Bulgaria – the Land Full of Sun and Copyright Infringement

Holiday destination. A place which most people usually associate with sandy beaches and the Black Sea. Why link it with copyright infringements? Find the answer in the next couple of paragraphs.

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For landscape photographers, Bulgaria used to be a spot where most would usually aim to go in search of breath-taking locations to take pictures. Recently, another—less pleasant—reason appeared. Some photographers would now book flight tickets, but, right upon the arrival, instead of going to the beach they would head straight to… court.

Stick to EU Copyright Law

As a member of the European Union, Bulgaria remains under the European jurisdiction also when it comes to copyright law. The main copyright act was formulated in line with all the European Directives and International Treaties concerning copyright protection. Article 94. of the Copyright Law regulates the main claim which covers the reimbursement for damages. Despite the civil protection, Bulgarian legislation also covers a penalty and administrative protection. According to the Bulgarian penalty code, anyone who reproduced, distributed or infringed foreign copyright in some other way, with no consent of the holder of the right, holds criminal responsibility. The cases under the administrative protection are held by the Ministry of Culture which has the right to impose administrative fines on violators. According to the Bulgarian law, the applicable law in such cases is the national law of the country of residence of the author of the infringed work.

‘Found on Google – Free of Charge’

Copyright Infringement cases were among the most pressing ones in Bulgaria for a couple of years already but, just recently, this subject gained even more attention. It seems that most of the population still has a vague idea of what is legal and what is not when it comes to the usage of photographs and other works protected by copyright. ‘It is still a common practice among both private and business individuals to use copyrighted items, especially software and fonts, without paying for the license. Frankly, when it comes to pictures, people think that whatever is ‘found on Google’ is free of charge’, says Dimo Gospodinov, Bulgarian lawyer.

Nico Trinkhaus

Copyright Infringement in Bulgaria – 5 Times Higher Than Average

Common picture copyright violations resulted in Bulgarian photographers being less and less optimistic about getting back the money they are entitled to. Nowadays, they actually seldom claim their rights in the court. Their silent consent does not really help to raise the common awareness. Copyright infringement was never widely covered in the media until the interview with Nico Trinkhaus—an experienced photographer and PhotoClaim’s founder—was emitted.

Nico decided to share his knowledge and experience in photography copyright law violations on air. The interview which was broadcasted on one of the local TV channels added fuel to the fire. In the next couple of days, most newspaper headlines covered the topic of the illegal usage of photographs. Nico brought some shocking statistics with him, stating that copyright infringements in Bulgaria are five times higher than the average number in most European countries which qualifies as quite high.

Nico wanted to raise the awareness of Bulgaria also due to some personal reasons. The increasing image theft seems to affect photographers not only in Bulgaria but all around the world – Nico is one of them. His landscape pictures were used by a couple of different travel agencies to offer services or published on their blogs without the photographer’s approval. The cases included lots of electronic evidence which still appears to pose a challenge for the Bulgarian courts. The opponents were also not easy to negotiate with.

The Most Effective Way to Get Money Back

At PhotoClaim, when it comes to approaching opponents, we tend to choose the most arbitral way. We start with the Cease and Desist Order which obliges the infringer to remove the photograph and pay the photographer the licensing fee as well as the legal cost. The attorney can often come to an agreement with the infringing company. That makes sense for both sides because whenever the case is brought to court and the thieves lose, they must cover much higher costs.

Years of experience taught us that involving lawyers right at the very beginning of the legal process brings better results. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to resolve the case out of court. Some of Nico’s Bulgarian opponents turned out to be very stubborn and arrogant, reluctant to delete stolen pictures. Some denied the commercial use of images – the case is still in the Court of Appeal.

Surely, the fight against image theft is not a piece of cake. Still, it is an important matter well worth the effort. At PhotoClaim, we strive not only to get the money back but also to create the community with a high awareness of the copyright law. Winning a case brings a lot of satisfaction while lost ones always teach a lesson. Have you ever thought that your photos might have been stolen as well? Go straight to our registration page and let us find the cases for you. Join our fight! It does not cost a dime but may bring you thousands.

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