The Republic of Belarus has effectively legalized piracy with a new law that authorities there announced this month—a law meant to combat what the Kremlin-backed eastern European nation has called a response to "unfriendly countries"—presumably in the West. The news was first reported by Billboard and Gizmodo.
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko—a Putin ally who has allowed the Russian leader to conduct attacks on Ukraine from Belarus territory—signed into law what effectively allows for digital piracy within Belarus without any official consent from the legal rights holder.
The law effectively leaves the door wide open for piracy of nearly every medium: music, film, e-books, and more. But what's even further compounding the problem is the law does not officially list the countries it deems as being "unfriendly." Though for now, it's probably safe to assume that intellectual property throughout the United States and Western Europe is now ripe for the picking.
Belarus was caught badly in the crossfires of the initial round of financial sanctions imposed on Russia and its allies over the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the new law is said to be in response to those moves by the United States and its allies. But, in the true fashion of a corrupt government, Belarus authorities made sure a loop hole was created in the law so their authoritarian state can prosper financially: anyone using unlicensed content will still need to pay a tax to the state of Belarus after three years.
According to TorrentFreak, the law says that "After three years, the remuneration not demanded by the right holder or the organization for the collective management of property rights will be transferred by the Patent Authority to the republican budget within three months."
Of course, the rights holder can make demands all they want. The question is, with such an obvious violation of even the most basic global IP norms, will Belarus authorities actually hear any of the claims?
Two words: doubt it.