Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provoked massive economic backlash from Western nations in the form of sanctions and other punitive economic measures such as a ban on Russian oil imports. In the short-term, such government actions against Russia will cause harm to the Russian economy.
In the meantime, Russian policymakers are looking at ways to keep businesses and the government afloat.
This has compelled the Russian government to get creative. It is doing so by mulling the concept of legalizing software piracy.
Tim De Chant of Ars Technica observed that “Russian law already allows for the government to authorize—‘without consent of the patent holder’—the use of any intellectual property case of emergency related to ensuring the defense and security of the state.”
So far, the Russian government hasn’t taken any concrete steps to legalize software piracy per a report by Russian business newspaper Kommersant. De Chant noted that this move is “another sign of a Cyber Curtain that’s increasingly separating Russia from the West.
Kommersant noted that this plan would establish “a compulsory licensing mechanism for software, databases, and technology for integrated microcircuits.”
These standards would only be applicable to companies hailing from countries that have sanctioned Russia. Several Western firms have reduced their business operations in Russia. For example, Microsoft has halted the sales of new products and services in Russia, Apple has discontinued the sale of devices, and Samsung has stopped selling chips and devices.
At a glance, any decision by the Russian government to take over IP would not apply to Chinese companies, which are currently looking to fill in the void and expand into Russian markets.
Producers of smartphones like Xiaomi and Honor as well as Chinese auto manufacturers are expected to benefit from these new economic shocks that Russia is facing, which will compel it to turn to Chinese businesses for economic relief.
Software piracy is prevalent in Russia. De Chant pointed to a 2019 survey by ESET, a Slovakian security company, discovered that 91% of Russians prefer pirated content online.
With the total breakdown of the 1990s neoliberal trade system, which is heavily predicated on globalization, one can expect countries like Russia to no longer abide by the norms of the rules-based international order and start intensifying connections with countries like China to form a new order that operates with different norms.
This is likely where most politics will be heading throughout the 21st century. To say that this century will look interesting would be an understatement.