Creative Commons License Recognized in Bulgarian Court

Bulgarian blogger Elenko Elenkov writes that the Sofia City Court started the case, which he filed against the 24 hours daily (a WAZ newspaper) for using a picture, made by Elenko, without following the license, which he is using on his site (Creative Commons – by-sa).
On June 6 2007, Elenko made this picture, showing a license plate with 6 digits “8″.
On September 20, 2007 “24 hours” published the same picture on their cover page, without mentioning the author, or using the same license (CC).
Four days later the newspaper acknowledged that Elenko is the author of the picture, with a small text “correction”.
Two days after that, Elenko sent a notary letter, asking them for a payment of his work.
The newspaper decided not to pay. Elenko got a lawyer, and has received also advise from CC-Bulgaria experts Peio Popov and Svetozara Petkova*, and filed a case.

During the first hearing yesterday, May 27, 2008, “24 hours” daily admitted in the court room that Elenko is the author of the picture and that they have breached his copy rights, and offered compensation for the publication.
But they didn’t offer compensation for the moral damages, and there will be a second hearing on November 11, 2008, where Elenko will bring a witness to describe how he felt when his picture was stolen by the newspaper, so that the court can determine the right amount of money to be paid to Elenko as a compensation.

This is a good sign about the Bulgarian legal system, and about Creative Commons users in the country!

update: There was an interview between the legal counsel of WAZ in Bulgaria and Elenko tonight, on re:tv, and as it turned out, the argument now is not about the copyright, but about the price which the newspaper should pay. The author is asking for Euro 500, but “24 daily” is willing to give him only Euro 50. This small amount is really amazing, given the fact that they have 100,000 copies circulation (second biggest in Bulgaria). The “24 hours” acknowledged the license, although the counsel attempted in the live interview to say that before the case, Elenko’s site was with restricted copyright. This is not true, as it has been licensed under CC since 2003.

Update-2 (June 02,2008):
I got a copy of the case, provided kindly with the agreement of Mr. Elenkov. Here are some interesting details from there:
The picture was published twice – on the cover page, and on page 3. As an author on page 3 was mentioned “Internet”.
On page 39 of the newspaper it states “The information published in the 24 hours, is by the reporters of the newspapers, bulletins of the BTA, Associated Press and Reuters. Reprinting of texts or pictures without the written agreement of the publishers is forbidden”
The correction published on Sept. 24 was under the headline, “pictures from the Internet forums also have an author”, and text that the picture was published “in one of the Internet forums”, and the author was Elenko Elenkov.
The lawyer has based his case on the existing Copyright Law of Bulgaria, and does not mention Creative Commons by name. He did something smarter – he claims, “the conditions, which I’ve put in order for someone to use my work, have not been met by the defendant”. The conditions on his site have been CC since 2003.
Elenko claims that the correction published by the newspaper is impairing his image, rather than admitting him as the author.

____
* They contributed quite well to the localization of the CC in Bulgaria.

7 thoughts on “Creative Commons License Recognized in Bulgarian Court

  1. Carl

    People have sued for a lot more than 500 euros for distress and anguish – but then again, this was really a breach of copyright, because if you breach a CC licence, you lose it. People have been sued for millions for distributing music in breach of copyright. So, 50 euros is just an insult, and 500 euros is getting off cheap (how much do you think the newspaper made by using the photo?)

    Reply
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