The Collective Rights Management Directive (“the Directive”) sets standards for bodies engaged in collective licensing of copyright works across the European Union. In the middle of March Bulgarian Parliament belatedly adopted a law, transposing the Directive into the national law. The term to adopt measures by the Member States was 10 April 2016.
The new rules aim to ensure that right holders have stronger protection in the management of their rights and envisage a better functioning of collective management organisations (“CMOs”) following unified standards. Until the amendments of 15 March 2018, the Bulgarian legislation provided for a monopolistic approach, where only not-for profit CMOs, registered in a special register under the supervision of the Minister of culture, were permitted to exercise one type of copyright or related right. There were three not-for-profit associations Musicauthor, Profon and Filmauthor, registered in the Ministry of Culture in each field of business. The new legal framework made it possible for business entities, called “independent management entities” (“IME”) to perform the above activities, after registration in a special register under the supervision of the Minister of culture. The new co-existence regime liberalised the market and thus encourages competition.
The Directive requires that each member state nominates a national competent authority, which is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Directive’s provisions in that member state. The amended law gave this function to the Minister of culture. The controlling function at a local level is given to the mayors of the municipalities. The new rules place minimum standards of governance, financial management and transparency of CMOs and IME.
The new rules provide for a mandatory obligation for the CMOs to distribute the amounts due to its rightsholders on an annual basis meeting the term of 30 September each year.
The amendments introduce a new regime of multi-territorial licensing of online rights in musical works. Capacity to process multi-territorial licensing have CMOs that comply with certain statutory requirements, which aim to ensure accurate and timely collecting rights revenue and distribution of the royalty payments to the rightsholders.
Financial penalties for infringements of copyrights and neighbouring rights or for other violations of the statutory rules rage from approx. EUR 1,000 to EUR 10,000.
The new legal framework is very detailed and focused on achieving transparency in the activities of the CMOs and IMEs. Time will tell whether the new legislation will meet the challenges of the digital environment and will really encourage competition in the field of copyrights and related rights.