Protection of Copyright on the Internet according to the Bulgarian law*


Internet is an association of computer networks, global system which has no owner, there is no established right organizational structure, intervening as the owner of the computer network.  For the user, the representative of the internet is the supplier, and when the user executes transactions through internet, his contractor's organization or person providing the service. The main legislation regulating the protection of copyrights in Bulgaria is the Law on copyright and related rights. At the moment the legal regulation does not cover all possible copyright infringement on the internet. Necessary measures for the protection of copyright and related rights on internet can be effective in the presence of a single global policy in this respect, because the internet is available to users worldwide.

In the internet, copyright arises with the creation of the work. According to Bulgarian law copyright does not require registration as for example it is in the USA, where after entering rights  in a register its presence is attested by a mark on the work. In Bulgaria, the distinctive sign is only an option and it is not obligatory requirement.  In practice, in most of the cases a distinctive sign is placed on the initiative of the author to demonstrate to any potential infringements the authorship and the period of the authorship.  According to the Bulgarian law Copyright protects the author and seventy years after his death. For the computer programs and databases that were created within the employment the copyright holder is the employer, unless otherwise is agreed between the parties.

The copyright holder is the author - an individual. Carrier of the copyright may be  also a corporate body under certain conditions expressly set out in the law. The main rule is that the author of the work is considered the person whose name or other identifying mark is in the usual manner on the original work. Any work created in the course of employment belongs to the author and the employer has the right to use it for his own purposes without permission and without payment of remuneration.

Internet is a place where the copyrights are most frequently violated. On the other hand, there is not a global regulation which prevents the authors in the protection of their copyrights on the Internet. Violations of copyright and neighboring rights may take various forms-for example, offering access to work over the Internet, processing and translation of the work without permission, theft of domain names, the violation of the right of reproduction, distribution records on floppy disks without permission of the rights holders and others, etc. For the protection of copyright on the Internet is extremely important to be identified the offender, which appears in many cases quite difficult, because of the specifics of the internet. If a cable TV transmitted a foreign program, which has music, movies and more objects of protection, the mail rule is that the cable TV would be an infringer. When files containing music and movies uploaded to the Internet without permission of those people who have a copyright or related rights over them, the responsibility is for those people who are picking the works- subject to protection. These are the suppliers, respectively owners and managers of servers. Very often the people  "share" certain content from their computer, containing objects of copyright, with other network users through a torrent technology. In these cases, liability should wear those persons who administer the torrent sites, and those end-users who upload objects on the Internet. There is no responsibility for persons downloading works for their personal use. There is a Copyright infringement on the Internet when people are copying the content of any website (copy text, graphics, design, photos, etc..). In practice, in determining whether copying is a violation of the texts, the assessment is carried out in each particular case. For example, if the site presents literary texts or works with new and innovative ideas, the texts should be a subject of protection. In the websites of newspapers or other publications and electronic media, works of journalism are protected literary works, including works of scientific and technical literature, journalism and computer programs as well as the graphic design of print edition. Regarding the news published in such sites which simply reflect current events, facts, information and data in summary, it is assumed that they are not subject to copyright protection. Trade agreement to combat counterfeiting (ACTA) is an attempt to create uniform standards in combating infringements of copyright. However, internet users worldwide are against international agreement ACTA.

Copyrights in Bulgaria is protected by several special claims regulated in art. 94-95 by the Bulgarian Law on copyright. Art. 94 of the Copyright Law regulates the main claim, namely the claim for repairing the damages. The aim of the claim is to repair the made damages from violation of the copyrights.

Except the civil protection the Bulgarian legislation predicts also penalty protection and administrative protection.

According to Bulgarian penalty code persons who recorded, reproduced, distributed, broadcasted or transmitted or otherwise used foreign copyright without the necessary consent of the holder of that right, should bear criminal responsibility.

The administrative protection is realized by the Ministry of culture who has the possibility to impose administrative fines to violators.  According to Bulgarian law the applicable law in such cases is the law of nationality of the author or his permanent address.

* This article was created by Valova&Angelova law firm.