A European country allows piracy legally… but not for free

Belarus is the only country in Europe that legalises piracy. Dictator Alexander Lukashenko has signed a new law allowing the copying, distribution and reproduction of films, songs, TV series and software from “unfriendly” countries. These countries are identified as those that have imposed sanctions on Belarus in recent months in response to Russia’s support for the war in Ukraine.

Belarus allows distribution of “pirated” content without a license, but for a fee

Virtually every country in the European Union, the UK and the US is on this list. Thus, the Belarusian government is offering citizens the possibility to access free of charge and without legal repercussions any multimedia content developed in these countries. Moreover, even cinemas and TV stations will be covered by this law, so they will be able to legally broadcast series and films to which they do not own the rights.

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However, despite the fact that access to unlicensed works will be allowed, it will not be free. The law says that those who use pirated content will have to pay for it into the accounts of the National Patent Authority. The money will be kept for three months from the date of payment. Rights holders will be able to claim the money back.

If they are not claimed by the rights holders of the “pirated” content, the money will go to the Belarusian state budget. Also, companies that claim the money from the rights to their works will have to cover accounting and management costs, but these costs cannot exceed 20% of the amount collected.

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It is not clear, however, how the Belarusian authorities will count what is pirated and how. Most likely, this part of the law will only apply to private companies that use unlicensed content for profit. Moreover, it is unclear how much the broadcasting rights are worth. Prices will be set by the Belarusian authorities according to unknown criteria.

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