The criminal remedies were introduced to the Criminal Code in 1968 and later in 1995, when the Parliament adopted amendments to the Criminal Code. The latter happened under the influence of international organisations that insisted on the adoption of more effective measures by the Bulgarian legislation to combat infringements. Criminal remedies have both advantages and disadvantages. Criminal sanctions (fine and imprisonment) have a dissuasive effect, which may be characterised as one of their advantages. As for the disadvantages, it is generally stated that technology has made copyright infringement highly profitable and even substantial fines do not have the desirable dissuasive effect. What is more, the courts in most developed countries are not inclined to sentence a defendant to prison on grounds of copyright infringement, except for the most severe such cases, or if the defendant has a pre-existent criminal record. Another drawback of criminal remedies is that imposed fines do not compensate the copyright owner, but go to the State.
All this explains why in 1968, when the Bulgarian Criminal Code adopts plagiarism for the first time, the number of such cases is limited.
The amendments of the Criminal Code in 1995 were made in response to the significant increase of the piracy of intellectual property. The concept of “intellectual property” was introduced for the first time with amendments and additions to the Criminal Code. The subsequent amendment took place in 2006. A separate section under number 7 was added to Chapter Three – “Crimes Against Intellectual Property”, which includes three main kinds of crimes concerning the issues of copyright and neighbouring rights:
the so-called “counterfeiting” – Article 172a of the Criminal Code
the crime of “plagiarism”- Article 173 of the Criminal Code
the crime of “forced joint authorship” – Article 174 of the Criminal Code
The crime under Article 172a of the Criminal Code consists of recording,
reproducing, distributing, broadcasting or transmitting, or any other use the object of a copyright or neighbouring right without the consent of the owner of holder of such right as required by law. The act of perpetration of both kinds of crimes may only be realised through action. The action shall
constitute unlawful exploitation of someone else’s intellectual property. This regulation is blanket in nature and the content of the concepts it comprises derive from the content of the same concepts under CNRA. The said acts prejudice the interests of the owner of copyright in a scientific, literary or artistic work. They shall be punishable by imprisonment up to five years and a fine up to BGN 5,000. The crime is premeditated.
The Criminal Code also defines as a crime the detainment of material media containing the object of copyright or a neighbouring right, amounting to a large-scale value (70 times the minimum wage), or the detainment of a matrix for the reproduction of such media. This crime shall be punished by imprisonment from two to five years and a fine from BGN 2,000 to 5,000. The crime is premeditated.
Plagiarism is also established as criminal offence under the Bulgarian Criminal Code. A person who publishes or uses under his own name or under a pen name the work of another person in the field of science, literature or arts or a considerable part thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to two years or by a fine from BGN one hundred to three hundred, as well as public censure. “Plagiarism” is prejudicial to the author’s moral right to demand that his name (or pseudonym) be indicated accordingly whenever the work is used. The unlawful act is committed if someone else’s work is published or used under the perpetrator’s own name. The crime is premeditated.
“Forced joint authorship” under Article 174 of the Criminal Code is a punishable act committed when a person has himself included as a co-author of a work of science, literature or arts, without having taken part in the creative work for its elaboration. The perpetrator is a person who has himself included by abusing his official position. The realisation of a material profit is not a necessary condition for the act to be corpus deliciti. This crime shall be punished by imprisonment for up to two years or by a fine from BGN one hundred to three hundred, as well as by public censure. The crime is premeditated.