Russia wants to legalise software piracy to fight tech sanctions

Russia wants to legalise software piracy to fight tech sanctions

The Kremlin is considering legalising unlicensed software to fight increased sanctions from Western Alliance big tech companies.

That is according to a report from Russian business newspaper Kommersant, which technology lawyer Kyle Mitchell translated.

The report is based on a table with a list of points detailing a plan to support economic growth in Russia under a wave of sanctions that have made it difficult for businesses to continue operating as usual.

The table was reportedly circulated among the country’s state agencies and was provided to Kommersant by a source “familiar with the situation”.

Mitchell explained the plan proposed suspending criminal and administrative liability for using unlicensed software in Russia that belongs to copyright holders from countries imposing sanctions.

Article 1360 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation already gives the government the right to take measures regarding the use of inventions, useful models, and industrial designs without the permission of patentholders.

Several major software companies, including Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, IBM, and Oracle, have decided to limit their operations and product or service sales in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.


Russia’s disregard for intellectual property rights is well known, with pirated movies and TV shows popular among its citizens.

An ESET survey from 2019 found that only 9% of Russians preferred exclusively legal content over pirated content.

According to Ars Technica, the move to “seize” intellectual property from these companies will possibly benefit Chinese companies like smartphone manufacturers Xiaomi and Honor.

China has refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and its foreign minister Wang Yi recently called the country its “most important strategic partner”.

“The friendship between the two peoples is ironclad,” Wang stated in a news conference.

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