On January 3, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a bill into law that legally allows access to pirated audio-visual material and software if the rights holders of the artifact come from “foreign states committing unfriendly actions against Belarusian legal entities and (or) individuals.” In addition, the law also includes international companies from “unfriendly” nations that own rights.

According to the draft law, audiovisual material covered includes films, music and television programs, as well as television programs published by a state organization and film and entertainment distribution organizations. Any person or company importing pirated content or media into the country can label it as “essential to the domestic market” to be considered legal. However, individuals or entities must pay a remuneration fee to bank accounts managed by the National Patent Authority.

The Belarusian government claims that the new law will help the development of the “intellectual, spiritual and moral potential of society” and reduce “critical shortages in the domestic market of food and other goods.” However, it is important to mention that the new law does not apply to piracy of software, games and digital products.

Countries, international organizations and territories considered “unfriendly” to Belarus include “Australia; Albania; Andorra; United Kingdom, including Jersey, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar; the Member States of the European Union; Iceland; Canada; Liechtenstein; Micronesia; Monaco; New Zealand; Norway; South Korea; San Marino; North Macedonia; Singapore; United States; Taiwan; Ukraine; Montenegro; Switzerland and Japan.”