Bulgaria Approves Draft Law That Turns Pirate Site Operators Into Criminals
A draft law that aims to criminalize and prosecute those who “create conditions for online piracy” has been approved by Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers. The proposed amendments are Bulgaria’s response to heavy criticism from the United States, most publicly via the USTR’s Special 301 Reports. It’s hoped that prison sentences of up to six years will send a deterrent message.
When countries are placed on the USTR’s ‘Watch List’ for failing to combat piracy, most can expect years of pressure punctuated by annual Special 301 Reports declaring more needs to be done.
Bulgaria was on the Watch List in 2015 when the USTR reported “incremental progress” in the country’s ability to tackle intellectual property infringement, albeit nowhere near enough to counter unsatisfactory prosecution rates. In 2013, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture had carried out 743 checks related to online copyright infringement but a year later, it conducted just 13 (pdf).
Still, the United States reported that Bulgaria was continuing its efforts to draft a new Criminal Code with the goal of significantly reducing piracy. That would eventually arrive, but not for quite some time.
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