Report Claims Russia Has “Effectively Legalised Piracy” To Overcome Western Sanctions

Image: Nintendo

A new report is claiming that Russia is seeking to change its laws on piracy in an attempt to overcome the growing problem of foreign companies boycotting the nation in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.

Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have all put a stop to sales in Russia, while other companies have pulled their products and made donations to humanitarian organisations.

However, according to City AM – which cites the state-backed newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta as the basis for its report – the Russian government has decided to alter some of its intellectual property rules so that its people and industry can overcome these boycotts.

The report claims that Russia’s actions have “effectively legalised piracy” – with new laws allowing Russian companies to bypass copyright laws relating to media from “unfriendly” countries. These local firms do not have to pay to leverage the IP of companies.

The potential changes don’t relate directly to video games and are more focused on allowing Russian companies to manufacture items that would normally come from outside of the country, but according to Torrent Freak, the plans do seem to cover software as well.

The key reference is made in a document produced by the Russian government entitled ‘Priority Action Plan for Ensuring the Development of the Russian Economy in the Conditions of External Sanctions Pressure’. In it, the potential “cancellation of liability for the use of software unlicensed in the Russian Federation, owned by a copyright holder from countries that have supported the sanctions” is mentioned.

So what does this all mean? Essentially, the Russian state wouldn’t seek to charge anyone who had illegally downloaded or used software that belonged to a copyright holder based outside of Russia that had chosen to pull its products from sale. That includes, as we’ve already established, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, as well as numerous other firms.

Nintendo has spent a lot of time and money on cracking down on the piracy of its games, with the most recent example being a jail term for hacker Gary Bowser.


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