Sunday, July 09, 2006

Trud publishers showing muscles to blind people

I have several times cited Trud, the most popular Bulgarian daily newspaper. This is not because I like it. On the contrary, I'd advise readers to put rubber gloves on their hands before even touching it. But we have to read some paper, how else can we can be (dis)informed. Trud's German publisher, WAZ (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung), widely believed to be connected to the former Communist secret police Stasi, has monopolized Bulgarian newspaper market. Demokratsia, the daily paper I used to read, was driven out of business. So I read Trud sometimes, although I don't like it at all. It has grown into a sub-empire and has its own publishing house with ambitious business goals.
A monopolist is of course expected to be insolent and nasty, a bully to everybody thought to present even the slightest challenge to his monopolism. But these days I read about some actions that seem to go too far even for a monopolist. Trud Publishing House has acquired the copyright over the works of Elin Pelin, Angel Karaliichev and other 20th century Bulgarian classics (or at least Trud people say they have the copyright - nobody has been shown any documents!). By the way some of these works are taught at school, so every Bulgarian schoolkid has to give money to Trud in order to do his study. But the most outrageous thing is the action against Victor Lubenov and his site Blind since childhood, Victor created this site to help other visually impaired people to use computer and widen their world. Among other literature classics, he had uploaded some works by E. Pelin and A. Karaliichev in a format suitable for use by the blind. However, Trud notified him that they had the copyright and he had to remove these texts from the site. To stay out of harm's way, he complied, but that was not enough. Trud complained to the National Service for Contol of Organized Crime (NSBOP), a specialized police department. Victor was summoned there and intimidated. (Bulgarian police is too often hired by those who can pay and used as a weapon against those who cannot.) So far go Trud people in their effort to get every possible penny, even from the blind.
When Victor and his supporters complained to the few non-WAZ media, the answer was, "We cannot tell your story to the public - our policy is not to criticize other media." Finally, Weekly Mail ("Sedmichna poshta") published a report and so I learned about the case. This paper contains mainly ads and is distributed freely to Sofia residents' mailboxes. I usually pay no attention to it, considering it a spam.
Details in the Web: in Bulgarian at, in English at, in both languages at and The last site contains, at, e-mails of Trud Publishing House where one can send his opinion about their anti-blind campaign.

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