t air dramas that feature the same people and the same subject matter (this is especially true of sageuk) for a reasonable period of time.” This means that even if they were to make their drama version as planned, if KBS is allowed to air theirs, it delays Jupiter’s version by default.
KBS is currently in negotiations to resolve the issue. The King’s Face is planned to follow Iron Man on Wednesdays and Thursdays in November… for now.