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Hundreds of Bulgarian filmmakers call on cable operators to pay royalties


- Local directors and producers are not happy about the fact that cable operators haven’t paid broadcasting rights for Bulgarian films for years

Hundreds of Bulgarian filmmakers call on cable operators to pay royalties
The chairman of Filmautor, director Victor Bojinov

Hundreds of Bulgarian directors and producers have signed an open letter in order to convince the local Ministry of Culture to take action in a situation that has been going on for years: although Bulgarian films are frequently broadcast by local cable operators and television channels, the filmmakers do not receive any remuneration for their work. These royalties are in fact regulated in the country’s copyright law, but the law is not enforced.

In the wake of the Bulgarian film professionals’ outrage, Filmautor, the Bulgarian society for the collective management of authors’ and producers’ rights in the audiovisual field, has started a campaign dubbed “Because It Is Fair!” (a short video outlining the issues can be watched here). Many of the most prominent Bulgarian directors, among them Stephan Komandarev, Milko Lazarov, Tonislav Hristov, Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva, rallied behind Filmautor and signed an open letter that was sent to Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Bulgarian Minister of Culture Boil Banov, and the chairman of the Culture and Media Committee in the Parliament, Vezhdi Rashidov.

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Chairman of Filmautor Victor Bojinov – whose period drama Heights/The Liberators [+see also:
film profile
is among the very few Bulgarian features to have topped the local box-office charts in its first weekend on release (see the news) – tells Cineuropa, “We asked the Ministry of Culture to form a commission that has to decide on the [broadcasting] tariffs. There are five members in it. They have three months to decide on the tariffs. The worst-case scenario would be if they finish their work without any concrete decision. What we expect is the Ministry of Culture to support the authors and the copyright rules.” Unfortunately, Bulgarian law allows this commission to reach no solution, in which case the entire initiative would be back to square one.

According to Bojinov, suing the cable operators and television channels is neither easy nor efficient: “We've had several court cases, but the court practice is quite controversial – we had contradictory decisions on identical claims. Collecting royalties through court proceedings is very costly.” The only hope for the local filmmaking community is for a clear and lasting stance to be adopted by the decision makers, which would bring Bulgaria up to the same level as Romania, where every year, Dacin Sara, the local counterpart of Filmautor, manages millions of euros in royalties received for the dissemination of audiovisual works by Romanian filmmakers.

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