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Putin might allow software piracy

by on08 March 2022

Oh those sanctions

After years of making a pretence of being against software piracy, the Russian government is expected to give companies and individuals the right to pirate what they like.

The Kremlin is mulling ways to keep businesses and the government running and it is going back to the glory days of the Soviet empire when anything the country didn’t have was pirated.

It means that instead of the government taking over an oil refinery or some countries’ assets it will legalise software piracy. 

Russian law already allows for the government to authorise -- "without consent of the patent holder" -- the use of any intellectual property "in case of emergency related to ensuring the defence and security of the state."

According to a report from Russian business newspaper Kommersant the plan would create "a compulsory licensing mechanism for software, databases, and technology for integrated microcircuits."

It would only apply to companies from countries that have imposed sanctions. So far, Microsoft has suspended sales of new products and services in Russia, Apple has paused selling devices, and Samsung has stopped selling both devices and chips.

It is unlike that any move by the Kremlin to "seize" IP would exempt Chinese companies, which are reportedly considering how to press their advantage. Smartphone-makers Xiaomi and Honor stand to gain, as do Chinese automakers.

However, it might not actually work too well as Russia still has huge problems getting the materials or technology to actually make the gear which it will steal the IP. During the last stages of the Cold War, Russia was using cloned Apple hardware made in Bulgaria which managed to catch fire even more than its US equivalents.  Software piracy has been an issue for Western companies in Russia for decades so it is unlikely to make much difference.


Last modified on 08 March 2022
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