Media piracy from “unfriendly” nations legalised in Belarus


The country of Belarus has moved to legalise the piracy of media created in “unfriendly” nations, new reports reveal.

Belarus, an ally of Russia, has been sanctioned by the United States in the last year over the war in Ukraine, with president Joe Biden preventing the exportation of materials through Belarus that could help Russia’s war effort.

Now, according to a new report from Vicea temporary law was passed in late December and posted on the government’s online portal on January 3. It will remain in place until the end of 2024.

The law legalises the piracy of digital goods – music, computer software, films and more – if the rights holder and creator lives in “foreign states that commit unfriendly actions against Belarusian legal entities and (or) individuals”.

It also states that, in order to avoid “a critical shortage in the domestic market of food and other products,” physical goods are now allowed to be imported without the consent of rights holders.

Vice adds that royalties from these sanctioned goods will be held by the government for three years, and if not collected by that time, they will go into the government budget.

Russia Ukraine war
Demonstrators hold a Ukraine flag and Russia flag during a protest in support of Ukraine near the Russian Embassy in Turin, Italy. CREDIT: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

There has been a significant crackdown on Western media in Russia and its allied countries since the war against Ukraine began last February.

In October, access to SoundCloud was restricted in Russia, with the country claiming “false information” about a “special military operation” in Ukraine have been circulating on the music streaming site.

According to Interfax, who cite information from communications watchdog Roskomnadzor (RKN) (via Reuters), “Roskomnadzor restricted access to the SoundCloud service in connection with placement of materials containing false information regarding the nature of the special military operation on the territory of Ukraine.”

Spotify “indefinitely” closed its Russian office in March, with Universal Music Group – the largest label group in the world – also suspending operations in the country.

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