Until 2025, a recent law in Belarus somewhat legalizes piracy which includes all softwares

A recent law in Belarus somewhat legalizes piracy. It covers all media produced by rights holders in “unfriendly nations,” which includes the US, UK, and EU member states. This consists of all software, motion pictures, music, and television programs. On December 20, 2022, the House of Representatives ratified the legislation, and the next day, the Council of the Republic also approved it. The law was enacted last week after being signed by “President” Alexander Lukashenko.

The Council of the Republic and the Belarus House of Representatives approved the law on December 20, 2022. The bill was enacted last week and became effective this week after being signed by “President” Alexander Lukashenko.

As retaliation for Belarus’ support of the invasion of Ukraine, sanctions were placed on it, prompting the legislation. Because Belarus significantly relies on foreign-produced media for entertainment and software infrastructure, its leaders have justified piracy as a temporary band-aid to protect the nation’s economy from crushing embargoes.

While the law deprives IP owners of their copyrights in Belarus, TorrentFreak points out that they may still be compensated for stolen content in the future—possibly—at a cost. Consumers must still pay for the content, according to the legislation. This money will be gathered and held by the nation’s National Patent Authority (NPA) for three years. Owners of the rights may collect their money throughout such time. However, there are several issues with how the legislators set up the system.

Government-run piracy

First, the “price” of things will not be determined by rightsholders. Costs will follow only the fair market’s norms and trends. The law needs to be more precise about the measurements the government will use to establish prices in place.

Second, the government keeps the money if the IP owner does not claim it within three years. It is unknown if officials would tell fund holders of the funds they have on hand. If so, it might not even be significant. The state-run bank of the NPA, Belarusbank in Minsk, cannot conduct business with the West due to ongoing sanctions.

Finally, if IP owners manage to access their funds, they will be required to give the government up to 20% of it. This fee purportedly covers the “administration and accounting expenses” of the NPA and Belarusbank.

The only winner in this scenario is the Belarusian government. In essence, Lukashenko has created a system where customers pay the government instead of IP owners – government-run piracy — rather than legalizing multimedia piracy. The law is set to expire on December 31, 2024, but nothing prevents the nation from re-enacting it.

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