Russia mulls legalizing software piracy as it’s cut off from Western tech

Russian law already allows for the government to authorize -- "without consent of the patent holder" -- the use of any intellectual property "in case of emergency related to ensuring the defense and security of the state." The government hasn't taken that step yet, but it may soon, according to a report from Russian business newspaper Kommersant, spotted and translated by Kyle Mitchell, an attorney who specializes in technology law. It's yet another sign of a Cyber Curtain that's increasingly separating Russia from the West.

The plan would create "a compulsory licensing mechanism for software, databases, and technology for integrated microcircuits," the Kommersant said. It would only apply to companies from countries that have imposed sanctions. While the article doesn't name names, many large Western firms -- some of which would be likely targets -- have drastically scaled back business in Russia. So far, Microsoft has suspended sales of new products and services in Russia, Apple has stopped selling devices, and Samsung has stopped selling both devices and chips. Presumably, 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. Still, any gains aren't guaranteed since doing business in Russia has become riddled with problems, spanning everything from logistics to finance.

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