When you think of Bulgaria, copyright revolution may not be the first thing which comes to your mind. You would probably come up with the development in the tourism industry and some beautiful sandy beaches. In case you did not yet hear the expression ‘to trinkhaus someone’ we will make you familiar with the backdrop of it. Let’s shed some light on how photographers are fighting for their rights in Bulgaria.
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.
The actual situation in Bulgaria
Copyright infringement is not a very recent phenomenon in Bulgaria. Photos have been getting stolen online for a couple of years already but there were not many actions taken to protect photographers’ rights and get back the money they deserve. Things shifted into the proper direction once Nico Trinkhaus, the founder of PhotoClaim, showed up in Sofia to fight for his rights in court.
Cases we won
Processing cases in court is usually a lengthy process but justice is worth its time. Below you can find some of the successful verdicts with short summaries, stating the amount of money we managed to regain in cooperation with the Bulgarian lawyer Dimo Gospodinow, from GG LAW, with whom we cooperate on a regular basis. The majority of the cases were set up against travel agencies that used stolen images online.
4.01.2018 , Verdict + a short summary
6126 euros – this is how much we managed to regain.
30.03.2018, Verdict + a short summary
The court granted our claim to the fullest. We received around 1400 euro compensation and 1300 euro costs.
9.07.2018, Verdict + a short summary
We won 2583 euro as the total compensation.
9.07.2018, Verdict + a short summary
1132 euros in total were to be reimbursed after the final verdict.
18.07.2018, Verdict + a short summary
Initially, we invited the opponent to pay voluntarily but they refused. We received the decision of the Court of Appeal in our favour. All of our claims were granted. We won 2 952 euro damages, 1717 euro costs, 500 euro + interests.
What does it mean ‘to trinkhaus someone’?
During one of his visits in Bulgaria in 2018, Nico was interviewed by some local media in which he described his cases, talked more about the current status of image theft in Europe and how we fight with image theft at PhotoClaim. The interview on Bloomberang TV was a popular piece of news and an explicit call to action for photographers to fight for their rights.
Nico’s cases brought more attention towards the possibilities of regaining money by photographers. Local community of photographers finally realized that with the help of lawyers, there is a real chance to get back the money they would otherwise never see. Going to the court stopped being perceived as something extremely stressful, costly and rarely successful.
Nico’s name started being associated with photographers’ struggle to claim their fair share of profits from online business, says Dimo Gospodinov from GGlaw, who handled and won all of the cases listed above. It may not appear in official dictionaries yet but the term ‘to trinkhaus someone’ (meaning: to catch the image thief red-handed) is already on the lips of many Bulgarian photographers.
Photographers started to band together and form associations (e.g. Photo World) to be able to claim their rights with greater power. They aim is to impose strict minimum and average sums for unlawful usage of pictures (just like MFM tables do it for German-based photographers) to support the professional community in their claims before the case lands in the court, Dimo Gospodinov continues.
Observing such movements is very uplifting and proves that our efforts to grow the awareness of copyrights protection and diminish the scale of image theft bear fruit. 2020 is a good year to take fate in your own hands. You don’t yet work with us? Apply and get back the money that you deserve. If you are already a member of our community, why do not spread the news among your photographer friends? United we stand!