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Russia Considers Lifting IP Laws Against ‘Unfriendly’ Countries, Potentially Legalising Movies & Games Piracy

Russia is reportedly looking at removing IP protections, as retaliation against countries that have placed trade and other sanctions against it for attacking Ukraine.

Since it carried out attacks on Ukraine in February, governments have placed economic restrictions on Russia, and global companies such as McDonald’s and Uniqlo have ceased operations or pulled out of the country. The removal of intellectual property laws and rules could potentially legalise piracy of foreign trademarks, inventions, software, video games and movies in Russia.

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According to Russian news agency TASS, Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development is “considering the possibility of removing restrictions on the use of intellectual property contained in certain goods whose supply to Russia is restricted”. Restricted goods can potentially mean many things, from fast food to movies, since many Western companies have left or suspended services in Russia.

Earlier this week, in response to economic sanctions levied by the West for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia has declared that zero patent compensation will be paid to companies from ‘unfriendly’ countries.

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If Russia follows up with a similar decree on trademarks and intellectual properties, it may mean that businesses in Russia could continue to use brands such as McDonald’s or Starbucks that have exited Russia due to the conflict, or users can pirate Hollywood and other movies legally.

Russian politician Dmitry Ionin has even hinted at using the RuTracker torrent site to help Russians torrent blocked Hollywood movies (such as The Batman). RuTracker was officially banned in 2016.

“Since many Western studios have refused to release new films in Russia, the parliamentarian believes that thanks to the torrent tracker, users will be able to watch Hollywood films”, Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta tweeted.

The conflict in Ukraine has elicited various responses from companies worldwide. Amongst them, Netflix suspended its service, EA removed Russian teams from its games, while This War of Mine developer will donate all game profits to support Ukraine. The indie storefront itch.io’s fundraiser, to support Ukraine, has extended their goal to US$5mil due to the donations received.