Country of Belarus Legalizes Music Piracy to Spite ‘Unfriendly Countries’
The Republic of Belarus has essentially legalized music piracy throughout the Eastern European nation in response to what it considers "unfriendly countries" in the West, as Billboard and Gizmodo reported.
Earlier this month, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko signed the law that allows digital piracy in the country without consent of the rights holder.
In addition to recorded music, it also covers movies, computer programs and other audiovisual entertainment mediums. But the law doesn't explicitly state just what countries Belarus considers unfriendly.
Still, the law seems to target the West after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Belarus last year amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Belarus is a Russian ally.
However, the new Belarus piracy law includes the condition that those using pirated content must pay remuneration to state-owned bank accounts.
"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," the law says, according to TorrentFreak.
The legislation is to serve "the development of the intellectual and spiritual and moral potential of society," according to Belarus, and "the reduction of critical shortages in the domestic market of food and other goods," as the Odessa Journal reported.
Belarus has never been a major music market. Major record labels cut ties with Russia after the invasion that began in 2022. But some have theorized that Belarus allowing piracy could have a ripple effect elsewhere.
"As Belarus is a very small music market … there will be little direct impact in terms of music revenues for western rights holders," analyst Mark Mulligan told Billboard this week. "What might be impactful, though, is whether piracy networks start to operate from Belarus, distributing globally but operating under the protection of Belarussian law."
The law is valid in Belarus until Dec. 31, 2024.