In the first week of 2023, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, signed a new law allowing the piracy of content from so-called “hostile countries”. That is, movies, music, TV shows and software developed there can now be pirated and distributed in the Eastern European country. The rule points out that it came about as a result of the unfriendly relations of regions like the United States and the United Kingdom.
After supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions were imposed. This has led to an even greater estrangement between Belarus and the US and Europe. Thus, several brands that hold the rights to entertainment productions such as series and games either refused to offer the content, or were prevented from doing so.
The government of Alexander Lukashenko saw piracy as the “only way out”, passing a law to restrict intellectual property licenses. However, this “legalization of piracy” is only for so-called “hostile countries”. That is, you still cannot pirate content produced in Russia, for example.
With the name “On the limitation of exclusive rights of objects of intellectual property”, the norm defines computer programs and audiovisual productions as its targets. If productions are owned by governments that carry out “hostile actions” towards Belarus, their licenses will be limited.
The Eastern European country’s House of Representatives adopted the terms on December 20, 2022. On January 3, 2023, the president signed it into law. It is valid until December 31, 2024.
It’s piracy, but you still have to pay
Interestingly, even removing or limiting the copyright of these productions, this does not mean that any citizen or company can use them at will. The law says that when an individual or entity makes use of pirated content, remuneration must be paid directly to the National Patent Authority.
It is important to highlight that the country’s government is in charge of this institution.
These funds will be held for three years, waiting for license holders to claim. However, if they do not, Belarus will keep the money, which will become the federal budget.
Finally, I need to point out that those who will define the price of entertainment productions are not their owners, but the leaders of the patent institution. In short, it’s that old norm of “take it or leave it”. That’s if we think that the money will actually reach the hands of the entities that own the rights.
Torrent sites like The Pirate Bay are not part of the law.
President has been in power since 1994
There are those who consider Alexander Lukashenko to be a dictator. He is the first and (so far) only president in Belarus’ history, having taken power in 1994 in a democratic election.
However, as time went by, the politician went over several steps that could take him out of the presidential seat. With the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko held a referendum that removed limits on the terms of his office.
The controversies related to his name are not few. He is the richest man in his country, being considered as the “last tyrant of Europe” by his opponents.
With information: Torrent Freak.