Russia Looks at Legalising Software Piracy to Offset Sanctions

Russia Looks at Legalising Software Piracy to Offset Sanctions
Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK/AFP, Getty Images)

It sounds like Russia may be getting a little desperate to stave off economic collapse in the wake of Ukraine-related Western sanctions. The new plan? Legalise certain forms of software piracy as a potential workaround for products whose companies’ have recently cut off distribution in Russia.

Torrentfreak reports that the Russian government has floated the idea of effectively rescinding legal punishments for people who use certain types of pirated software. That software would have to come from companies that have supported the current Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia, or where there is no available software alternative.

The West has recently sought to institute harsh economic pressure on Russia — in a bid to halt President Vladimir Putin’s illegal military invasion of Ukraine. The brutal invasion, which has sent shockwaves throughout Europe and resulted in hundreds of deaths, recently spurred G-7 nations to cut off vital economic flows into Russia. But a large number of private companies have also agreed to temporarily halt product sales and licensing in Russia. Big tech names such as Apple, Adobe, Samsung, and Microsoft have all jumped on this bandwagon, effectively making it impossible for the average Russian to buy a new Macbook or Galaxy smartphone, among many other inconveniences.

As a result of all of this, the Russian government has scrambled to come up with creative strategies to keep the nation’s economy moving and to allow its citizens to continue using vital, West-sourced tech. Torrentfreak notes that the Russian government’s plan to essentially greenlight certain forms of software piracy is part of a broader strategy recently released by the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia. It’s an especially bizarre policy, given that Russia has historically been quite draconian when it comes to piracy.

But while this all might sound a bit crazy, Russia is really in dire straights right now. Those sanctions mentioned earlier are putting a hurt on the country something terrible. The Economist went so far as to call them “savage,” Putin has characterised them as an “act of war,” and analysts have stated they seem clearly designed to “destroy” Russia’s economy. Because of all this, it’s no surprise Russia is looking to semi-illicit means to stimulate its economy — since its back is effectively up against a wall. Of course, there is one clearcut way out of this whole situation: stop the illegal war in Ukraine and pull Russian troops out of the region. Something tells me that’s not Putin’s plan A, however.