Russia Mulls Legalizing Software Piracy As Sanctions Pile Up

russia legalize software piracy sanctions news
Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, sanctions against Russian and Belarusian politicians and oligarchs, as well as Russia at large, have continued to pile up. These sanctions have contributed to an historic currency devaluation in the region, and are causing additional problems for Russia.

Many major technology companies have been quick to suspend sales in Russia, including AMD, Intel, TSMC, NVIDIA, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, and IBM. Some of these sales suspensions mean that Russians are unable to purchase new software licenses, which presents a problem for those using paid software in Russia. However, the Russian government looks to be considering a plan to address this limitation.

A list of proposed measures to combat the sanctions against Russia includes an “Information Technology” section with six measures. The original document is written in Russian, but we translated the document into English using DeepL Translator and cross-checked the translation of the “Information Technology” section with a Russian and English speaker. According to our translated copy (PDF), the Russian government is considering making piracy legal for software produced by companies based in countries with sanctions against Russia.

Article 1360 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation grants the government, for national security purposes, “the right to permit the use of an invention, utility model, or industrial design without the consent of the patent holder provided that he is notified as soon as possible and payment to him a reasonable remuneration.”

The proposed Information Technology measures include two amendments to Article 1360. The first of these amendments extends Article 1360 to include “computer programs, databases, and integrated circuit topologies.” The second amendment waives the requirement that the government pay license holders for permitting the unlicensed use of their software, so long as the license holders hail from countries that have joined the sanctions against Russia. Another of the measures cancels liability for the use of unlicensed software in the case that the license holder is from a country sanctioning Russia.

These measures effectively legalize software piracy in retaliation against sanctions. The proposed Information Technology measures also seek to guarantee and stimulate the development of software in Russia, as using software native to Russia is another way to get around software license restrictions.

One of the measures is a presidential decree making employees of IT companies and residents of Skholkovo, a special technology innovation city, exempt from military service. Two additional measures intend to provide grants, loans, and further financial support to IT companies.