4. Law and legislation
Last update: March, 2020
Texts from the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (1991), which directly refer to the cultural field, are the following:
Bulgarian shall be the official language of the Republic.
(1) The practicing of any religion shall be free.
(2) The religious institutions shall be separate from the state.
(1) The state shall enjoy exclusive ownership rights over the nether of the earth; the coastal beaches; the national thoroughfares, as well as over waters, forests and parks of national importance, and the natural and archaeological reserves established by law.
The state shall establish conditions conductive to the free development of science, education and the arts, and shall assist that development. It shall organise the conservation of all national monuments of history and culture.
(1) The study and use of the Bulgarian language shall be a right and an obligation of every Bulgarian citizen.
(2) Citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian shall have the right to study their own language alongside the compulsory study of the Bulgarian language.
(1) Everyone shall be entitled to express an opinion or to publicise it through words, written or oral, sound or image, or in any other way.
(2) This right shall not be used to the detriment of the rights and reputation of others, or for the incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of enmity or violence against anyone.
(1) The press and the other mass information media shall be free and not be subjected to censorship.
(2) An injunction on, or a confiscation of printed matter or another information medium shall be allowed only through an act of the judicial authorities in the case of an encroachment on public decency or incitement of a forcible change of the constitutionally established order, the perpetration of a crime, or the incitement of violence against anyone. An injunction suspension shall lose force if not followed by a confiscation within 24 hours.
(1) Everyone shall have the right to avail himself of the national and universal human cultural values and to develop his own culture in accordance with his ethnic self-identification, which shall be recognised and guaranteed by the law.
(2) Artistic, scientific and technological creativity shall be recognised and guaranteed by the law.
(3) The state shall protect all inventors' rights, copyrights and related rights.
Last update: March, 2020
In the Republic of Bulgaria, the municipality is the main administrative territorial unit, of local self-government. The Municipal Council is the main authority. Representatives are elected from their respective constituencies for a period of four years.
At the end of 2002, the first regulatory steps were taken to normalise the financial decentralisation of public services, to be carried out by the municipalities including cultural activities. The main aim was to increase local income and a maximum level of local autonomy as well as to define the character and content of municipal services.
Upon Decree of the Council of Ministers (No.°16/2003), all public services were divided into two groups:
- Activities delegated from the state in the fields of education, healthcare, social affairs and partially in the field of culture. Minimal standards have been adopted regarding the number of staff, amount of salaries, insurances and maintenance of buildings. The state is responsible for their financing through assigned taxes and for providing supplementary subsidies in cases when municipal funds are not sufficient to meet these standards; and
- Local activities including public utilities, sanitation, kindergartens and most activities in the field of culture. Financing is generated from local taxes and charges, property management, fines, etc. Those municipalities with a low capacity to generate their own income receive compensation subsidies. Investments are financed through grants which are within the realm of government priorities and objectives.
2003 was the first year that this division of labour was realised and this was seen as a serious step forward to strengthen local self-government and to overcome problems of the individual municipalities.
In 2016, the Decentralisation Strategy 2016-2025 by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works was adopted. It provides measures to develop decentralisation at national, regional and local level. The strategy also focuses on the cultural sector. The state cultural institutes are financed from the budget of the Ministry of Culture in whole or in part, with funds from the municipal budgets on the basis of concluding contracts with the department or with the participation of legal entities or people.
Last update: March, 2020
Social security for artists is regulated by the Labour Code and the Ordinance on Social Security of Persons who Practice a Liberal Profession and of the Bulgarian Citizens Working Abroad (2000). Under these laws, artists practising a liberal profession are treated equally with those who have registered companies as sole traders or partners in commercial corporations under the Commercial Code.
In both cases, the compulsory social security (last update as of 2019) contributions are:
• For people born before 1960 and operating as self-insured persons or companies, they pay a retirement insurance for all insurance risks of 23.3% of income of their choice. Those who are born after 1959 – 18.3%. The compulsory health insurance based on the income of their choice is 8%. The minimum income to be insured is BGN 560 (EUR 286) and the maximum income is BGN 3000 (EUR 1533). The statutory tax deductions are 60% of the declared income.
• Born before 1960, employed under a contract of employment and falling into category III labour (employees in a field with low work related risk) and their social security contribution, which includes a pension fund, general illness and maternity, and unemployment, the share is 24.3% of their income. For those born after 1959 the share is 19.3%. Compulsory health insurance based on the income on which they are insured is 8%, 4.8% is at the expense of the employer and 3.2% is personal.
Taking into consideration the unique nature of the work performed by artists, an amendment was made to the Transitional and Final Provisions of the Protection and Development of Culture Act (1999) which now entitles artists who have worked for at least four of the past twelve months (without entering into an employment relationship in artistic associations) to obtain unemployment benefits.
Last update: March, 2020
To encourage private persons and companies to sponsor the development of the arts and culture, a tax deduction is provided to resident and non-resident natural persons and legal entities. This amounts up to 10% for donations for cultural purposes, as well as for conservation and restoration of historical and cultural monuments, or for grants. The rate of tax deduction was increased from 5% to 10% under amendments to the Corporate Income Tax Act (2007) adopted at the beginning of 2002.
Artists pay taxes under the Personal Income Tax Act (2007), which allows them to deduct 50% of their expenses from taxable income received for the creation of works of art, science and culture, folk arts and crafts, and copyright royalties. Furthermore, taking into account the specificity of creative work, the legislation provides an opportunity for income averaging derived from creative work undertaken in the course of more than one year (e.g. the writing of a book), but not exceeding four years. Artists thus avoid the progressive annual income tax.
There is a unified rate of VAT of 20% for everything in Bulgaria – including cultural goods and services. According to an amendment of the VAT Act (2007), under Article 42, the levy of VAT on the tickets for concerts, performances (excluding variety programmes, bars, clubs), museums, art galleries, zoo’s, botanical gardens, architectural and archaeological sites is cancelled as of 2005. The same Article stipulates VAT exemption on activities carried out by the Bulgarian National Radio, Bulgarian National Television and Bulgarian News Agency, for which these institutions receive a subsidy from the state.
Since 2014, there is a debate going on in the National Assembly on a bill proposing some tax concessions which would support Bulgarian culture.
Please see chapter 4.1.3.
Last update: March, 2020
The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (1993) protects a maximum range of copyright and neighbouring rights. In 1995, the Parliament ratified the Rome Convention and the Geneva Convention.
On 25 July 2002, the 39th National Assembly passed an Act to amend the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, which brings Bulgarian legislation in line with its commitments regarding international agreements with the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Articles in Bulgaria's Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act supplement and adjust the legal framework to include provisions on the fair use of works online and the introduction of new technologies. The purpose was to adjust copyright protection to the new environment and harmonise certain aspects related to regulations on the right to reproduce and distribute works via the Internet.
Legal protection is also provided to database producers. Producers are granted special rights on the original selection or arrangement of the database for a period of fifteen years. Special attention is also paid to organisations for collective copyright management. They have been assigned an increasing role in guaranteeing the observance and protection of copyright and neighbouring rights. Under Article 26 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, royalties on recordings for personal use are payable to the organisations representing the different categories of copyright holders under the Act. Such organisations are also authorised to represent members in disputes of civil law.
According to the Ordinance Establishing a Procedure and Terms for the Allocation of Funds from Fines Collected under Article 97 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act, adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2002, 50% of the collected fines (for violating copyright) are transferred to the bank account of the Culture National Fund, and the remaining 50% to the Ministry of Culture budget. They are to be used for copyright protection.
By the end of 2005, some very important legislative acts, in the protection of the rights on intellectual property, were initiated by the Ministry of Culture and passed by the Parliament.
The Act to Amend and Supplement the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act was adopted. Thus, the regulation of two new directives of the European Union was incorporated into Bulgarian legislation, namely:
• Directive 2001/84/ЕU dated 27.09.2001, related to the right to resell original art works; and
• Directive 2004/48/ЕU dated 29.04.2004, related to implementation of rights regarding intellectual property.
The legislative changes also regulate, and in much more detail, the procedures for the legal administrative powers of those authorities within the Ministry of Culture, which are responsible for monitoring compliance in this field. The new legislation also increases the fines which are applicable for any violations.
The transposed directives entered into force with the accession of Bulgaria to the EU in 2007.
In September 2005, the Act on Administrative Control on the Production and Trading of Optical Disks, Matrixes and Other Storage Media Containing Copies or Objectives of the Copy and Neighbouring Rights was introduced. The law envisages clear and accurately written orders and conditions for obtaining the respective registration or licensing permission, as well as a very detailed mechanism for control, prevention and sanctions, which guarantees conformity with the law, both in execution, by the state bodies, of activities for the administration of these regimes, and in implementation of the regulated business activates.
As an EU Member State, Bulgaria is obliged to transpose into its national legislation the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. The deadline for this task is March 2021.
Last update: March, 2020
A Law on the Protection of Personal Information (Official Gazette No.°1/2002) regulates the protection of physical persons in the processing of personal data and the access to these data. The objective of the law is to guarantee the inviolability of persons and personal life, as well as to protect physical persons from illegal processing of personal data and to regulate access to such data. Under the provisions of this law, "personal data" is defined as "information about the physical person, which reveals his physical, mental, psychological, marital, economic, cultural or civil identity".
The General Data Protection Regulation came into force on May 25, 2018, after it was adopted in 2016. In Bulgaria, changes to the Law on the Protection of Personal Information were promulgated nearly a year later at the end of February 2019. There are registered breaches of GDPR in Bulgaria. The two biggest violations in the country so far are the breaches in the systems of the National Revenue Agency and OTP Bank.
Please see chapter 2.5.4.
Information is currently not available.
Last update: March, 2020
The main law in the field of culture in Bulgaria is the Law on Prevention and Development of Culture. Another crucial law at the national level is the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, where the foundation of artists' freedoms is guaranteed.
There are three laws governing the specialised legislation in the country:
• Law on the State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria;
• Public Finance Act;
• State Aid Act and Rules for Implementation of the State Aid Act.
In addition, there are eleven specific laws and acts in the field of culture covering the arts, cultural and creative industries, cultural heritage and cultural tourism:
• Law on Protection and Development of Culture;
• Film Industry Act;
• Law on Radio and Television;
• Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act;
• Cultural Heritage Act;
• National Chitalishte Act;
• Law on Public Libraries;
• Law on Patronage;
• “13th Century Bulgaria” Fund Act;
• Law on the Administrative Regulation of the Production and Trade of Optical Discs, Matrixes and Other Media Containing Copyright Objects and Related Rights;
• Compulsory Deposit of Copies of Printed and Other Works Act
Table 2: International legal instruments implemented by Bulgaria in the cultural field
|Title of the act||Year of adoption|
|UNESCO World Heritage Convention (1972)||1974|
|Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954)||1956|
|Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970)|
|Universal Copyright Convention (1952)||1974|
|Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)||2006|
|UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)||2007|
|Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)||2010|
|COUNCIL OF EUROPE|
|European Cultural Convention (1954)||1991|
|Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (Granada, 1985)||1991|
|Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage of Europe (1992)||1995|
|Europe Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (1992)||2006|
|The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)||2007|
|Communication from the Commission on State aid for films and other audiovisual works ( 2013)||2013|
|Directive 2014/60/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State and amending Regulation (EU) No 1024/2012||2014|
|Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) (2018)||2018|
|Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 of 18 December 2008 on the export of cultural goods||2009|
|Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997||2007|
|Directive 2007/65/EC of the European parliament and the council of 11 December 2007||2007|
|Council Directive 89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by Law, Regulation or Administrative Action in Member States concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities||2007|
|Communication from the Commission - Guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines||2014|
|Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society||2007|
|Commission Directive 2002/77/EC of 16 September 2002 on competition in the markets for electronic communications networks and services||2007|
|Directive 2003/33/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 May 2003 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products||2007|
|Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’)||2007|
|Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee - Enhancing the enforcement of intellectual property rights in the internal market||2009|
|Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)||2010|
|Judgment of the EU Commercial Court (Case C-314/14)|
Last update: March, 2020
The Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria(1991) stipulates the commitment of the state to be responsible for the national cultural and historic heritage preservation. It stipulates that the natural and archaeological reserves defined by law are exclusively owned by the state and guarantees the natural and irrevocable right to access to cultural heritage without discriminative restrictions of any ethnic-cultural and religious nature. The legislative framework of the cultural and historic heritage sector was defined by two main pieces of legislation. The state cultural policy's main principles are fixed in the Protection and Development of Culture Act (1999), which is a common legal Act for the entire field of culture.
The Cultural Heritage Act (2009), adopted by the Parliament in February 2009, replaced one of the most outdated operative regulations in the country: The Law of Cultural Monuments and Museums (1969). The Culture Heritage Act defines the main scope of cultural heritage and the main areas of its preservation and protection. The law introduced new categories of cultural heritage: "tangible and intangible, moveable and immoveable, as bearers of historic memory, national identity and which have a scientific or cultural value" (Art. 2). The scope of cultural heritage has been enlarged to include intangible heritage, industrial heritage, underwater heritage, audio-visual heritage, landscapes etc., specified in Art. 6. It defines cultural values and stipulates equality of access, decentralisation and transparency of management, and protection of cultural heritage (Art. 2 and 3). It also introduced the national system of protection and preservation of cultural heritage and the different levels of management.
In 2019, the law was amended and the documents certifying the existence of the requirements of the Cultural Heritage Act (2009) for museum activity by private museums were regulated. In addition, the deadline for obtaining permission from the Minister of Culture was reduced. The requirements for the coordination of conservation and management plans, development plans and specific rules and requests for intervention in protected areas for the protection of cultural heritage were also regulated. Requirements for the issue of permits for the production of replicas and replicas of cultural values of national or world importance have been also added, as well as requirements for the conservation and restoration of movable cultural values.
Last update: March, 2020
In 2010, there was a draft proposal of the Performing Arts Law, which recognised the multiple forms of performing arts making up the theatre network in Bulgaria. Under this proposed bill, equal treatment was to be given to all theatrical organisations when competing for project funding. It also outlined the shared rights and responsibilities of the state and local authorities in development of theatrical activities in Bulgaria. The law was ultimately not adopted, and the theatre sector in Bulgaria continues to press а public debate for its adoption.
Last update: March, 2020
There is no special law on visual and / or applied arts in Bulgaria.
Last update: March, 2020
In 2000, a new law was adopted regarding the obligatory depositing of copies of printed and other works. The objective of the law is to ensure the collection and preservation of copies of printed works; works circulated/disseminated by sound recordings; cine-film or electronic format stored by physical and juridical persons; and dissertations and research works qualifying for academic recognition. These can be works protected within the country and/or produced by Bulgarian citizens abroad. Orders, medals, badges and plaques, coins and bank-notes, post stamps designed for usage in the country are also included in the law. It also regulates the preservation of complete collections of works as part of the national cultural heritage, ensuring public access to compulsory copies, as well as preparation, publishing, and dissemination of bibliographic information.
The Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (1993) defines public lending as "distribution of a work, which means the sale, exchange, donation, rental or lending, import and export, as well as the offer for sale or rental of any originals and copies of the work".
The Public Libraries Act (2009) regulates the conditions that public libraries need to meet, their financing, their governance and interaction in a national network. Unified standards for the work of the libraries and the services they provide are introduced.
The law envisages the creation of a National Library Council at the Ministry of Culture, which prepares strategies for the development of library activities, measures for the preservation of the funds and for citizen access to cultural heritage. The law envisages sanctions for those who lose, damage or destroy documents from the library fund and for officials who fail to secure conditions for their preservation.
In 2015, by order of the Minister of Culture, the Standard for Library Information Services has been approved. The document defines the conditions for the operation of public libraries in Bulgaria and it includes:
• Indicators for regional, municipal and community libraries;
• Indicators for measuring the effectiveness of library activity in public libraries;
• Indicators for the National Library St. St. Cyril and Methodius.
Although it has no legal basis, there is an Ethics Charter for Bulgarian Publishers, Book Distributors, Literary Agents, Libraries and Translators. It aims to contribute to the full access of society to information, education and cultural values, to ensure its right to satisfy intellectual and spiritual needs through works and services, created and offered by the book sector.
Last update: March, 2020
The Film Industry Act
The current Film Industry Act was adopted in 2003. It addresses issues related to the production, distribution, promotion and screening of films in the country, as well as state support for the film industry. The law prioritises as a state policy:
• The right of public access to various forms of filmmaking;
• Protecting the rights and interests of viewers;
• Supporting new talent and young authors;
• Presentation of Bulgarian cinema in the country and abroad; and
• Creation of conditions for work of foreign film productions in Bulgaria.
With the implementation of the Film Industry Act (2003), the National Film Centre was founded, with an Executive Agency under the Minister of Culture. It operates the National Cinema Council, the National Arts Commission, the National Film Categorisation Commission, the National Technical Commission and the Finance Commission. The Act also regulates the licensing of film producers and cinemas.
The subsidy for the Agency is provided annually by The Law on the State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria. According to the changes made in 2018, the annual amount of the subsidy cannot be less than the sum of the average budgets of the previous year for seven feature films, fourteen feature-length documentaries and 160 minutes of animation. It also provides funding for national festivals, organised by the Agency.
In November 2018, the National Assembly voted for amending the Film Industry Act. The regulation in the country was synchronised with the Regulation 651/2014 of the European Commission concerning the allocation of state funding for cinema. The changes were made almost a year late – the National Film Center had a four-year period (from early 2014 to December 31st, 2017) to state new funding rules. Due to the delay, the National Film Centre was denied the right to allocate funds to already approved projects and Bulgarian cinema was threatened with having to record zero years.
One of the major changes is related to the distribution of Bulgarian films, as prescribed by the Regulation: distributors have to appear to a finance committee and an artistic committee. As in production, the goal is to guarantee the quality of the content.
Discussions are taking place in 2019 to reform the already outdated Film Industry Act (2003). Currently, there is a draft law that is expected to be adopted by the end 2019 and enter into force in 2020. The purpose of the changes is to attract more foreign production.
One of the ideas is to return 25%, or up to EUR 2.5 million, of the funds invested in Bulgaria to foreign producers. It is also envisaged that the national budget will allocate EUR 20 million for stimulation of cinema.
In this moment, the ‘analogue’ Law on Radio and Television (1999) is still into force in Bulgaria. It sets the following programming quotas:
• At least 50% of the total annual programme time for European and Bulgarian programming, excluding newscasts, sports show, game shows on radio and TV, commercials and the radio and TV market, if possible.
• Bulgarian National Television must allocate at least 10% of the National Budget subsidies and Radio and Television Fund subsidies for the production of Bulgarian television films. Blank tape levies are regulated by Article 26 of the Copyright and Neighbouring Rights Act (1993). Electronic Communications Act (2007), which regulates the field related to communications via electronic means and the interrelations among the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) and the Council of Electronic Media (CEM) in the area of digital radio broadcasting. It also regulates the individual licensing for broadcasting. .
The Law on Radio and Television is in line with the European Directive 2007/65 / EC (Audiovisual Media Services Directive). The amendments extend the scope of the regulation to introduce the concept of ‘audiovisual media services and radio services’ and the mode of regulation of commercial communications.
In 2019, a debate took place to reform the Law on Radio and Television (1999). The idea is that it should include online websites as well. The changes are necessary because of the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive, adopted in 2018. Bulgaria has until September 2020 to transpose it into its national legislation.
Last update: March, 2020
The architectural sites and complexes, as well as art in the public space and landscape architecture fall within the scope of the Cultural Heritage Act (2009). In this law, immovable cultural values are divided into categories, including ‘ensemble meaning’. It includes the spatial characteristics and architectural typology of the group value to which they belong. The section for the conservation of cultural property states that the restoration and conservation activities, as well as the adaptation of immovable cultural property, are carried out by persons with a specialisation in architecture with an additional specialisation in the specific field (such as urbanism and landscape architecture) and three years of professional experience in architecture and five years of professional experience in conservation and restoration in the field of immovable cultural heritage. It is also defined who prepares the conservation, restoration and adaptation projects.
Issues related to architecture, sites of cultural, historical, ethnographic and architectural significance are also included in The Law on the Spatial Planning (1977). It regulates the public relations related to the structure of the territory, the investment design and construction in the Republic of Bulgaria, and it defines the restrictions on the property for development purposes.
Advertising services in Bulgaria are not regulated by a separate law, but The Law on Protection of Competition (Articles 32, 33 and 34) defines misleading and comparative advertising and prohibits both types in the country. The Law on Radio and Television regulates the advertising of products such as cigarettes and alcohol on the air. In addition, time is set for advertising in the public and commercial media. There is also a separate sponsorship section for advertising.