Belarus legalizes Digital Piracy


Belarus has temporarily legalized the use of digital content from ‘unfriendly countries’ without the consent of copyright holders, according to a decree signed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and published on the country’s official portal of legal information.

The new law, set to come into force next week, allows the use of software, films, music, television programs and other “audiovisual works” in the country without consent, if the copyright holders hail from countries that have placed sanctions on Belarus.

The provision specifies that royalties must still be paid for the use of the content to copyright holders, but the funds are to be credited to the account of the Belarusian patent authority, where they can be claimed by copyright owners within three years.

The document also legalizes parallel imports, sometimes called “gray” imports, a practice in which non-counterfeit products are imported without the permission of the intellectual property owners via alternative supply channels. The measure covers imports from any country, not only those that are deemed “unfriendly.” According to the new law, the import of goods without the rights owner’s permission will be considered legal if these goods are included in the list of products “essential” for the domestic market.

The law “will give an opportunity to import original goods not only to copyright holders of the object of intellectual property or their official distributors, but to any importers. This temporary measure is aimed at preventing a shortage of imported goods and saturating the consumer market,” the Belarusian government explained on its official Telegram channel.