IMITATING STRUGGLE AGAINST PIRATE SOFTWARE IS OVER
Imitating reforms of whatever character is like walking on a rope for a long time - no matter how deft the equilibrist is, he will certainly fall down sooner or later. After Bulgarian authorities have been imitating for years on end struggle against pirate production of CDs, the USA and later on Europe directed angry warnings regarding the gross thefts of intellectual property.In a probable attempt to show good-will, on April 21, 2005, the National Assembly hastily slubbered over the first reading of the so-called bill on administrative regulation of manufacture and trade in optic discs, matrixes and other carriers, containing objects of copyrights and related rights. But on May 20 Parliament dissolved itself and things remained at that point, in order to be resumed on July 15 when the new 40th National Assembly in its turn voted on first reading the same draft bill with the same text and title. A day before that the Interim Commission on European Issues had unanimously approved it at its first session.This was something likedouble insuranceCertainly, it is not a mistake, but a somewhat belated demonstration of resolution to deal with the problem. Political consensus is also there - this time the new old draft bill was moved in by seven deputies, representatives of all parliamentary political forces. September is the term for its final approval.The new law is a mandatory part of the synchronization of Bulgarian legislation with the European one. It is related to the requirements of another act as well - for limiting administrative regulation and administrative control of economic activities, projecting that the licensing and registration regimes should be settled not my ministerial decrees, but by laws. The subject of the act is within the scope of the pre-accession negotiation chapter Corporate Law, closed in advance on June 11, 2001. But we'll have to open it again because 75-80% of the 2004 output of CDs in Bulgaria were pirated, while their average percentage worldwide is 40 per cent. This is something that made our country an object of special monitoring.On the background of huge profitsfrom illegally produced software, the size of sanctions, projected in the bill's administrative and punitive provisions, seems petty. The struggling against pirate CDs will be effected by means of fines which are pocket money for some of the branch insiders. The highest sanction - between BGN30,000-50,000 is stipulated for the production of optic discs and matrixes without a licence for their manufacture. Violations like not entering or forging the code for identification of the source (the so-called SID-code) are fined by BGN10,000-25,000, and deals in CDs without having the necessary certificate - by BGN10,000-15,000 . Control and administrative measures of compulsion will be effected by two ministries - the Economy Ministry and the Ministry of Culture, and half of the money from fines will go to the national Culture Fund.As until now, the licence for the manufacture of optic discs or matrixes will be issued by the economy minister or his authorized deputy. It should containindividual data about the personswho represent the licensed producer as per the court registration, the identification code under the BULSTAT register, the SID-code, an accurate description of the licensed manufacture and of the production capacities - brand, model and factory number. Different licences will be issued for producing a certain kind of optical discs or matrixes. They will be revoked in cases of presenting incorrect data, using production capacities differing from those specified in the licence, when the SID-code is missing or in cases of overproduction. A special interdepartmental commission, appointed by the economy minister, will be making proposals for issuing, refusing, or revoking licences. It will include two representatives of each of the Economy Ministry, the Ministry of Culture, and the Interior Ministry, and one representative from the Ministry of Justice and the Customs Agency. The commission should extend its stance within two months upon filing the documents. The new law projects the introduction of a registration regime for entrepreneurswho produce on the country's territory optic discs or matrixes with recordings - carriers of copyrights. The certificates for registration will be issued by the Minister of Culture. He or his authorized deputy will be issuing certificates for making deals for the manufacture of matrixes and optic discs with recordings, as well as deals for acquiring rights for playback and trade in sound recordings or recordings of audio and visual works. The culture minister will be issuing certificates for importing or exporting matrixes and optic discs with recordings which are objects of copyrights.It should be underlined that the licences issued under this act, the certificates for registration and for effecting deals, may not be used as grounds for acquiring rights under the Copyrights Act. Neither do they relieve of responsibility the persons who have acquired them. In the opinion of experts, the countries with a low percentage of pirate software have a high growth of IT development. As software is the easiest way for transferring technologies, the lack of protection of intellectual property hampers that transfer. Therefore, the ultimate goal of all exercises in the sphere of copyrights is not to get the benignancy of Europe or America, but to achieve real and sure protection of both legal producers of optic discs and of their customers.