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NewJeans Want YouTube to Identify an Online Hater So They Can Sue Them in South Korea

NewJeans are asking a federal court to make Google reveal the identity of a user who’s allegedly been posting “false and defamatory videos” about the K-pop stars on YouTube. 

The ex parte application was filed at the end of March after NewJeans made a criminal complaint in South Korea, but authorities were unable to move forward with the case because they could not identify the anonymous user. NewJeans’ lawyer tried an informal request to get the information from Google, but that was unsuccessful, leading to the court filing. 

According to court docs obtained by Rolling Stone, the YouTuber posts under the handle @Middle7 and has made “as many as 33 defamatory videos” about the members of NewJeans. The @Middle7 account has approximately 12,700 subscribers, according to the application, and as of this March their videos had been viewed more than 13.8 million times. 

While anonymous online haters doing what they always do — hating — is nothing novel, the defamation laws in South Korea are flexible enough for NewJeans to pursue a suit like this. The ex parte application claims @Middle7 has “engaged in name-calling or other mocking behavior” against NewJeans, “all of which constitute defamation and/or crime of insult under the laws of the Republic of Korea.” 

NewJeans’ lawyer in the U.S. did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment, nor did a rep for Google. NewJeans’ label/management company Ador told The New York Times, “We regularly take legal action for violations of artists’ rights.”

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To that point, this kind of case is not necessarily new for NewJeans or Ador. Even a cursory scroll through the official Ador Twitter account reveals several statements from the past couple of years regarding similar legal proceedings and privacy protections for members. 

Unsurprisingly, it’s somewhat easier for K-pop groups and their teams to clamp down on online vitriol — and take legal action — if users are using platforms in South Korea. As a result, trolls have flocked to international platforms, like YouTube, in the hopes it might offer more protection. But that’s not always the case, as The Times notes: Last year, a lawyer for the K-pop group IVE went through the U.S. courts to obtain the name of a YouTuber accused of making false statements about one of the band’s members; that subsequently led to a successful civil suit in South Korea. 

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