Russia looking to bypass sanctions on foreign software as licences begin to run out

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The Ministry of Digital is said to be preparing for the compulsory licensing of foreign software as licences begin to run out, potentially limiting their future use.

According to Russian news site Kommersant on Wednesday, December 28 most of the suppliers of the software in use in Russia has been supplied by companies who no longer work or support the country.

To try and overcome the issue the ministry is looking to get approval for government departments and private providers to transfer licence fees to special accounts designated by the copyright holder. Simply to make it legal for these companies and the ministry to bypass sanctions using illegal payments.

The bill will also decriminalise the use of unlicensed software, a move that has split opinion in the country’s IT industry. Some believe that the move will keep critical systems operational whilst others believe it will slow down import substitution.

Dmitry Nikitin, Director of the Department for the Development of the IT Industry of the Ministry of Digital, said the government “is working on the issue of determining special conditions for the use of foreign software, in respect of which it is impossible for conscientious Russian users to fulfil existing contractual obligations.”

The Minister of Statistics Maksut Shadayev said in a recent webinar that “we need conditions under which business could use foreign software.

“It’s not the business’s fault that the developer has left the country and it is impossible to renew the licenses. We must create a separate mechanism for bona fide users.”

Bypassing sanctions on foreign software through enforced licensing and illegal payment methods to special accounts is unlikely to resolve the issue fully, with some unscrupulous operators likely to take advantage whilst others may choose to switch their software off rather than falling foul of sanctions.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]