It was only yesterday that it was reported that Nintendo would be joining Sony, Microsoft, and countless others in pulling out of Russia after the country’s invasion of Ukraine, and already there’s news pertaining to video game companies again — in the wake of this economic development, Russia is changing its IP laws so that people can utilize IP from other countries without paying for it, essentially legalizing piracy, as reported in Russian state-backed newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta (via City A.M.).
While this appears to be targeted primarily at patents and hardware (which is a topic that is its own can of worms) the change also appears to apply to software via the ‘Priority Action Plan for Ensuring the Development of the Russian Economy in the Conditions of External Sanctions Pressure’ which proclaims “cancellation of liability for the use of software unlicensed in the Russian Federation, owned by a copyright holder from countries that have supported the sanctions.” In other words, if a Russian individual pirates games from Japanese or American game companies, the Russian government won’t pursue any sort of legal charge. In that sense it might be more akin to decriminalization than full legalization of piracy.
Now, piracy is a hot-button issue just when we’re talking about American Joe Schmos downloading an emulator to play Pokémon Emerald, and there are about a dozen more layers of geopolitics and history on top of this situation. It’s unclear if and when Nintendo and other companies would reenter the Russian space, but they clearly won’t do so as long as the invasion roars on, so until the war ends this is theoretically the only way for Russian citizens to acquire games from said companies. How justified or important that is, we leave to you, dear reader. Remember to stay informed on the conflict, and our hearts as always go out to Ukraine.
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