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Bulgaria Amends Copyright Law to Implement EU Directive on Collective Management

Apr 2 2018 - 12:53

Under the threat of EU sanctions, the Bulgarian Parliament recently adopted amendments to the law on Copyright and Related Rights in order to belatedly implement Directive 2014/26/EU on collective rights management and multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online uses in the internal market. The amended law will enter into force three days after its publication in the State Gazette, which is expected soon.

Bulgaria failed to implement the Directive by April 10, 2016, as it was required for all EU member states. In May 2016, the European Commission initiated a procedure against Bulgaria for a breach of obligations, and on December 7, 2017 asked the Court of Justice of the European Union to impose monetary sanctions on Bulgaria in the amount of EUR 19,121 (USD 23,731) per day. The Bulgarian Parliament then rushed the amendments and adopted them on March 15, 2018.

The Directive 2014/26/EU aims to increase transparency in the work of copyright collectives by closely regulating their activities. It introduces requirements for multi-territorial licensing of rights in musical works for online use and creates an entirely new category of collective management entities, called “independent management entities”. While collective management organizations have so far only been not-for-profit organizations controlled by the management bodies of their members (the right holders) and the Ministry of Culture, the new independent collectives are for-profit commercial entities that are not owned or controlled by right holders and that will be subject to authorization by the Ministry of Culture. As a result, aside from the already existing collectives, each EU member state is obliged to provide the possibility that independent entities carry out copyright collective management.

The amended copyright law also clarifies the powers and competences of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture in copyright collective management. Namely, besides authorizing independent management entities to carry out collective management of copyright, the Ministry will also maintain a register of collective management entities and supervise the activity of all registered entities, both the traditional non-profit and the new independent ones.

The changes were met with the disapproval of some of the existing collective management bodies and many artists. This was primarily because of the possibility for independent commercial companies to act as collective management entities, and because of the amendments’ lack of clarity when it comes to the manner of determining remuneration amounts payable to right holders.

By: Maxim Hristov and Dimitar Batakliev

For more information, please contact Maxim Hristov at our Bulgaria office.

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