Updated January 9th, 2023 at 10:20 IST

Belarus legalises use of digital content from ‘unfriendly countries’ despite sanctions

"Import of goods without rights owner’s permission will be legal if these goods are included in list of products essential for domestic market," decree read.

Reported by: Zaini Majeed
IMAGE: AP | Image:self

Russia's steadfast ally, Belarus, on Sunday, Jan 8 temporarily legalized the use of digital content from ‘unfriendly countries’ implying the Western nations, without obtaining the consent of foreign copyright holders, according to the Russian Deutsche Welle. A decree was signed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and published on the country’s official portal of legal information. Under the new legislation, the use of digital materials was now permitted without the copyright holders' consent. 

Law to come into effect next week

The law, which will come into effect from next week onwards, will allow the use of software, films, music, television programs, and other “audiovisual works” from Western countries even if the copyright holder is located in a country that has placed sanctions on Minsk. The law mandates the payment of royalties to the concerned content companies for the use of copyright material in Belarus. All the funds would be credited into the account of the Belarusian patent authority, which can be claimed by the copyright holders in their respective countries over a period of up to three years. The law also legalizes the parallel or “gray” imports, material that can be supplied with the permission of the intellectual property owners via a third party. 

"Import of goods without the rights owner’s permission will be considered legal if these goods are included in the list of products essential for the domestic market," the decree stated, according to RT. 

Further, elaborating the law on its Telegram channel, the Belarusian government explained that new legislation “will give an opportunity to import original goods not only to copyright holders of the object of intellectual property or their official distributors but to any importers. This temporary measure is aimed at preventing a shortage of imported goods and saturating the consumer market." 

Belarus had earlier lambasted the West for what it described its "inhuman policies" against Minsk, calling on the Western leaders and parliamentarians to reconsider their action as coordinated sanctions were implemented on the regime.  European Union had announced the suspension of cross-border cooperation programs with Russia and its ally Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine. President Alexander Lukashenko had attracted widespread backlash from the US, and EU, and the allows for hosting Moscow's troops on his country's border and supporting Russia's offensive. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen officially announced the suspension of the cross-border trade cooperation with Minsk for its alleged role in the war. 


Published January 9th, 2023 at 10:20 IST