CISAC society MUSICAUTOR finds success in court battle to update public radio royalties


For some societies, updating tariffs and rates can be a long process that requires the involvement of government officials and the courts. In a closely watched case in Bulgaria, CISAC member MUSICAUTOR recently found success in its journey to update copyright royalties from Bulgarian National Radio (BNR).

In 2016, the CISAC member society started to renegotiate terms and royalties due from the public broadcaster that were set in a 2011 agreement. The goal was to level the playing field among public and private radio broadcasters as well as to take into consideration a higher percentage of music used in BNR programmes compared to those from the previous agreement. These updated rates were approved between MUSICAUTOR and the organisation representing radio broadcasters ABBRO

BNR refused to accept these rates, which led to their license to broadcast MUSICAUTOR’s repertoire being terminated. BNR continued to use the repertoire despite not having a license, while also trying to collect for authors and not remunerating them. This refusal escalated to an anti-competitive behaviour court case taken against MUSICAUTOR, which was initially decided in favour of BNR by the Commission on Protection of Competition but then appealed.

In 2017, MUSICAUTOR and BNR came to an agreement on licensing for a period of three years, including a gradual increase in rates to reach private radio levels.

On July 3rd, 2019, this appeal was finally decided favourably for the Bulgarian society by the Supreme Administrative Court. It concluded that the Commission’s decision ignored MUSICAUTOR’s objections, violating and misapplying law to come to conclusions that were inconsistent with facts. The CISAC society also successfully showed how the broadcaster’s arguments lacked analysis or compliance with law.

The case is now sent back to the Commission for reconsideration, notching a win for the CISAC member society in its efforts to improving royalties from the public radio broadcaster.