For the past couple of years, Japanese publishing companies and CODA have been increasingly vocal about the detrimental effects of manga and anime piracy, with the manga industry alone recording a loss of over 1 trillion yen in 2021.
As the authorities became more vigilant, the crackdown on the websites which facilitated the piracy of anime and manga also kept increasing. In recent times, the publishers even treaded international waters to curb the illegal spreading of their content.
However, despite all of this, a country from eastern Europe has decided to open the floodgates and legalize piracy of music, movies, TV Shows and other intellectual property. The reason? All of this content comes from “unfriendly foreign countries” including Japan, which makes the piracy of anime legal over there.
The country in question is none other than Belarus.
The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, signed a new law on Jan 3, 2023, legalizing the piracy of intellectual property including music, movies, TV shows and computer software from ‘unfriendly’ foreign countries.
The law legalizing piracy comes on the back of sanctions that were imposed on the country, as it supported Vladimir Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The sanctions that were slapped on Belarus made is impossible to lawfully acquire and distribute content with IP rights. However, with the new law, the permission of the rightsholder will be bypassed without any legal implications within the country.
Meaning, citizens or any organization in Belarus can import and/or distribute unlicensed content from “unfriendly foreign nations” within the country without any legal implications. All they have to do is to mark the content being imported as “essential for the domestic market”.
As the news broke, fans began speculating that all the anime piracy websites can just shift their servers to Belarus now and operate without any ramifications.
However, there is a small catch in this law legalizing piracy, as the people who are acquiring or distributing the content will have to pay a fee directly to the bank accounts of the state-owned National Patent Authority. The organization will be in charge processing copyright claims and unless the international rights holder makes a claim withing three years, the money will belong to the Belarus Government.
The country’s new piracy law will be in effect till Dec 31, 2024.
Last year, Belarus was slapped with numerous international sanctions which prevented the audiovisual media and technology from being routed through the country. Earlier in March 2022, Russia too had eased their copyright laws, which was akin to legalizing piracy in the country.