Eastern European Nation Signs Law Legalizing Music Piracy

The Republic of Belarus has essentially legalized music piracy throughout the Eastern European nation in response to what it considers “unfriendly countries” in the West, as Billboard and Gizmodo reported.

Earlier this month, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko signed the law that legally allows digital piracy in the country without requiring the consent of the rights holder.

In addition to recorded music, it covers movies, computer programs and other audiovisual entertainment mediums. But the law doesn’t explicitly state what countries Belarus considers unfriendly.

Still, the legislation appears to target Western nations after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Belarus last July following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Belarus is a Russian ally.

However, the new Belarusian piracy law includes the condition that those utilizing the pirated content must pay a remuneration fee to its state-owned bank accounts.

“After three years, the remuneration not demanded by the right holder or the organization for the collective management of property rights will be transferred by the Patent Authority to the republican budget within three months,” the law says, according to TorrentFreak.

The legislation is to serve “the development of the intellectual and spiritual and moral potential of society,” according to Belarus, and “the reduction of critical shortages in the domestic market of food and other goods,” as the Odessa Journal reported.

Belarus has never been a major music market. Major record labels cut ties with both Belarus and Russia after the invasion that began in February 2022. But some have theorized that Belarus allowing piracy there could have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.

“As Belarus is a very small music market — a rounding error in the global market — there will be little direct impact in terms of music revenues for western rights holders,” music analyst Mark Mulligan explained to Billboard this week. “What might be impactful, though, is whether piracy networks start to operate from Belarus, distributing globally but operating under the protection of Belarussian law.”

Instated for two years, the law in Belarus is valid until Dec. 31, 2024.

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