Russia Tries To Dodge Sanctions By Legalizing Software Piracy

As recently stated in multiple reports, Russia has taken to weakening its intellectual property laws in an attempt to dodge around international sanctions.

One tech blog, TorrentFreak, that focuses on peer-to-peer file-sharing and use of the BitTorrent system, along with copyright infringement and other digital issues, reported this past week that members of the Russian parliament were considering new laws that would remove liability to purchase intellectual properties from any countries that have placed sanctions against Russia over its whole invasion of Ukraine, a choice that effectively legalizes online piracy.

TorrentFreak highlighted a document that was issued by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development entitled the “Priority Action Plan for Ensuring the Development of the Russian Economy in the Conditions of External Sanctions Pressure.” The document holds suggestions for how the Russian government should proceed in the face of extreme sanctions placed on the country by the U.S. and the rest of its Western Allies. An item called point 6.7.3, talking about how to deal with various companies that have revoked software licenses across Russia, stated as a possible option :

Cancellation of liability for the use of software (SW) unlicensed in the Russian Federation, owned by a copyright holder from countries that have supported the sanctions.


As stated in current Russian law, reported the people at TorrentFreak, software unlicensed in Russia is entirely illegal to use, but the proposal from the MInistry would try to cancel both criminal and civil liability for software for which there are no legal Russian alternatives.

Various Russian news outlets reported this past week that Russia was planning to utilize such a move in order to get past Western sanctions. One state-owned Russian news site called TASS reported on the 5th of march that the Ministry of Economic Development had been talking about lifting international property limitations in the face of recent sanctions. It has been translated that the Ministry stated:

The possibility of lifting restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods, the supply of which to Russia is limited, is being considered. This will smooth out the impact on the market of breaks in supply chains, as well as the shortage of goods and services that arose due to new sanctions by Western countries.

Software originally coming from Russia would not be counted under this new proposal, stated the ministry. They would, in particular, target any companies that have not fulfilled “contractual and other obligations” to Russia. The Ministry went on to state that the proposed measures would allow for continued access to technology that the sanctions from the West have forced out of reach.



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