New IP-related counteractions to sanctions – Belarus and Russia

16.1.2023

Belarus, which is also under multiple sanctions, has legalized parallel import last summer. Further, on 3 January 2023, the law “On the Limitation of Exclusive Rights to Intellectual Property Objects” was published, allowing the use of software, audiovisual and musical works, as well as goods containing intellectual property objects without the permission of the copyright holder, if they are included in a list of goods which are important for the domestic market.

The list is updated by government agencies. Moreover, if a product is included in such a list, it will be automatically excluded from the Belarussian customs IP register. However, the law provides compensation for the use. The compensation is paid to a deposit of the governmental body and can be claimed by the IP owner within 3 years of the payment.

In case the compensation is not claimed within 3 years, the sum will be transferred to the government. The aim of the law is to ensure digital development of the country and provide access to modern world events and culture to the citizens of Belarus.

This issue is very relevant also in Russia, as the Russian cinemas are actively looking for an opportunity to legally broadcast foreign (especially Hollywood) films. Given that the border between Russia and Belarus is quite transparent, this may open another way for goods, software and music to enter Russia without the consent of the copyright holders.

Russia is now considering a draft law “On Compulsory Software Licensing”, which is similar to the Belarussian one, but much softer in nature. The Russian bill provides for collection of fees from users and accumulation of money in a special account, which software copyright holders will be able to use after returning to Russia.

For any further information, kindly contact our Annikki Hämäläinen or Riikka Palmos.

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