Following Russia's legalization of software piracy, which essentially allows all Russian citizens to steal anything off the internet that isn't available locally, Belarus has enacted a similar law effective January 3.
As signed by Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka and reported by PC Gamer, the new law allows Belarusians to use software, music, movies, and more with "without the consent of the rights holder" if such copyrighted materials are "from foreign states committing unfriendly actions." Belarus is under sanctions from most Western governments for its involvement in the Russo-Ukraine war.
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The wording of the law is incredibly broad and essentially allows data piracy in all forms so long as it's "essential for the domestic market." There are no specifics about what the law deems "essential," so your interpretation is as good as anyone else's. Well, except possibly the Belarusian government of course.
The wildest part about the law is that anyone committing piracy technically has to pay the Belarusian Patent Authority for the privilege. An official report must be sent to the authority, who will then charge the pirater whatever amount it deems appropriate. Copyright holders aware that someone in Belarus has pirated their stuff can then petition the Belarusian government for remuneration. What that remuneration will be is also set by the Belarusian government, and the patent authority will take an additional 20 percent on whatever payout the government decides.
And if no copyright holder asks for their money? Then Belarus keeps it, naturally.
It seems like the law is set up to shake down its own citizens more than foreign corporations, who are probably going to ignore Belarus as a haven for pirates as there’s no telling what copyright holders would get even if they asked to be paid.
While Belarus sort of gives the green light to software piracy, Russia is considering what to do about its shattered video games industry. One such idea being considered is to create a national game publisher of the same size and scale as Electronic Arts. No word yet if the Russian Duma plans to follow through on this proposal just yet.