Russia May Legalise Software Piracy As Tech And Game Companies Continue To Pull Out

Russia May Legalise Software Piracy As Tech And Game Companies Continue To Pull Out
Photo: Kotaku / Sergey Alimov / Matthew Horwood, Getty Images

The Russian government is looking to legalise at least some software piracy to help its citizens get around the growing list of tech, gaming, and software bans that the country faces due to its ongoing and destructive invasion of Ukraine. It seems Russian leaders and lawmakers are preparing to live under sanctions, a bad sign for those hoping the war will end anytime soon.

Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development has introduced a potential new law called the “Priority Action Plan for Ensuring the Development of the Russian Economy in the Conditions of External Sanctions Pressure.” As reported by TorrentFreak, a passage found in point 6.7.3 seems to have big implications for software piracy. Translated, it reads:

Cancellation of liability for the use of software (SW) unlicensed in the Russian Federation, owned by a copyright holder from countries that have supported the sanctions.

In other words, the idea is that once this law is passed, anyone could download and use pirated software for which there is no Russian-made alternative as long as the software originates from a country that currently supports the sanctions against Russia. TorrentFreak notes that the proposed law covers both civil and federal liability, and that these new changes to Russia’s law would remain in place for as long as the sanctions persist.

Russia currently faces a long list of sanctions after Russian military forces began attacking and invading Ukraine late last month.

Read More: Nintendo Delays War Game Over Invasion Of Ukraine

The ongoing, illegal conflict has led to thousands of deaths, with many fleeing the country as their homes and towns are bombed by missiles. As a result, multiple countries, including the United States, have placed pressure on Russia and Putin via economic sanctions. And as the invasion continues, many private companies are also pulling their business from Russia. Last weekend, Activision Blizzard, Microsoft, and Epic Games announced that they were suspending their services in the country. They join other major tech and software companies, like Sony / PlayStation, Twitch, Netflix, EA Games, and Witcher devs CDPR in effectively boycotting the country over the war.

While the proposed law would theoretically allow Russians to pirate games published by U.S. companies such as EA without facing legal punishment, that isn’t the main reason for the law. Instead, it’s apparently aimed at helping Russian businesses who rely on software from Microsoft or Apple to run their operations. However, as much of that kind of software has moved to subscription models that rely on the cloud, it’s unclear just how helpful these changes to Russia’s software piracy regulations will be.


  • I think at the end of the day, they won’t allow it. Russia wants to rigidly control the media during this time and they won’t be endorsing piracy cause then people will be torrenting foreign news channels.

    • Their not endorsing broad privacy, just software.
      Broadcasts and media will still remain under the strict laws in place.
      They already control the media and while we do see resistance from protestors, the greater population still buys the propaganda.
      (As tends to be the case for every country)

      The plan itself is a threat aimed at tech/software companies but there’s absolutely nothing stopping them from doing it and if they did, it would successfully lessen the economic and social impact of the sanctions somewhat, at least in that area.

  • The Russian government are obviously evil fucking bastards, but “legalise software piracy” is a TorrentFreak take for obvious, self-interested reasons.

    I can’t imagine that there’s a single government anywhere in the world that would go around prosecuting companies for copyright infringement just because they were continuing to use software with licenses that had expired or been revoked due to international sanctions.

  • Hmm, somewhat fair enough tbh.
    What the russian government is doing right now sucks, no doubt.
    But the 100 million random russians are getting f*cked over by the whole world too because of it. Yes because of “their” (they didnt really vote for them though) governement, so its just ‘retaliation’ but stopping regular citizens from buying games and coca cola is a fucking stretch of ‘helping’ its just feel good baloney.
    So here the also as innocent as the ukrainians, regular russians, get some of their life back.

    • The sanctions so far amount to a slight inconvenience and the bulk of the pressure is on the business side of things, the usual result is starvation, bloodshed and complete societal collapse.

    • Sorry, but you don’t get to take the benefits of whatever arbitrary advantage you think invading another country gives yours without also paying the cost.

      If you live in the same house as a mafia don, with your bills paid and the occasional free stereo that’s fallen off the back of a truck, you don’t later get to complain if your house and furniture is confiscated by the government and you end up sleeping under a bridge.

      And it’s not ‘retaliation’ or revenge, it’s pretty mild pressure applied to encourage the Russian government to change course and to deprive the Russian economy of the funds necessary to continue the war indefinitely. Mild, as opposed to, say, sending NATO into your country to bomb the shit out of your cities right back.

      Also, seriously dude, enough with this false equivalence. Poor innocent Russians having to make do without a Coke and a Big Mac while innocent Ukrainians are being carpet bombed out of their houses. Cry me a river.

  • Well they want to recreate the USSR let them also enjoy the benefits like lining up for luxury goods like potatoes. Just like the old days 🙂

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!